RUGBY UNION: Retiring Smith will focus on coaching

Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith

First published in Sport The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Sports reporter specialising in Rugby, Cricket and Athletics. Call me on 01865 425456

ANDREW Smith feels the time is right to hang up his boots after a career spanning almost 30 years of senior rugby.

The hugely experienced lock and player coach announced his retirement after helping Chinnor survive in National 2 South.

It was no mean feat for the former Barbarian to have been holding his own in English rugby’s fourth tier at the age of 45.

Asked if this was a good way to end his playing career, Smith (pictured) replied: “I think so.

“Four years ago when I joined we were in the league below, so I have left it in a better league place.

“I am not going to be a bit-part player. You have got to cut your ties some time.

“I want to to concentrate on the coaching side of it, stand on the sidelines and shout at people!”

Smith’s long career has also seen him play for the British Army, England Counties and London Scottish plus Bracknell and Newbury in the old National 1.

“I was a 28 when I went professional,” he said. “The game has changed a lot.

“The physicality has got a lot harder over the years.

“The warm-up used to be in the changing rooms with some people smoking a fag outside.

“Now it is a 40-minute warm-up before you even start the game.”

Although renowned as a hard-working second row, Smith began playing at full back before moving into the back row at 27.

“I was in the Army when all the Fijians joined,” he said.

“They all played in the back row, but didn’t like the front five.

“It was just a natural progression to go there and I became a second row.”

Smith and centre Matt Goode took over the reins at Chinnor last summer after Craig Chalmers quit as head coach.

“It was a tough dog fight this year,” he said.

“I think fitness is what has been lacking from last year.

“We have not concentrated on it so much.

“That is why we go quiet and have peaks and troughs.

“Hopefully, next year we will be a lot fitter. We have got a good squad.

“We have been competitive in each game apart from two.”

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