Smith set to hang up his boots
April 22, 2009
Northampton prop Tom Smith has announced that he will hang his boots up at the end of the season © Getty Images
Northampton prop Tom Smith has announced that he will retire from the game at the end of the season.
In a stellar career he has earned six British and Irish Lions Test caps, 61 Scotland caps and made nearly 200 appearances for the Saints. He played in six consecutive Test matches for the Lions spanning the victorious tour of South Africa in 1997 and the narrow defeat to Australia four years later.
It was on the tour to South Africa that Smith made his name with Lions assistant coach Graham Rowntree insisting he changed the art of propping with his formidable display against the Sppringboks. Although he had just three Scotland caps to his name, his front-row partnership with Keith Wood and Paul Wallace was the cornerstone of the Lions' 2-1 series victory.
Smith had made his Scotland debut earlier that year in the Calcutta Cup match and was a first choice for his country for eight years, winning the Five Nations in 1999 and leading them throughout the 2001 Autumn Internationals. Smith was also Scotland's Player of the Season in 2000/2001. After an international career that included two World Cups, Smith's final match in the blue jersey came, appropriately enough, against England in the 2005 Six Nations clash at Twickenham.
After a club career that included spells at Glasgow Caledonians, Watsonians and Brive, Smith made his Northampton debut on September 1st, 2001. Over the subsequent eight seasons his appetite for the action has not diminished; neither has his popularity with the Saints' fans. His time at Franklin's Gardens included two Powergen Cup finals, a Heineken Cup semi-final and three Heineken Cup quarter finals.
Renowned for his excellent scrummaging and slick hands Smith will play his final rugby match at Franklin's Gardens in his Testimonial Match on Saturday, May 9.
"There have been plenty of highlights during my career and I have worked with some great coaches and players," Smith said. "Obvious highlights are the 1997 Lions tour to South Africa and winning the 1999 Five Nations with Scotland. Being part of the '97 Lions was an incredible experience, especially working with Ian McGeechan and Jim Telfer. Working with Wayne Smith at the Saints was also very enjoyable.
"I've thoroughly enjoyed my time at Northampton. It is a community club with great fans and Franklin's Gardens has been a good home for the past eight years. I will take away some great memories such as the Heineken Cup quarter final win in San Sebastian and other big European matches at Franklin's Gardens. I have been fortunate enough to have played at such a special club and have made many close friends along the way. I would like to thank Keith and Maggie Barwell and wish the Saints every success in the future.
"Finally, I wouldn't have had the career I've had without the support of my wife Zoe and children Angus and Amélie and I would like to thank them and the rest of my family and friends."
"Tom has been one of the best players in the world in his position and it has been a pleasure to work with him over the past two years," said director of rugby Jim Mallinder. "What he has achieved during his career is something young players should aspire to. He has played at the highest level, won a test series with the Lions and experienced all the highs and lows that come with professional sport.
"I, like everyone here at the Saints, would like to wish Tom all the best for the future."