Italy Rugby names South Africa’s Franco Smith as new head coach

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South Africa’s Franco Smith, 47, will guide the Italian national team. AFP

South African Franco Smith has been confirmed as head coach of Italy’s rugby team, the Italian rugby federation (FIR) announced on Saturday.

Smith, 47, took over on an interim basis in November after predecessor Conor O’Shea resigned despite his contract running through to the end of last month.

Smith will be supported by assistant coach Marius Goosen, with Giampiero De Carli in charge of forwards, Alessandro Troncon overseeing the backs, and Quintin Kruger and Giovanni Sanguin coordinating physical preparation.

No details of Smith’s contract were revealed but it will reportedly run until after the 2023 World Cup in France.

The FIR said a news conference will be held next week via video link.

Italy have lost all three games since former South African international Smith took over, all in the Six Nations, which was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Italy were hammered 42-0 by Wales in Cardiff, lost to Scotland 17-0 in Rome and fell 35-22 to France in Paris.

Smith coached Italian team Treviso for six years between 2007 and 2013 before taking over as coach of South African side the Cheetahs in 2015.

He was also assistant coach of South Africa under Allister Coetzee in 2017.

Irishman O’Shea took over as Azzurri coach in 2016 and led them into the World Cup where they failed to progress past the pool stage.