July 20, 2024

Glasgow’s United Rugby Championship title win is “a monkey off the back” not just for Warriors but for Scottish rugby as a whole, according to Glasgow head coach Franco Smith.Scotland heading to Rugby World Cup with no fear and bags of belief | The  Independent

Warriors rounded off a superb campaign with knockout wins over Stormers and Munster before a stunning victory over the Bulls in Pretoria in the URC Grand Final.

Smith hopes a first Scottish piece of silverware in nine years can spark more success.

“We’ve been carrying this weight, Scotland’s been carrying this weight for too long,” Smith told BBC Scotland.

“Now, fortunately, there’s enough Scottish players in this team to have that belief reinstalled.

“It’s always there. It’s more the fear of disappointment that I think kept them back. They didn’t want to disappoint. They carry their hearts on their sleeves.

“They are good people. They want the national team, they want Glasgow Warriors to win all the time and that sometimes leads to a burden because you don’t want to make mistakes in the end instead of going out and conquering the victories.

“Hopefully, these last three games have proved that the players have that ability and they now have that monkey off the back of the fear of failure.”

‘Chasing significance rather than success’

Smith led Glasgow to a European final in his first season and has now delivered the URC title in his second. He does not want that success to be a one-off but rather a springboard for Glasgow and the national team to go on to greater things.

“We’re chasing significance rather than success,” the South African said. “We want to be consistent in our performance; we want to get even better at that.

“There’s going to be 25, 28 players on Scotland’s radar now leading up to the World Cup in 2027. I’m sure we will still increase that number.

“It’s to develop players to make sure that the belief to win trophies – may that be Six Nations, may that even be the World Cup, we never know – must be instilled in the boys because that’s the way they need to train and grow and believe. That’s the only route to become the best version of themselves.”

Following Danny Wilson’s sacking two years ago, Smith’s appointment as his successor was greeted with scepticism in some quarters, owing in large part to a difficult spell in charge of Italy prior to moving to Scotstoun.

Now, after taking the club from a low ebb to title winners, nobody is questioning whether he is the right man for the job.

“I know that there was a lot of eyebrows raised when I was appointed,” Smith added. “That’s the main story for me this week – never judge a book by its cover.

“We surprised people in the last weeks. Nobody gave us a chance to do it and it was judged by the cover.

“The club means a lot to me, the players. The way we got to know each other and the affection that exists is second to none.

“I’ve achieved something that I’ve set out to do and I got the opportunity to do. I will always be appreciative for the opportunity given.”

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