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Franco says 'arrivederci'

Tue, 30 Jul 2013 10:15
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It is not a sudden decision, but certainly very difficult

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Franco Smith, who has been with Benetton Treviso as player and then coach, since 2002 has announced that he will not be renewing his contract with Italy's top club after the coming season.

Smith, capped nine times for the Springboks as a flyhalf or an inside centre, originally went to Treviso to play for the club, which he did for three seasons.

In his playing days from 2002 to 2005 Treviso were twice the champions of Italy and once won the Coppa Italia. After the New Zealander Craig Green left the club, Smith became the coach and has coached the side for seven seasons which have included two league titles, one Coppa Italia and a Super Cup. (Supercoppa). For four seasons he has coached them in the Celtic League (Pro 12).  

He has announced that the coming season, 2013-2014, will be his last. Then he will be going home to South Africa where he hopes to carry on coaching. Smith, who has loved Italy, the place and the people, said in his announcement: "I have thought about it great deal and I have prayed. I will not renew the contract with Benetton. The 2013/14 season will be my last in Treviso. Treviso, players and fans, will always be in my heart..

"It is not a sudden decision, but certainly very difficult. I also wanted to take it now and let people know in time so that we can settle our children and better be able to organise our lives when we return to South Africa."

Smith, who turned 41 on 29 July, also said about the coming season: "I will be even more motivated. In my last year I would like to put the icing on the cake, I'll be much more determined. After six years of good rugby I'd love to continue and conclude the same way. There is no doubt that we will succeed."

Smith's early decision gives the club time to find a replacement and the names of Wayne Smith, Tabai Matson and Alessandro Troncon have been mentioned.

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