Tom Smith was hailed as one of Scotland’s “best-ever players” by national team coach Gregor Townsend on Wednesday following the former prop’s death aged 50.
Smith, capped 61 times by Scotland, had been diagnosed with colon cancer in 2019. He had won just three Scotland caps when he was selected for the Lions’ 1997 tour of South Africa, where he helped outscrummage a physically larger home pack during a 2-1 series win over the Springboks.
Smith was also involved four years later in the combined side’s series win in Australia, where he became the only Scotland player to have played in six consecutive Tests for the Lions.
“Tom was one of the toughest and most skilful players I had the pleasure to call a teammate,” said Townsend after the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) announced Smith’s death.
“He succeeded in the most challenging of environments and kept up a high level of play well into his thirties. Tom also did a tremendous amount for charitable causes and was a great family man.
“I am convinced that he will be regarded as one of our best-ever players and his loss will be felt by all those who played with him or watched him for club and country over the years.”
SRU chairman John Jeffrey added: “Today [Wednesday], Scottish Rugby has lost not only one of its greatest players but, more importantly, one of its greatest people. Tom embodied everything we like to espouse about our great game.
“Pound for pound, he probably was Scotland’s greatest international. Tom was without a doubt the most humble person I have ever met and all of Scottish Rugby’s thoughts go out to Zoe and the children.”
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.
RIP Tom Smith, absolutely heartbreaking news – not many props would score a try like this in today’s game, let alone 20 years ago – thoughts are with his family. pic.twitter.com/5Yg6QPFpIZ
— Andrew Forde (@andrewfrugby) April 6, 2022
We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Tom Smith.
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 ⭐️
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) April 6, 2022
Lost one of the greatest players I ever got to share the pitch with today. Tough, humble, quiet assassin and a top class room mate…we will all miss you dearly…..Tom’s family and friends in our prayers tonight RIP Tommy pic.twitter.com/qFrgslrgGQ
— PAUL WALLACE (@paulwally3) April 6, 2022
Scotland & @lionsofficial prop Tom Smith sadly passed away earlier today aged 50.
A hugely respected player, Tom will be greatly missed by everyone associated with rugby in Scotland and throughout the game.
All our thoughts are with Tom’s family and friends at this time. pic.twitter.com/nBLlDq7dH1
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) April 6, 2022
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