Franco Smith

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Franco Smith
Full name Petrus Francois Smith
Date of birth (1972-07-29) 29 July 1972 (age 45)
Place of birth Lichtenburg, South Africa
Height 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
Weight 89 kg (14 st 0 lb; 196 lb)
School Hoërskool Sand du Plessis, Bloemfontein
University University of the Free State
Rugby union career
Position(s) Fly-half / Centre
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
1992–1995 Free State Cheetahs ()
1996–1997 Griquas ()
1998–99, 2002 Bulls ()
1998–2000 Blue Bulls ()
1999–2000 Newport 27 (38)
2001–2002 Pumas ()
2001–2002 Bologna 6 (10)
2003–2006 Treviso 60 (55)
Correct as of 8 May 2015
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1996–1999 South Africa (tour) 9 (62)
1996–1999 South Africa (test) 9 (23)
Correct as of 8 May 2015
Teams coached
Years Team
2005–2007 Free State Cheetahs
2007–2013 Treviso
2014–2015 Cheetahs
2014 Free State Cheetahs
2015 UFS Shimlas
2015–present Free State Cheetahs
2015–present Cheetahs

Petrus Francois Smith (born 29 July 1972 in Lichtenburg, South Africa) is former a South African rugby union player and currently the head coach of South African Super Rugby side the Cheetahs and Currie Cup side the Free State Cheetahs.[1][2] His regular playing position was fly-half or centre.

Playing career


Smith went to Hoërskool Sand du Plessis in Bloemfontein, where he earned a selection to the Free State Under-18 Craven Week team in 1990.[3] In 1991 and 1992, he regularly appeared for the Free State Under-20 side, as well as for the University of the Free State's rugby team, Shimlas. He also captained a South African Universities team that played against a South African Army XV.[4]

Free State Cheetahs

He made his first class debut in September 1992, playing at centre for the Free State's match against Western Transvaal in Round Two of the 1992 Lion Cup competition.[5] He remained with the Bloemfontein-based outfit until 1995, mainly appearing for their B team or as a replacement.


In 1996, Smith joined Kimberley-based side Griquas.[6] After one season playing for Griquas, Smith played himself into Springbok contention and was named in a 36-man squad at the end of the year.[7] He toured with the Springboks to Argentina, Wales and France[8] and featured in several tour matches, but did not feature in any test matches.

Bulls / Blue Bulls

At the start of 1998, Springbok coach Nick Mallett requested that Smith was loaned from the Cats to the Bulls for the 1998 Super 12 season.[9] He quickly established himself in the team and was also the leading South African points scorer at a point during the competition[10] before a knee injury forced him to miss the final four rounds. He also made the move to Pretoria a permanent one and represented the Blue Bulls in the 1998 Currie Cup. He also played for the Bulls in the 1999 Super 12 season and for the Blue Bulls in the 1999 Currie Cup.


In August 1999, it was announced that Smith would join Welsh Premier Division side Newport.[11] He made 27 appearances for them, scoring 38 points.[12]

Return to Bulls / Blue Bulls

After just one season in Wales, Smith returned to South Africa and rejoined the Blue Bulls,[13] representing them in the 2000 Currie Cup. He once again played for the Bulls in the 2001 Super 12 season.

Pumas / Bologna / Bulls

He moved to Witbank, where he played for the Pumas in the 2001 Currie Cup, before he had a short spell at Italian side Bologna.[14] He returned to play for the Pumas for the 2002 season and was once again included in the Bulls' squad for the 2002 Super 12 season.


Smith returned to Italy to join Treviso at the end of 2002.[15] He remained there for four seasons, making 60 appearances for the side. During his time at the club, he won the National Championship of Excellence with them in 2002–2003 and in 2003–2004 and also won the Coppa Italia in 2005.

Return to Free State Cheetahs

He returned to South Africa and to the side where it all started, the Free State Cheetahs, where he was included in their squad for the 2005 Currie Cup Premier Division, but failed to make an appearance. He retired at the end of 2005 to become the backline coach for the Free State Cheetahs.

South Africa

Smith played 9 test matches for South Africa. He made his debut on 6 December 1997 against Scotland and his last test match was on 7 August 1999 against New Zealand.

Coaching career

Free State Cheetahs

His first foray into coaching was to become the backline coach of the Cheetahs in 2006.[16]


After 18 months in that job, he returned to Italy to take over as head coach of former side Treviso.[17] He guided them to two National Championship of Excellence titles in 2008–2009 and in 2009–2010, as well as one Coppa Italia in 2010 and one Italian Supercup in 2009. He resigned in December 2013.[18]

Shimlas / Free State Cheetahs / Cheetahs

Upon his return to South Africa, he was re-appointed in his former role as backline coach of the Cheetahs.[19] He was also appointed as the head coach of university side UFS Shimlas[20] and he guided them to their first ever Varsity Cup championship in his first season in charge of the side.

In May 2015, it was announced that he would take over as head coach of the Free State Cheetahs.[21] A mere four days later, following incumbent head coach Naka Drotské's decision to retire,[22] Smith was also named as head coach of their affiliated Super Rugby side, the Cheetahs.[23]


  1. ^ "SA Rugby Player Profile – Franco Smith". South African Rugby Union. Retrieved 30 May 2016. 
  2. ^ "SA Rugby Player Profile – Franco Smith (duplicate)". South African Rugby Union. Retrieved 30 May 2016. 
  3. ^ "Cravenweekspan van die Vrystaat gekies" (in Afrikaans). Beeld. 2 June 1990. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  4. ^ "Jonges laat mens baie moed skep vir toekoms" (in Afrikaans). Beeld. 14 September 1992. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  5. ^ "Vrystaat kan verskil onderstreep" (in Afrikaans). Beeld. 15 September 1992. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  6. ^ "Nelie Smith gaan Griekwas afrig Eers saam met Markgraaff Van Julie af op sy eie" (in Afrikaans). Beeld. 17 January 1996. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  7. ^ "Pensketse van nuwe Springbok-span" (in Afrikaans). Beeld. 15 October 1996. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  8. ^ "Springbokspan" (in Afrikaans). Beeld. 31 October 1996. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  9. ^ "Franco Northern Bulls se losskakel" (in Afrikaans). Beeld. 29 January 1998. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  10. ^ "Sportnuus van oral" (in Afrikaans). Beeld. 17 April 1998. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  11. ^ "Newport lok OP bulstut na Wallis" (in Afrikaans). Die Burger. 28 August 1999. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  12. ^ "Franco Smith – Newport RFC". Newport RFC. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  13. ^ "Franco speel weer vir Bulle" (in Afrikaans). Die Burger. 3 May 2000. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  14. ^ "MJ Smith gaan in Italië speel" (in Afrikaans). Volksblad. 31 October 2001. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  15. ^ "Pumas soek in Kiwi-land na plaasvervanger vir Franco Smith" (in Afrikaans). Die Burger. 23 August 2002. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  16. ^ "Gaffie lugtig vir 'monster'" (in Afrikaans). Die Burger. 14 March 2006. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  17. ^ "Franco Smith nuovo capo allenatore del Benetton Rugby" (in Italian). Benetton Treviso. 20 May 2007. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  18. ^ "Comunicato Benetton Rugby" (in Italian). Benetton Treviso. 5 December 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  19. ^ "Naka slaan slag met Franco as hulpafrigter". Die Burger. 14 May 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  20. ^ "Nuutjies vir reeks om Varsitybeker" (in Afrikaans). Die Burger. 27 January 2015. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  21. ^ "Franco Smith Curriebeker breier" (in Afrikaans). Free State Cheetahs. 4 May 2015. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  22. ^ "Naka retires as coach" (Press release). Cheetahs. 8 May 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  23. ^ "Franco Smith takes over as coach" (Press release). Cheetahs. 8 May 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
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