George Smith (rugby union)

Not to be confused with George William Smith (sportsman).
For other people named George Smith, see George Smith (disambiguation).
George Smith
At a training session of Stade Français, 2012
Date of birth (1980-07-14) 14 July 1980
Place of birth Manly, Sydney, Australia
Height 180 cm (5 ft 11 in)[1]
Weight 103 kg (16 st 3 lb)
School Cromer High School, Sydney
Notable relative(s) Tyrone Smith
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Flanker, Number Eight
Professional / senior clubs
Years Club / team Caps (points)
Suntory Sungoliath
Stade Français
Suntory Sungoliath
Super Rugby
Years Club / team Caps (points)
2000–10, 2013
142 (80)
correct as of 3 August 2013.
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
2000–2009, 2013 Australia 111 0(45)
correct as of 8 July 2013.

George Smith AM (born 14 July 1980) is an Australian rugby union player. He is a flanker for Suntory Sungoliath in the Japanese Top League, though he is more known for his 12 years (2000–10,13) at the ACT Brumbies in Super Rugby, earning 142 caps.[2]

He made his Test debut in 2000 against France in Paris and earning 111 caps for Australia,[2] 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. He holds the world record as the youngest player to have played 100 test matches at 29 years and 4 days.


Junior career

Smith was born in Manly, Sydney. He began playing rugby with the Manly Roos/Warringah Roos,[3] 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.[4]

He was signed to the ACT Brumbies by Eddie Jones in 1999.[5] He made his Super 12 debut in just his first year of professional rugby in 2000, playing against the Sharks,[2] 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.

Senior career

Smith was a key player for the Wallabies from 2000–09. He was often voted Players' Player of the Year,[6] awarded for fair-play by his team mates 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.[7]

He won Australian Super 14 Player of the Year four years in a row between 2006 and 2009.[8]

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;[9] Super 14 Player of the Year;[10] 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.[11]

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.[12] Smith celebrated with the achievement of his 9th Brumbies Players' Player of the Year, with eight of those awards being consecutive.[13] In June 2010, Smith signed a one-year contract with French Top 14 club Toulon.[14] His le Rugby Club Toulonnais team mates included former Highlander and All Black prop Carl Hayman,[15][16] and former Brumbies' scrum-half Matt Henjak.

In 2010, he was selected in the French Barbarians to play at blindside flanker (number 6) against Tonga.

In March 2011, Smith played for the Australia XV team alongside fellow Tongan, Lisiate Tafa, in the Southern Hemisphere Charity Fundraiser against the Pacific Barbarians.

In April 2011, Smith become the highest paid Australian rugby player by signing with Japanese club, Suntory Sungoliath, on a $3.3 million deal.[5]

On 25 February 2013, the Brumbies announced he would return to Australia on a short term contract, for the 2013 Super Rugby season.[17][18] This followed Ita Vaea's season-ending injury. Smith has the approval of his Japanese club Sungoliath for his 12-week stint back in Australia.[19]

On 23 June 2013, after recovering from a knee injury, Smith was recalled to the Australian squad for the series against the British and Irish Lions.[20] After being overlooked for the second test, Smith was named as the starting open side flanker for the third and deciding test in Sydney.[21] It would be his first test since his retirement from international rugby in February 2010 and would break Colin Meads' record of 4382 days between his first test against the Lions, and his last.

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.[22] During his season with Wasps, Smith won a number of awards; including Wasps' Players' Player of the Year, Wasps' Player of the Year,[23] Aviva Premiership Players' Player of the Year[24] and Green Flag Forward of the Season.[25] During his spell in England, Smith was also involved in the England coaching setup during the 2016 Six Nations Championship[26]

On 16 May 2016, it was announced Smith would leave Wasps in England to return to Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath.[27]

On 10 June 2016, the Queensland Reds announced that he would play in the 2017 and 2018 seasons. He will still play for Suntory Sungoliath in the Japanese Top League campaigns in Japan.

Personal life

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.[28] He told the Daily Telegraph "I wouldn't expect much for the (dreadlocks), but anything for the charity would be great.". They were given to a charity for younger people with cancer.

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

See also


  1. "2001 Australian Wallabies squad - British & Irish Lions Tour". Australian Rugby Union. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 "George Smith Player Profile". Brumbies Media. Archived from the original on 28 August 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
  3. Jon Geddes. The Daily Telegraph. MARCH 26, 2010. Retrieved 24 January 2015
  4. Brave and Game (2010). "Nurseries of Australian Schoolboys' Rugby" (pdf). Australian Schools Rugby Union. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  5. 1 2 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.
  6. "Super 14 Awards – Congratulations". Rugby Union Players Association. Archived from the original on 20 August 2006.
  7. "The John Eales Medal". Rugby Union Players Association. 31 August 2006. Archived from the original on 12 June 2007. Retrieved 31 August 2006.
  8. "Smith crowned player of series". Fox Sports. News. 1 June 2006. Archived from the original on 22 August 2006. Retrieved 31 August 2006.
  9. "Brumbies vote Smith the best". Fox Sports. News. AAP. 14 July 2007. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  10. Flanker George Smith wins Super 14 Australian player of the series award – International Herald Tribune
  11. "Smith wins sixth successive honour". Fox Sports. News. AAP. 11 July 2008. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  12. Ed, Jackson (5 February 2010). "Wallabies flanker George Smith retires from international rugby". Fox Sports. News. AAP. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  13. "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.
  14. "George Smith signs for Toulon". Planet Rugby. 3 June 2010. Archived from the original on 8 June 2010. Retrieved 4 June 2010.
  15. "Toulon swoop for George Smith". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax. 3 June 2010. Retrieved 4 June 2010.
  16. "Toulon swoop for George Smith". News. Radio New Zealand. 4 June 2010. Retrieved 4 June 2010.
  17. Brumbies Media Unit (25 February 2013). "George Smith sets for Brumbies Rugby return" (Press release). Brumbies. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
  18. "Another legend returns to Brumbies". Rugby 365. 25 February 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  19. ABC (25 February 2013). "Brumbies sign George Smith". ABC Grandstand. Australia: ABC. Reuters. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
  20. ARU (23 June 2013). "George Smith Called Into Squad" (Press release). Retrieved 3 July 2013.
  21. Dutton, Chris. "George Smith leads changes to Wallabies". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax. Retrieved 4 July 2013.
  22. "Wasps sign veteran Wallabies flanker George Smith". Sky Sports. 25 May 2015. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  23. "Aviva Premiership". Retrieved 2016-06-08.
  24. "George Smith and Maro Itoje scoop top gongs at RPA Awards". Mail Online. Retrieved 2016-06-08.
  25. "George Smith named Green Flag Forward of the Season". Retrieved 2016-06-08. External link in |website= (help)
  26. Lake, Jefferson (2016-01-20). "George Smith 'to help out' Eddie Jones' England coaching team".
  27. "Aussie veteran George Smith flys back to Japan". ARU News. 16 May 2016. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  28. Guinness, Rupert (20 September 2006). "By George, hair we go for charity". Daily Telegraph. News Limited. Retrieved 4 June 2010.


Preceded by
Inaugural award
John Eales Medal
Succeeded by
Phil Waugh
Preceded by
Stirling Mortlock
Australian national rugby union captain
Succeeded by
Rocky Elsom
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