Tom Smith, the former Scotland and British and Irish Lions prop, has died at the age of 50. Smith played for Scotland between 1993 and 2002, making 37 appearances for his country. He also toured with the British and Irish Lions twice, in 1997 and 2001.
Smith, who was capped 46 times by Scotland between 1990 and 2000, had been suffering from motor neurone disease. He played in two World Cups for Scotland – in 1991 and 1999 – as well as touring with the Lions in 1997.
After retiring from rugby, Smith worked as a pundit and commentator for BBC Radio Scotland and Sky Sports. Smith’s death was announced by his family on social media on Thursday evening. “It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father and grandfather, Tom Smith,” they said in a statement.
“Tom passed away peacefully surrounded by his family after a long battle with illness. He was a loving husband to Sarah, father to David and Jemma, and grandfather to Elliot and Isla. “He was a true gentleman and will be deeply missed by all who knew him.”
“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our husband, father and brother, Tom Smith,” his family said in a statement. “Tom passed away peacefully surrounded by his family after a brave battle with motor neurone disease.” Smith’s funeral will be held in his hometown of Galashiels on Tuesday.
Tributes have been paid to Smith from the world of rugby, with Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend saying he was “devastated” by the news.
“I am devastated to hear of Tom’s passing,” Townsend said. “He was an incredible rugby player who achieved so much in the game, but more importantly he was a wonderful husband, father and friend.”
Former Scotland captain Gavin Hastings added: “I am truly saddened to hear of Tom’s passing. He was a great prop forward and a key member of that successful Scotland team of the early 1990s.”
British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland said Smith was “a great man”. “Tom was a great man, a true gentleman and one of the nicest guys you could ever wish to meet,” Gatland said. “On behalf of the British & Irish Lions family, I would like to pass on our deepest condolences to his wife Sheila, their children and all of Tom’s friends and family.”
Smith’s former Scotland team-mate Gavin Hastings paid tribute to the “great man” on social media. “So sad to hear of the passing of Tom Smith,” Hastings tweeted. “A great man, a wonderful rugby player and a fine commentator. My thoughts are with his family at this time.”
Former England prop Matt Stevens also paid tribute to Smith, calling him “a kind and gentle giant”. “So sad to hear that Tom Smith has passed away,” Stevens tweeted. “A kind and gentle giant off the field but a fierce competitor on it. A man that was always happy to help out and give advice. “My thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.”
Scottish Rugby also paid tribute to Smith, tweeting: “We are deeply saddened by the news of the passing of former Scotland prop Tom Smith. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.”
Smith is survived by his wife Sheila and their three children.