Former Scotland captain and Lion Smith dies aged 50

By Sports Desk April 06, 2022

Former Scotland captain and British and Irish Lion Tom Smith has died at the age of 50.

Smith was diagnosed with stage four colorectal cancer in 2019 and sadly passed away on Wednesday.

Capped 61 times by his country, the inspirational ex-prop was inducted into the Scottish Rugby Hall of Fame last year.

Smith played a big part in the 1997 Lions series win in South Africa and toured Australia four years later, becoming the only Scottish player to have played in six consecutive Lions Tests.

Ian McGeechan, who coached Smith along with Jim Telfer in the Lions win over the Springboks, described him as "the greatest Scotland player of the professional era."

Smith played his club rugby for Glasgow Caledonia – now Glasgow Warriors – and Brive before joining Northampton Saints in 2001.

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    Dan Biggar was bemused by criticism of Wales' approach to their first Test in South Africa, wondering if they were expected to "just roll the carpet out".

    Wales came agonisingly close to a famous win in Pretoria, ultimately going down 32-29 following four costly yellow cards – including one for Biggar.

    After playing a brief period with 12 men, Wales had 13 on the pitch when an unlikely try gave Biggar a conversion that would have secured an improbable late lead.

    Instead, he missed the posts and was then punished for a knock-on at the other end, allowing Damian Willemse to settle the match from the tee.

    There would have undoubtedly been some relief in the Springboks camp as they were ultimately able to celebrate following their first home game in front of a crowd since winning the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

    Trailing 18-3 at half-time, South Africa captain Siya Kolisi acknowledged afterwards: "They [Wales] got under our skin."

    There were multiple confrontations between the two sets of players off the ball, and Kolisi added his team "did a couple of things out of character".

    When Biggar subsequently faced the media, he could not understand why Wales were expected to shoulder the blame for incidents of this nature.

    "I don't know what the referee expected us to do," he said. "Just come here, lie down and give South Africa everything their own way?

    "From our point of view, we wanted to try to get in their faces, get in their faces and not take a backwards step. That's part of the game.

    "We were coming here, and if you stand off South Africa out here, then you'll get steam-rolled pretty quickly. You need some aggression and competitiveness and get into it.

    "I didn't see any issue. They were just as niggly, competitive and as abrasive as we were. From our point of view, that was perfect for us.

    "The decisions will be analysed. But from our point of view, I don't understand why people are bothered about it.

    "It's a Test match, and we're away from home against the world champions. I'm not quite sure what people expected from us, just roll the carpet out and applaud them off the pitch?

    "I don't know what the issue is. It's a Test match and we were more than happy to get stuck into them. That's what Test matches are about.

    "I really don't understand. I see it as a non-event. That's exactly what you want from a Test match; you want it confrontational, you want it aggressive.

    "There was no dirty play or anything. We just went at it and got confrontational. It worked for us, certainly in the first half.

    "I've got no issue whatsoever. Whatever happens on the field, you shake hands afterwards, and there is absolutely zero issue."

  • Springboks snatch last-gasp win as Wales pay price for four yellow cards in Pretoria Springboks snatch last-gasp win as Wales pay price for four yellow cards in Pretoria

    World champions South Africa required an 83rd-minute penalty from Damian Willemse to defeat an indisciplined Wales side 32-29 in Pretoria.

    The Springboks' first home match in front of a crowd since winning the 2019 Rugby World Cup was an epic – albeit not the sort the South Africa fans might have anticipated.

    Despite four yellow cards that saw Wales squander a half-time advantage, Wayne Pivac's men almost rescued a remarkable result, only to be denied at the last.

    Two Louis Rees-Zammit tries gave Wales a commanding lead, but Dan Biggar headed to the sin bin shortly before the interval, and Bongi Mbonambi powered over following the restart.

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  • Jones: Swain red card worked against England Jones: Swain red card worked against England

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    England initially took advantage of their opponents being down to 14 men thanks to Ellis Genge's try early in the second half, only to then collapse in remarkable style.

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    The visitors were five points ahead with 20 minutes left but went on to lose 30-28, and Jones says their terrible final-quarter showing was not helped by Swain's earlier sending off.

    "In some ways, the red card can work against you. Sometimes the referee wants to compensate. We didn't adjust as well as we should have," Jones told Sky Sports.

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    "We need to work on our finishing and a bit on our defence as well. There are still some positives to come from what has been a very disappointing result for us."

    Jones clarified at his news conference that he did not blame referee James Doleman for his side's defeat in Perth, but reiterated Swain's exit inadvertently helped Australia.

    "You look at the history of the game, whenever you get a red card the referee evens it up. He helps the team with the red card," he said.

    "It's social reciprocity, it happens, that's normal and we've got to be good enough to handle it.

    "It happens in every game of rugby I've seen. The team gets a red card and the opposition gets evened up. Because they're nice blokes, referees.

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    England's defeat was their first against Australia in nine Tests amid a run stretching back to October 2015, pre-dating Jones' time in charge.

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    Swain was repeatedly provoked by England's players, with Jonny Hill seen pulling his hair, but Australia coach Dave Rennie is unsure if that was a deliberate ploy from the opposition.

    "I'm not sure if it was a team plan, but there was certainly provocation there. Not just in that situation but also earlier in the game," he said.

    "We'll have a decent look at the footage and work out how we're going to appeal that. We'll have decent look at the card. We'll be seeking clarity around it.

    "We train with the scenario of playing with 14 or 13 players all the time. What we know is that we just have to work harder. We found a way."

    Australia have now won their last five Tests on home soil – their best-such run since 2008 – and five of their last eight when hosting European opposition.

    The second match in the three-Test series takes place in Brisbane next Saturday, before concluding in Sydney the following weekend.

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