Toronto Arrows return entire coaching staff for 2023 MLR season under Peter Smith

TORONTO — The Toronto Arrows are returning their coaching staff for the 2023 Major League Rugby season under head coach Peter Smith.

Smith is entering his fifth season as an Arrows coach and the second at the helm.

Rob Howley, the former Welsh international and British and Irish Lion scrum half, will serve as attack coach in his third campaign with the Arrows.

Francois Ratier, formerly head coach of the Canada’s women's team and interim coach of the Canadian men, is defence and skills coach while former Chilean international Francisco Deformes is forwards coach. Both are in their second year with the Arrows.

Cory Hector, in his fifth year with the club, returns as director and head coach of the Arrows academy.

"The consistency in our coaching group gives us a very stable platform to build off of for the season ahead,” Tim Matthews, the Arrows vice-president and GM, said in a statement. "Our group is fully aligned on our organizational goals — first and foremost, to bring the MLR Shield north to Toronto — and the entire team has hit the ground running in training camp."

A former fly half, Smith played rugby professionally in Wales (Ospreys) and Japan (Coca-Cola West Red Spark and Kubota Spears) before moving to the U.S. He spent a season as a kicker at the University of Central Missouri and had a stint in arena football with the Salina Liberty in Kansas and the Bloomington Edge in Illinois.

The 33-year-old Australian met his fiancée playing rugby for the Chicago Griffins before joining the Seattle Seawolves for MLR's debut season in 2018. He retired at the end of that year, after suffering a concussion, and joined the Arrows' coaching staff.

The Arrows open their fifth MLR season on Feb. 17 at Rugby ATL.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2023.

The Canadian Press