Franco Smith shared a message with the home support during his first week at Scotstoun. Although the South African coach who replaces Danny Wilson might speak softly, you can still hear his words.
He stated, “The fans represent our 24th player and they are crucial to us.”
Scotstoun should be a unbeatable ground. It is where the best teams come and win. The place must be full. We can expect the place to be full because of how we do business.
Smith still has some loose ends in his current position in Italy's high-performance department. We won't be seeing him again until the end of the month. However, he's already been granted a foot at Scotstoun.
He knows that the 50-year old has a lot of preparation work ahead of him. There are many things to do: players to meet, knowledge to share, opponents to study. This work will continue in Rome for the moment.
Smith was born in Lichtenberg, a north-west province, which literally translates to Town of Light. He sounds like a man who is focused on the task ahead.
He said, “I lived in Lichtenburg the first four years my life so I hope that Scotstoun will be as bright as it was then.”
Smith did not want to divulge any details about his players' mental state after last season's bruising experience, which culminated with a 76 point defeat at the hands Leinster. But he said some interesting things.
What was his message to his players when he addressed them for the first time?
He said, “They have to rediscover why they play the sport.”
“Professional rugby has required everyone to be very detailed and disciplined over the years. But we must not lose the excitement and joy.
“I want to organize players so that they can express themselves, so that they can have fun and be creative in their work.
“Having worked in Italy, South Africa, and around the globe, it is obvious that winning is important. Although there is a lot pressure to win, that is the goal. However, you cannot lose that excitement.
Smith doesn't specifically say that Glasgow have lost their edge in what they do, but it is a charge that could easily come against a side who has badly veered from the right path over the past two seasons.
They have lost some of the most important players and their performance has declined. They've won only 17. Since the Pro14 Final in 2019, they've played 40 competitive matches. They won only 42.5%, which is quite far from the pace.
They were mid-table last season in the United Rugby Championship.
They gave up 41 points to Munster on their last day, and had already given up 40 to the Stormers and 48 to Ulster earlier in the season.
Smith said that there is a difference between losing or being defeated when presented with the raw statistics of Glasgow's win/loss return.
“We might lose some games, but that doesn't mean we are defeated.” This won't happen.
This could be an allusion to what happened last season, especially the Leinster game. Is that embarrassment still with the players? Do they have any psychological work to do before their URC campaign begins, which coincidentally is against his old club Benetton.
“The first thing that I noticed about this club is its pride and the fact that they don't need any motivation from me. Being a Glasgow player is enough motivation.
Wilson had to be fired, but that doesn't mean the problem is solved. For too long, players who were operating under the Warriors banner have been anything but.
Although the squad appears to be decent on paper, it is underperforming. There are some issues at 10, where there's not a dominant force, and at lock, where they will be facing the Leinsters/Munsters in South Africa.
They could use a huge presence in the back row. Glasgow are a great team with some talented footballers. However, power is what elevates sides and they seem to lack it.
Smith stated, “It's certainly important.” “Winning the collisions and dominating the set-piece. However, there are many ways to do it.
“It is a lot to with team personality. It also has to do self-belief. You can focus on your identity and it will be enough. Yes, these guys [the South African sides] They are huge. “I'm South African and I know this, but it doesn't intimidate me. There are ways to deal with it.”
The players have the chance to reset under the new system. They can also go back to the drawing board with a new voice, someone who has played with the Cheetahs and Griquas as well as Bulls, Bulls and Newport.
He was Treviso's coach and brought them into the Magners League. Their first away win was in Glasgow. Then he moved on to the Cheetahs, then to the Italian national job. He played a difficult and brutal role in two Six Nations. France lost 13 points to him. After that, he was promoted to the high-performance department.
Scotstoun was a lively, energetic venue packed with enthusiastic punters, who enjoyed the action on the field. Smith recalls the atmosphere of coaching against Glasgow.
Smith said, “We want win consistently over a long time. Not just have a few big games and then regret it.”
“We are looking for a winning brand, with people watching and on their feet, of rugby. It's about scoring try and trying hard to not give away tries.
“The fans have to see it, they have to see the effort and hard work of the players. We want to be important in what we do.
Smith believes that the URC will return to the scene next month and Smith hopes it will help revive a team that has taken too many wrong turns over the past few years.