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Rugby, Smith’s farewell: “Italy has athletes for the next 12 years”

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Rugby, Smith’s farewell: “Italy has athletes for the next 12 years”

The former director of the blue High Level speaks after the signing of the biennial with Glasgow: “Last year I already said I wanted to return to the field. I created a structure, there are 120 trained players, now they must be played. I had the feeling that I had no weapons “

Simone Battaggia

On the day of the announcement of the consensual termination of the contract with Fir and the signing of the biennial with the Warriors, Franco Smith reached Glasgow. The outgoing director of the high level blue will stay in Scotland for three days, on Thursday he will be presented to the press, on Friday he will return to Italy for a last month of work, to close the job.

Smith, contento?
“Happy is not the right word. Happy to coach, I don’t deny this. It is a high-level opportunity that comes before the World Cup, this has a value for me. In Italy I think I have done the most important work in my role. In the first year the structure was set up and now it will have to be followed, all the directions for the future were given. Italy A, the Emergenti, was created, international level players were identified, the way to follow athletes who are abroad, a structure for high performance was built. There are coaches, doctors, physio inserted in a system. The various Troncon, Marcato, Giazzon (technicians from Italia A / Emergenti, ed) know where to go, Kruger has set the work on physical preparation, with Riccardo Di Maio we have created a GPS data measurement system, Vilk works well on the Seven , there are new Academies in the franchises and the Top 10 has improved: after increasing the time with the ball in play, now we will work on what to do with that ball. These were the most important things to do ”.

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When did Glasgow look for you?

“A month ago. There was an informal call, then they got back to me. I replied that I would hear what Fir had to tell me.”

Did Innocenti try to convince her to stay?

“Yes, but he also understood why I wanted to go. From the very beginning, since I took on the role of manager of the high level (after the parenthesis as coach of 2020-21, ed) I made it clear that I wanted to return to coaching. . I thank Fir for giving me the opportunity to grow in a different role, which will help me on a personal level, and for having endorsed this new opportunity. Innocenti could have said no. “

Do you think that the figure he represented, that of a high-level director, will have to survive?

“Yes, a high level manager is needed for Italian rugby. I know your movement, in that role you can give direction. It is a delicate role, there is a lot to do. A coach cannot do it alone. keeping the national team coaches together, sharing a line. Every Tuesday we had a meeting, there were also Hernandez, Pacini, Morelli. Keeping everyone informed and aligned was important, as was collecting data, cutting the video of the matches. Today we have 120 players of national interest, in 2022-23 the work to be done to follow them will be even more important “.

Balance of his commitment as a coach?

“I worked in the middle of a difficult, bad period. First Covid, then the need for a physical recovery of the players, Treviso and Zebre who had not had great performances. I had the feeling that I did not have the weapons to compete. The players had little experience, I am proud to have identified 13 boys under the age of 21 and to have given them an opportunity in the blue. Now I believe that for the next 12 years Italian rugby has players to work on. They have been trained, now they have to be transformed into athletes of international level. In fact, Italy has been rebuilt since March 2021 “.

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What is the priority for Italian rugby today?

“To let all 120 athletes of interest play. And the top 10 must continue to grow, Emergenti must give opportunities. We need a balance between the need to win and the growth of the players.”

The Top 1o clubs on this one have struggled to follow it.

“At the beginning of last season I went to all the clubs, I saw what the situation was, I explained what the direction was. I don’t think there were any problems. Maybe the Emerging national team created some question marks why the players could get injured. during the season (see Petrarchino Canali, ed) but if you work only to win you don’t go anywhere. You have to work to improve. As I have always said, all Italian coaches are responsible for the senior national team, even those of the under 8 “.

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