Gregor Townsend and Andy Nicol have pledged to honour the memory of their late British & Irish Lions teammate Tom Smith, after becoming ambassadors for charity 40tude Curing Colon Cancer.
Smith, who toured twice with the Lions in 1997 and 2001, died in April 2022 from bowel cancer at the age of 50.
As a 40tude ambassador, Smith supported several fundraising challenges and Townsend and Nicol will now carry on his fine work and help the charity promote awareness and raise funds.
They are organising a special 40tude challenge in 2024 around Bordeaux, where Tom lived and where his family still live, and will regularly visit St Mark’s Hospital, the National Bowel Hospital, in London to meet leading medics and researchers.
Townsend’s career was intertwined with Smith’s at club and international level. They played for Northampton Saints and Brive together, while they also played key roles in the Lions’ famous 2-1 series win in South Africa in 1997.
Nicol, who toured twice with the Lions in 1993 and 2001, was a team-mate of Smith’s from school all the way through Scotland age-grade teams, in senior rugby for Dundee High School FP, and ultimately for the full Scotland team.
“It’s a great honour to take on the role of ambassador for 40tude and I look forward to teaming up with Andy,” Townsend said.
“It’s a huge privilege to be carrying on the work of Tom Smith, who was supremely brave and talented in equal measure both on and off the rugby pitch.”
There are 42,000 new cases of colon cancer in the UK each year – equating to 1 in 110 people diagnosed each day – while 16,000 people a year die because of it.
One in 15-20 people are at risk of developing the disease, which is the most common form of cancer in the UK for non-smokers.
Nicol added: “I am proud to be an Ambassador for 40tude to continue the memory of my friend and former teammate Tom Smith.
“I love how people get so connected with 40tude, whether it is the physical challenges they do or just fundraising and it is because everything 40tude does makes a tangible difference: real challenges, real projects, real results!”
For details of each of the programmes 40tude are helping to fund please see the website at https://www.40tude.org.uk