Tom Smith of Scotland makes a break during the Six Nations match between Wales and Scotland at The Millennium Stadium on February 14, 2004
Tributes are being paid across world rugby to the former Scotland and British & Irish Lions prop Tom Smith, who has sadly passed away aged 50.
Smith, who had been battling colon cancer since 2019, played for Edinburgh Rugby and Northampton Saints during a career where he also won 61 caps for his country between 1997 and 2005.
The London born forward went on tour with the Lions twice, first to South Africa in 1997 then to Australia in 2001, and won six caps in the famous red jersey.
After hanging up his boots he returned to Edinburgh where he worked as a forwards coach between 2009 and 2012 then moved to Lyon Olympique in France to take up a similar role from 2012 to 2015.
Smith was diagnosed with stage four colorectal cancer in 2019.
“Simply inspirational” - former teammates lead tributes to Tom Smith
Since Scottish Rugby confirmed the news of Smith’s passing on Wednesday, April 7, his legacy has been praised by members of the rugby community from all over the world.
Among those leading the tributes are his former teammates, including Scotland’s all time leading points scorer Chris Paterson.
Paterson, who played with Smith at Scotland and Edinburgh, said: “Tom was simply inspirational. He was someone who had an aura that I didn’t experience with any other player and commanded instant respect. As well as being a wonderful rugby player, he was a lovely, warm generous person and made you feel ten feet tall when he spoke to you.”
Current Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend, another former teammate, said: “Tom was one of the toughest and most skilful players I had the pleasure to call a teammate. 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.”
Many others who knew Smith have taken to social media to share their memories of the prop including many more of his former teammates.
@DoddieWeir5: “unbelievably sad news. He was one of the very best, as a person, as a friend and as a player. An unassuming legend, you’d always want him on your side. My thoughts are with his family. Rest easy Tammy Troot.
@ScottHastings13: “Oh this has come as a terrible shock. Played with Tom @WATSONIANFC & he was an amazing player. Won the @Melrose7s in 1996 & his performance that day was outstanding. So proud that he went on to be capped for @Scotlandteam & Lion @lionsofficial A very special human being RIP Tom”
@StuartWHOGG_: “Deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Tom Smith. A true legend of the game, he will be missed by everyone. Thoughts are with Tom’s family and friends. RIP Tom”