As the current copy of Wallabies look to fight their way out of the mire following their earliest ever World Cup exit they’ve been given a reminder of the golden era with legend George Smith to be inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame.
Smith, a powerhouse for the Wallabies in his 111 Tests having been plucked from relative obscurity to make his debut in France in 2000, will become just the 19th Australian to go into the Hall of Fame, joining the likes of George Gregan, John Eales, David Campese, Mark Ella and Nick Farr-Jones.
The bullocking back-rower played in an era of wins for the Wallabies, playing a major role in Australia’s famous series win against the British and Irish Lions as well as securing a Tri Nations title in his first year on the international stage.
Smith also played all 100 minutes of the 2003 World Cup final loss to England in Sydney, captained the Wallabies during the 2007 World Cup and was a two-time John Eales medalist as Australia’s best player.
Former teammate and now Rugby Australia CEO, Phil Waugh, lauded Smith as a “warrior” who deserved the ultimate accolade.
“This is a thoroughly deserved recognition of George’s greatness in the gold jersey,” he said.
“I had first-hand experience of his excellence growing up playing junior club Rugby against each other on Sydney’s northern beaches, as a fierce opponent in Super Rugby, and as a Wallabies teammate.
“George personified the spirit of the Wallabies, and redefined what it would mean to wear the Wallabies’ number seven jersey for more than two decades, setting the standard for greats like Pocock and Hooper to follow.
“He was a warrior for the Wallabies in more than 100 Tests, and is one of the greatest Super Rugby players we’ve ever seen.”
Fellow Hall of Famer and former Wallabies captain, John Eales, said Smith, who was also named Super Rugby Player of the Year four times though his 142 games for the Brumbies, said Smith was one of five “exemplars of the athletic requirements of our game”.
“As our game celebrates another successful Rugby World Cup it is timely to recognise those who have contributed to making our game the wonderful global sport that it is,“ Eales said.
“Today we induct a series of Rugby players into the World Rugby Hall of Fame who have each thrived on the world stage as exemplars of the athletic requirements of our game, and just as importantly, as ambassadors of the values of our game. Congratulations to our five inductees.”
Smith, who only retired in 2019, was inducted along with Dan Carter (New Zealand), Thierry Dusautoir (France), Juan Martín Hernández (Argentina) and Bryan Habana (South Africa).
World Rugby Hall of Fame 2023 inductees
No.162 – Dan Carter (New Zealand)
No.163 – Thierry Dusautoir (France)
No.164 – George Smith (Australia)
No.165 – Juan Martín Hernández (Argentina)
No.166 – Bryan Habana (South Africa)