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George Smith AM (born 14 July 1980) is an Australian rugby union player. He is a flanker for Bristol Bears, though he is more known for his 12 years (2000–10,13) at the ACT Brumbies in Super Rugby, earning 142 caps.[1]

George Smith
George Smith Stade francais 2012-03-03 (cropped).jpg
Smith during a Stade Français training session
Date of birth (1980-07-14) 14 July 1980 (age 39)
Place of birthManly, Australia
Height180 cm (5 ft 11 in)
Weight103 kg (227 lb; 16 st 3 lb)
SchoolCromer Campus
Notable relative(s)Tyrone Smith (brother)
Rugby union career
Position(s) Flanker, Number 8
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
2000–2013 Brumbies 142 (90)
2010–2011 Toulon 30 (5)
2011–2017 Suntory Sungoliath 67 (87)
2012 Stade Français 8 (5)
2014–2015 Lyon OU 25 (15)
2015–2016 Wasps 26 (5)
2017–2018 Queensland Reds 22 (10)
2018–2019 Bristol 23 (0)
Correct as of 21 May 2019
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
2000–2013 Australia 111 (45)
2009–2015 Barbarian F.C. 6 (10)
Correct as of 21 May 2019

He made his test debut in 2000 against France in Paris and earning 111 caps for Australia,[1] 110 before retiring from international rugby on 5 February 2010 and one final cap against the British and Irish Lions on 6 July 2013. He is the second most capped Wallaby forward behind Nathan Sharpe, and is the second most capped flanker in rugby union behind Richie McCaw.[citation needed] He holds the world record as the youngest player to have played 100 test matches at 29 years and 4 days.

Early life and junior careerEdit

Smith was born in Manly, Sydney. He began playing rugby with the Manly Roos/Warringah Roos,[2] before moving on to play the majority of his junior career with the Manly Vikings, and Tupou College in Tonga, playing a year above his age group in the Sydney junior rugby competition. Once that team had reached its age limit (18 years old) and moved on to the colts competition, Smith remained in the Sydney junior rugby competition, this time lining up in his correct age group for the Seaforth-Balgowlah Raiders. He then progressed to playing in the Manly 1st grade Colts side who also won a premiership in 1999. It was during that season that Smith made his first grade debut at Nepean Rugby Park against The Penrith Emus. During his junior career he was selected for many representative teams, including Manly, Sydney, Northern Zone, NSW, and Australian Under 16s. Smith also had a successful school career, first at Balgowlah Boys High School, then at Cromer High School, where, along with Tongan international John Payne, he won the Australian Schools Championship. He played for the Australian Schoolboys team in 1998.[3]

Senior careerEdit

Brumbies and Australia: 2000–2010Edit

He was signed to the ACT Brumbies by Eddie Jones in 1999.[4] He made his Super 12 debut in just his first year of professional rugby in 2000, playing against the Sharks,[1] and he scored a try in the Brumbies Super 12 final loss to the Canterbury Crusaders. In a remarkable year, Smith was also capped for the first time in the Wallabies end of season tour against France.

Smith was a key player for the Wallabies from 2000–09. He was often voted Players' Player of the Year,[5] awarded for fair-play by his teammates and officials. He has recently been chosen as a member of the Wallaby Team of the Decade, a remarkable feat considering his age and one of only three current players picked. In 2002, he was the first recipient of the John Eales Medal, awarded by the Australian Rugby Union and the Rugby Union Players' Association to their Player of the Year.[6]

He won Australian Super 14 Player of the Year four years in a row between 2006 and 2009.[7]

In 2007 the breakdown specialist capped off another remarkable season claiming awards including: the Brett Robinson Award as the Brumbies' Players' Player for the fifth consecutive year;[8] Super 14 Player of the Year;[9] and the Rugby Union Players' Association 'Rugby Medal for Excellence'. These recognitions underlined his position as one of rugby's most respected players, reinforced further when he became the Wallabies 75th captain, against Canada at the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

2008 was a big year for Smith. He captained the Brumbies and the Wallabies and became the first player to win the John Eales Medal, twice. In addition, Smith won the "Super 14 Player of the Year Award", for the third consecutive year and the Brett Robinson Award as the Brumbies' Players' Player of the year for the sixth consecutive year.[10]

He also reached a personal milestone during the season, when he made his 100th Super Rugby appearance against the Cheetahs in round six. In a memorable double for the Smith family, George's younger brother, Brumbies teammate Tyrone, was named rookie of the year. In the international arena, the older Smith also became both the most capped flanker and the most capped forward – the latter being previously held by John Eales.

On 5 February 2010, Smith announced his retirement from international rugby. 2010 was expected to be his last in Super Rugby.[11] Smith celebrated with the achievement of his 9th Brumbies Players' Player of the Year, with eight of those awards being consecutive.[12]

Toulon, Stade Français and Suntory: 2011–2013Edit

In June 2010, Smith signed a one-year contract with French Top 14 club Toulon.[13] His RC Toulonnais teammates included former Highlander and All Black prop Carl Hayman,[14][15] and former Brumbies' scrum-half Matt Henjak. Later in 2010 he was selected in the French Barbarians to play at blindside flanker (number 6) against Tonga.[16]

Smith played for the Australia XV team alongside fellow Tongan, Lisiate Tafa, in the Southern Hemisphere Charity Fundraiser in March 2011 against the Pacific Barbarians.[17] In the following month Smith become the highest paid Australian rugby player by signing with Japanese club, Suntory Sungoliath, on a $3.3 million three-year deal.[4]

He joined Stade Français in 2012 on a short-term contract for the end of their Top 14 and European Challenge Cup seasons.[18]

Brumbies and Lions Series: 2013Edit

In early 2013 the Brumbies announced tha Smith would return to Australia on a short term contract for the 2013 Super Rugby season.[19][20] This followed Ita Vaea's season-ending injury. Smith gained the approval of his Japanese club Sungoliath for his 12-week stint back in Australia.[21]

Smith was recalled to the Australian squad in June that year for the series against the British and Irish Lions, after recovering from a knee injury.[22] After being overlooked for the second test, Smith was named as the starting open side flanker for the third and deciding test in Sydney.[23] It was his first test since retiring from international rugby in February 2010 and broke Colin Meads' record of 4382 days between his first test against the Lions, and his last.[citation needed]

Lyon and Wasps: 2014–2016Edit

After leaving French club Lyon on their relegation to the Pro D2, Smith made a move to England to sign for Wasps in the Aviva Premiership from the 2015-16 season.[24] During his season with Wasps, Smith won a number of awards; including Wasps' Players' Player of the Year, Wasps' Player of the Year,[25] Aviva Premiership Players' Player of the Year[26] and Green Flag Forward of the Season.[27] During his spell in England, Smith was also involved in the England coaching setup during the 2016 Six Nations Championship[28]

Queensland Reds and Suntory: 2016–2018Edit

In mid 2016 it was confirmed that Smith would leave Wasps in England to return to Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath,[29] and that he would also play for the Queensland Reds in the 2017 and 2018 Super Rugby seasons.[30]

On 13 July 2018, Smith played his final home game for Queensland Reds, having initially been ruled out with a knee injury. This was his final professional game in Australia.

Bristol: 2018–2019Edit

Smith joined the Bristol Bears in England for their 2018–19 Premiership Rugby season.[31] He retired from professional rugby at the end of that season.[32][33]

As part of the Tongan team preparation for the Rugby World Cup, Smith played for Tonga's 'Ikale Tahi against the Western Force at Nuku'alofa in August 2019.[34]

Personal lifeEdit

Smith, who is of Tongan background, is the older brother of fellow Brumbies player and Tongan rugby league international Tyrone Smith.

He was easily recognised on the field by his dreadlocked hair style until late 2006 – when he decided to sell his dreadlocks for charity.[35] They were given to a charity for younger people with cancer.

Smith was the face of the Australian version of Electronic Arts' video game Rugby 2005.

He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2012.[36]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c "George Smith Player Profile". Brumbies Media. Archived from the original on 28 August 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
  2. ^ Jon Geddes. The Daily Telegraph. MARCH 26, 2010. Retrieved 24 January 2015
  3. ^ Brave and Game (2010). "Nurseries of Australian Schoolboys' Rugby" (PDF). Australian Schools Rugby Union. Archived from the original (pdf) on 20 March 2012. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  4. ^ a b Guinness, Rupert (25 April 2011). "By George: $3.3m deal sees Smith become Australia's highest paid player". Sydney Morning Herald. Faifax. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
  5. ^ "Super 14 Awards – Congratulations". Rugby Union Players Association. Archived from the original on 20 August 2006.
  6. ^ "The John Eales Medal". Rugby Union Players Association. 31 August 2006. Archived from the original on 12 June 2007. Retrieved 31 August 2006.
  7. ^ "Smith crowned player of series". Fox Sports. News. 1 June 2006. Archived from the original on 22 August 2006. Retrieved 31 August 2006.
  8. ^ "Brumbies vote Smith the best". Fox Sports. News. AAP. 14 July 2007. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  9. ^ Flanker George Smith wins Super 14 Australian player of the series award – International Herald Tribune
  10. ^ "Smith wins sixth successive honour". Fox Sports. News. AAP. 11 July 2008. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  11. ^ Ed, Jackson (5 February 2010). "Wallabies flanker George Smith retires from international rugby". Fox Sports. News. AAP. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  12. ^ "Smith claims ninth and final Brett Robinson Award". Brumbies Media. 2 July 2010. Archived from the original on 26 February 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
  13. ^ "George Smith signs for Toulon". Planet Rugby. 3 June 2010. Archived from the original on 8 June 2010. Retrieved 4 June 2010.
  14. ^ "Toulon swoop for George Smith". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax. 3 June 2010. Retrieved 4 June 2010.
  15. ^ "Toulon swoop for George Smith". News. Radio New Zealand. 4 June 2010. Retrieved 4 June 2010.
  16. ^ "Classic Encounters - French Barbarians vs Tonga in Grenoble". 3 December 2010.
  17. ^ "Antipodean sport in London unites to raise quake and flood money". Australian Times. Archived from the original on 21 October 2019. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  18. ^ "George Smith to join Stade Francais". The Sydney Morning Herald. 21 March 2012. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  19. ^ Brumbies Media Unit (25 February 2013). "George Smith sets for Brumbies Rugby return" (Press release). Brumbies. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
  20. ^ "Another legend returns to Brumbies". Rugby 365. 25 February 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  21. ^ ABC (25 February 2013). "Brumbies sign George Smith". ABC Grandstand. Australia: ABC. Reuters. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
  22. ^ ARU (23 June 2013). "George Smith Called Into Squad" (Press release). Retrieved 3 July 2013.
  23. ^ Dutton, Chris. "George Smith leads changes to Wallabies". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax. Retrieved 4 July 2013.
  24. ^ "Wasps sign veteran Wallabies flanker George Smith". Sky Sports. 25 May 2015. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  25. ^ "Aviva Premiership". premiershiprugby.com. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  26. ^ "George Smith and Maro Itoje scoop top gongs at RPA Awards". Mail Online. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  27. ^ "George Smith named Green Flag Forward of the Season". wasps.co.uk. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  28. ^ Lake, Jefferson (20 January 2016). "George Smith 'to help out' Eddie Jones' England coaching team".
  29. ^ "Aussie veteran George Smith flys back to Japan". ARU News. 16 May 2016. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  30. ^ Newman, Paul (10 June 2016). "George Smith to join Queensland Reds for 2017 and 2018 Super Rugby seasons". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  31. ^ "Wallabies legend George Smith joins Bristol Bears". Bristol Bears. 20 June 2018. Archived from the original on 21 October 2019.
  32. ^ "George Smith: Ex-Australia captain retires after ending career at Bristol". British Broadcasting Corporation. 21 May 2019. Archived from the original on 9 June 2019.
  33. ^ "Bristol Bears show how despite having one foot out the door, legend George Smith still played his role". RugbyDump.com. 20 May 2019. Archived from the original on 5 June 2019.
  34. ^ "'Ikale Tahi beat Western Force 19-15". Matangi Tonga. 21 October 2019. Archived from the original on 21 October 2019.
  35. ^ Guinness, Rupert (20 September 2006). "By George, hair we go for charity". Daily Telegraph. News Limited. Retrieved 4 June 2010.
  36. ^ "26 January 2012". AustralianBroadcasting Corporation. 26 January 2012. Archived from the original on 26 January 2012.

External linksEdit

BibliographyEdit

  • Guinness, Rupert (2011). George Smith: The Biography. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 9781742374345.
Preceded by
Inaugural award
John Eales Medal
2002,2008
Succeeded by
Phil Waugh
Preceded by
Stirling Mortlock
Australian national rugby union captain
2007-2009
Succeeded by
Rocky Elsom