First capped against Wales in 1924, Ian Smith is still Scotland’s record try scorer with an incredible 24 tries in 32 appearances, also a record for tries scored in the International championship (now the Six Nations).
Part of the great Oxford University three-quarter line (along with Phil Macpherson, George Aitken and Johnny Wallace), Smith was the original Flying Scot and a lethal finisher – in the 1925 season he scored four tries against France and then another four against Wales the following week. He had blistering pace, reportedly a match for contemporary Eric Liddell with ball in hand, and a ruthless eye for the try line.
Born in Melbourne in 1903 and brought up in New Zealand, Smith was educated at Winchester and qualified to play for Scotland through family connections in the Borders. He was a key member of the ‘Immortals’ – the first Scottish side to win the Grand Slam in 1925, although in the deciding match with England Smith was marked so tightly as to be virtually anonymous. (He made up for this later by scoring at total of nine tries in eight matches against the Auld Enemy.)
Smith was a British Lion in 1924 – the first tour since the end of the First World War – when Dr Ronald Cove-Smith led a team to South Africa and played in the third Test of that unfortunate series.
In 1933 Smith captained the Scotland side that won the Triple Crown in Dublin, eventually defeating the Irish 8-6 after the first match was cancelled amid ferocious blizzards. It was Smith’s last international and a fitting end to an exceptional rugby career.