The National Times - Scotland and Lions prop Tom Smith dies aged 50

Scotland and Lions prop Tom Smith dies aged 50

Scotland and Lions prop Tom Smith dies aged 50
Scotland and Lions prop Tom Smith dies aged 50

Former Scotland prop forward Tom Smith, who also starred for the British and Irish Lions, has died aged 50, the Scottish Rugby Union announced Wednesday.

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Smith, capped 61 times by Scotland, had been diagnosed with colon cancer in 2019.

The SRU, in a Twitter post, hailed Smith as a "hugely respected player" who would be "greatly missed by everyone associated with rugby in Scotland and throughout the game."

Smith had won just three Scotland caps when he was selected for the Lions' 1997 tour of South Africa, where he helped out-scrummage a physically larger home pack during a 2-1 series win over the Springboks.

He was also involved four years later in the combined side's series win in Australia, where he became the only Scottish player to have played in six consecutive Tests for the Lions.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Tom Smith," said a Lions statement.

"Tom made an incredible impact for the Lions, touring in 1997 as well as 2001 and was one of the great props to play the game. Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this difficult time. RIP Tom."

Such was his impact, former Scotland and Lions coach Ian McGeechan described Smith as the "greatest Scotland player of the professional era".

Scotland great Jim Telfer, the forwards coach of the 1997 Lions, once said of Smith: "He was a rugby player first and a prop second. He was never compromised when he had the ball in his hands"

But Telfer also said: "He was always a very good scrummager -– he was the ideal shape because he had the bulk as well."

Smith captained Scotland and helped them win the last Five Nations Championship in 1999, with Italy becoming the 'sixth' nation the following year.

Born in England to a Scottish mother and English father, Smith's club career featured spells in three countries, including stints at Glasgow, French Top 14 side Brive and English Premiership club Northampton.

Following his retirement in 2009, Smith coached at Edinburgh and in France before his cancer diagnosis three years ago.