Franco Smith believes that being named URC Coach of the Year is all the more pleasing because the award was voted for by his peers. The South African was named as the recipient of the award yesterday, just days after leading Glasgow to their first European final.

The Warriors lost that Challenge Cup clash to Toulon, and also lost out to Munster in the URC quarter-finals. Over the piece, however, Smith enjoyed a successful and rewarding first season at Scotstoun as he restored a sense of purpose to a squad that had lost its way.

“It was a huge surprise to me, really,” Smith said on the Warriors’ website about the award. “It’s a huge privilege – no-one goes into this kind of job to chase individual awards, and to have this award voted for by my peers makes it even more special. There are some unbelievably talented coaches in the URC, so to be recognised by them is a real honour.

“From day one, it was important to get to know the players and where the strengths of this group lie. We felt it important to sell our dream and our belief to this group, and they have bought in right from day one. Everyone was open-minded and open to change, and from the players, the coaching team and the people behind the scenes, everyone has played their part in the journey on which we are just starting out.”

Appointed in August last year, Smith had a difficult pre-season when Worcester Warriors pulled out of one of Glasgow’s warm-up games and the other against Ulster was cancelled because of the death of the Queen. That left the new boss with just one match – a low-key affair in Inverness against the semi-pro Ayrshire Bulls – in which to prepare for the new campaign.

Inevitably, they looked undercooked in their first game, a 33-11 defeat by Benetton in Treviso which only increased the scepticism felt in many quarters about the new appointment. Just seven days later, however, they cruised to a 53-24 win at home to Cardiff. It was the first of a long sequence of victories at Scotstoun that was interrupted only by a Challenge Cup draw with Bath, and finally ended only in that quarter-final defeat by Munster at the start of this month.

While the home form was good from the start, the real improvement came on the road in December. If a first away win of the season against Zebre was only to be expected, victories in the Challenge Cup at Bath then at home to Perpignan were not. Back-to-back triumphs in the 1872 Cup against Edinburgh followed, and the good form continued into the New Year, culminating in that run to the final of the Challenge Cup and the qualification for the URC play-offs.

“I cannot speak highly enough of Franco’s impact since arriving at Scotstoun,” Warriors managing director Al Kellock said. “From day one, he has fully bought into what this club means to everyone associated with Glasgow Warriors and has brought the best out of the players on the field. He has also played a key role in driving our culture and standards this season, and he has led from the front this season.

“As Franco himself has said, though, this is only the beginning for this group. I’m excited, as I’m sure are our supporters, to see where Franco, the coaches and this group of players take this club next season.”

URC Awards 2022-23

BKT Coach of the Season: Franco Smith (Glasgow Warriors)

OFX Top Try Scorer: Tom Stewart (Ulster)

Tackle Machine: John Hodnett (Munster)

Turnover King: Thomas Young (Cardiff)

Elite XV: Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls); Darcy Graham (Edinburgh), Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors), Daniel du Plessis (Stormers), Simone Gesi (Zebre); Ross Byrne (Leinster), Grant Williams (Sharks); Steven Kitshoff (Stormers), Dan Sheehan (Leinster), Finlay Bealham (Connacht), Niall Murray (Connacht), Federico Ruzza (Benetton), Vaea Fifita (Scarlets), Scott Penny (Leinster), Gavin Coombes (Munster).

Next-Gen Player of the Season: Tom Stewart (Ulster)

Vodacom Fans’ Player of the Season: Manie Libbok (Stormers)

Try of the season: Joaquin Riera (Benetton against the Sharks in round 17)

Gilbert Golden Boot: Johan Goosen (Bulls)

Ironman: Quan Horn (Lions).

Meanwhile, Glasgow and Scotland centre Sam Johnson has been called up to the Barbarians squad for the Killik Cup match against a World XV at Twickenham on Saturday. Johnson, who is about to be released by the Warriors, joins Scotstoun team-mates Enrique Pieretto and Sione Vailanu in the squad, which is being coached by Eddie Jones.

The World XV, coached by Steve Hansen, features Glasgow’s Fraser Brown, Oli Kebble and Allan Dell along with Edinburgh’s Bill Mata and Adam Hastings of Gloucester.