Scotland and Lions legend Tom Smith dies aged 50

Scotland and Lions great Tom Smith has passed away at the age of 50.

Scotland and Lions great Tom Smith has passed away at the age of 50.

The loosehead prop was regarded as one of the greatest Scotland players of all time and was part of the team that won the 1999 Five Nations Championship.

He was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer in 2019.

Smith won 61 caps in all and was instrumental to Scotland’s success in the final Five Nations. He was also an influential player on two British & Irish Lions tours, playing all six Tests across the series in 1997 and 2001.

His role in the first of those tours, a 2-1 series victory over the world champions, South Africa, made him a household name despite having just three caps to his name prior to touring.

And the great Sir Ian McGeechan described Smith as “the greatest Scotland player of the professional era”.

Despite being relatively small for a prop, Smith was renowned as a brilliant technical scrummager, but what set him apart was his ability with ball in hand.

In that respect, he was ahead of his time and it was a large part of why he was such a prominent player for Scotland over an eight-year international career.

He played 33 times in the Championship in all, including three of the four matches in 1999, missing only the final victory in Paris after suffering an injury in victory over Ireland in the previous round.

Smith’s last appearance for his country came in the 2005 Championship away to England at Twickenham.

At club level he played for Dundee HSFP, Watsonians, Caledonian Reds, Glasgow Caledonians, Brive and Northampton Saints.

And after retirement he went into coaching at Edinburgh and in Lyon.

He stepped back from coaching after the cancer diagnosis and presented the match ball before Scotland’s clash with South Africa in November.

Tributes to Smith from all corners of the rugby world poured in following the announcement.