John Smith, a triple Blue who went on to play four times for England and then became President of the RFU, has died at the age of 95.
The former Marling School and St Catharine’s College student would also have played for the 1950 British & Irish Lions had his course work not got in the way. He scored four tries in four outings ono the wing for England in the Five Nations that season and was invited to tour New Zealand and Australia.
Having gone up to Cambridge on a special forces scholarship after joining the Parachute Regiment at the end of WW2 he wasn’t granted permission to suspend his agriculture studies and so missed out on the four-month long tour with the Lions as he decided to continue with his degree.
Born in Stroud on 23 May, 1926, Smith played on the wing for the Light Blues against Oxford at Twickenham in 1948, 49 and 50 and won his England caps while still a student. Unfortunately, he was never on the winning side in the Varsity Matches.
One of eight debutants for England at Twickenham on 21 January,1950, he marked the occasion with a try against Wales in an 11-5 defeat. Wales, captained by one of his Light Blue team mates in 1948, John Gwilliam, went on to win the Grand Slam.
He tasted his only international victory, and his sole triumph in major matches at Twickenham, in a 3-0 win over Ireland in the second round of the championship. He scored England’s only points with a try in a 6-3 defeat in Paris and then crossed the Scottish line twice at Murrayfield in a 13-11 Calcutta Cup defeat as England finished bottom of the table.
After leaving Cambridge he played for Stroud, Rosslyn Park and Gloucestershire and scored five tries in seven outings for the Barbarians. He fractured his spine on a training exercise while serving in the Parachute Regiment, yet still battled back to play for England.
His playing career was eventually cut short by a shoulder injury. He became President of the RFU in the 1982-83 season.