It’s not commonplace for props to quote ancient Roman philosophers but Allan Dell has endured plenty of time for soul-searching across his career. 

The 31-year-old has experienced injury torment and he even considered retirement after sustaining recurring back and groin injuries four years ago. After overcoming those injuries, Dell was troubled again when he joined Glasgow in July 2022 as a calf problem made him wait seven months to make his debut. 

Dell has developed an introspective view on the trials and tribulations of being a professional rugby player but he’s enjoying playing again under Franco Smith. The South African coach has overseen a culture change at Glasgow since replacing Danny Wilson and Dell admires his approach as he referenced Lucius Annaeus Seneca.  

“I enjoy it,” Dell admitted of Smith's philosophy. “Look, he’s a good coach. There’s that tough love but at the same time, he lets you go out and express yourself.

“You can see how well Treviso are doing and Italian rugby in general and it’s no coincidence that Franco played a part in a lot of the young guys coming through. He came in and established a vision and a pathway and you can see they are reaping the benefits of that.

“And you have to have a vision. You can’t just be thinking, ‘Let’s do this and whatever happens’. You’re probably not going to end up in the right place. What’s that saying, ‘If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable’?

“If you’ve got no vision then how are you going to measure success and how are you going to improve? Look at Treviso and Italy at the moment, there are a lot of good young players coming through, and look how well both their sides are doing. 

“I think Franco’s got that. He wants people to buy in. He’s not selling you anything but he wants you to come on the journey that he envisions and he wants you to come and be part of it. And before rugby, he wants you to be the best human individual you can, and then you contribute that to the rugby side because happy people will make good rugby players and I think the way we play rugby is physically demanding but when the guys are happy and expressing themselves they are playing their best rugby.

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“The vision’s great. Franco’s a good coach, he’s had great success and he’s been rewarded with a longer contract and I’m really happy for him. Now we need to build on last season. Last season was great but now we need to deliver because we’ve got the quality so this is the next step in the vision.

“We’re going well. We could be in a better place but there’s a lot to improve on which means there’s a lot more to come from us. It’s exciting.”

Dell moved to Glasgow last summer just weeks before London Irish’s financial problems became public knowledge. The English club eventually filed for administration and Dell admits he was lucky that he rejected an option to extend his contract, but the former British and Irish Lion wasn’t surprised by their money issues.

“Even now I’m still quite confused about the whole situation," he admitted. "Mick (Crossan) loved the club and he’s a successful businessman so it’s not like he’s struggling financially. But the way the club was being run, you can’t have a profitable business model in Premiership rugby. If you’re not loaded or willing to carry on spending that cash…. When the consortium came in it was kind of fishy.

“I just thought that logically it didn’t make any sense at a club that was losing on average £4m a year and to make it profitable. Mick said he was prepared to give the club away for £1 to someone who can take it forward. And I thought, ‘oof’. But I had already left by that point. 

“When I was there you didn’t really think there were any issues. The club was being run well. So the guys were shocked when it happened, we all were. We didn’t see any way the club was going to go down. Luckily a lot of the players and staff have found their feet. But it’s never nice.”

Glasgow face the URC’s only unbeaten side Benetton on Saturday night and Dell is solely focused on forcing his way into Smith’s starting fifteen but a return to the Scotland set-up would be a massive bonus with the Six Nations on the horizon. 

“I’m not looking that far ahead just now but if you talk about the bigger picture then you want to play at the highest level that you can," he admitted. "If that means I can produce the level that Scotland wants from me then I’d love that. 

“But right now it’s about getting consistently on the field for Glasgow. That’s my next target. I need to keep working hard and building the minutes. And then if the road takes me to Scotland then it takes me there.”