Wallabies legend George Smith has been honoured for his incredible career, with the announcement that he will be the 164th inductee into the World Rugby Hall of Fame at the World Rugby Awards held in Paris on October 29.
Smith is 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.
He will be inducted alongside Dan Carter (New Zealand), Thierry Dusautoir (France), Juan Martín Hernández (Argentina) and Bryan Habana (South Africa).
Rugby Australia CEO, Phil Waugh celebrated Smith’s ascension into the Hall of Fame.
“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 team-mate.
“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.”
Plucked from relative obscurity to make his test debut as a 20-year-old against France at the Stade de France in November 2000, George Smith would go on to become arguably Rugby’s first openside superstar.
In his first year on the international stage, Smith played a major role in Australia’s famous series win against the British and Irish Lions as well as securing a Tri Nations title.
In 2003, having become a mainstay of the Wallabies back-row, Smith made his Rugby World Cup debut as Australia beat Argentina 24-8 in Sydney. He would go on to score his first tournament try during a 90-8 defeat of Romania, while his second proved crucial to a narrow 17-16 win against Ireland. Victory sent the hosts through to the quarter-finals as Pool A winners and subsequent defeats of Scotland and New Zealand secured their passage to the Final, in which Smith played all 100 minutes. During his second Rugby World Cup at France 2007, Smith became the 75th player to captain the Wallabies when he led the team out for a 37-6 defeat of Canada in Bordeaux, scoring one of his side’s six tries. Smith would go on to captain Australia a further six times, and became a Test centurion in July 2009, wearing the number seven jersey in a Bledisloe Cup clash at Eden Park.
After announcing his international retirement in February 2010, Smith made a remarkable return to the Wallabies in 2013, starting the deciding match of the Lions series in his 111th and final Test. The two-time John Eales Medalist won two Super Rugby championships for the ACT Brumbies in 2001 and 2004, and was named Super Rugby Player of the Year four times.
He played 142 games for the Brumbies to go with 22 appearances for the Queensland Reds, as well as playing stints with Toulon, Suntory Sungoliath, Stade Français, Lyon, and Wasps. He hung up his boots in 2019 with his place as one of the greats of the modern game firmly assured.
Fellow inductee and Chairman of the Hall of Fame panel John Eales celebrated the recognition of Smith along with the other legends.
“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.” The five inductees bring the total in the Hall of Fame to 166 since it began in 2006. 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)