Two-time tourist Sandy Carmichael dies aged 77

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Two-time tourist Sandy Carmichael dies aged 77

Two-time tourist Sandy Carmichael, recognised as one of the bravest and fairest players to have pulled on a British & Irish Lions jersey, has died at the age of 77.

The prop was part of the squads who toured New Zealand in 1971 and South Africa three years later, maintaining an amazing record of never being on the losing side for the Lions in the process.

He scored his sole Lions try against Wellington on a 1971 Tour which was brought to a premature end for the Scot in a stormy clash against Canterbury.

Carmichael suffered five fractures to the cheekbone in the fierce contest but showed his bravery by playing until the final whistle, after which he was forced to return home.

Undeterred, he was back to face the Springboks three years later, playing ten times to take his Lions tally to 16 appearances in all.

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Tributes have been pouring in and Carmichael’s Scotland and Lions teammate Ian McLauchlan, Lion #492, said: “Sandy was a gentle giant and a really, really good rugby player.

“He was obviously one of the all-time greats as far as Scotland is concerned but vastly popular throughout the rugby world.

“He was an amazing tourist. Nothing put him up nor down. He would never get up in the morning and be grumpy. You always found him the same – just Sandy.

“He was hugely motivated to work in any situation and with any team he played for. It’s a great loss.”

David Sole, Lion #619, revered Carmichael. He tweeted: “Sandy Carmichael’s 50 [Scotland] caps would be well over 100 in the modern game. An icon of the sport and one of my heroes when I was growing up.”

Meanwhile, three-time tourist John Beattie, Lion #551, said: “Terrible news that Scotland and Lions legend Sandy Carmichael has died.

“I will never forget playing with and against him and idolising him and his team mates. I once got the bus to Jordanhill to watch them train. I hid on the bushes. He really was superb”

A notoriously quick front-rower, in part due to playing at No.8 as a youngster, Carmichael made his Scotland debut against Ireland in 1967 and went on to win 50 caps for his country, a record for a Scottish forward at the time.

Those appearances included a heroic display in a rare win in Paris in 1969 and a key role in a 16-15 Five Nations win at Twickenham in 1969, Scotland’s first win at the home of English rugby for 31 years.

Domestically, Carmichael was part of the famed West of Scotland side who would battle for domestic supremacy with Hawick throughout the 1970s.

Carmichael was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee and Birthday Honours in 1977 and will be remembered as a key cornerstone of the pack during successful eras for both Scotland and the British & Irish Lions.

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