Tuesday, 01 December 2020

Commentator honoured for 50 years in rugby

A RUGBY commentator has been honoured for more than 50 years in the game

A RUGBY commentator has been honoured for more than 50 years in the game.

Nigel Starmer-Smith, from Skirmett, was presented with the Vernon Pugh Award for distinguished service at the World Rugby Awards in London on Sunday.

He joined fellow winners including referee Nigel Owens and New Zealand?s Dan Carter in picking up awards at the ceremony the day after the world cup final at Twickenham.

Mr Starmer-Smith, 72, who lives with his wife Ros, played professionally for Harlequins in the Sixties. He was called up to the Barbarians in 1967 and two years later won the first of his seven England caps against South Africa.

After retiring from playing, he moved in to commentating, working for the BBC and presenting Rugby Special for 15 years. He also commentated on hockey at the 1988 Olympics in South Korea.

In 2003 he covered England?s victorious 2003 world cup campaign for ITV and then commentated on sevens tournaments across the world for Sky. He has also owned and edited Rugby World magazine.

More than 1,500 people attended the awards ceremony in Battersea, where a montage of pictures from Mr Starmer-Smith?s playing career were shown and excerpts of his commentary were played together with an interview with his son Charles.

He received the award from Bernard Lapasset, chairman of the International Rugby Board, to a standing ovation.

He said: ?I feel deeply humbled and honoured to receive this award. I?ve been so fortunate to be associated with this wonderful game of rugby after so many years.?

Mrs Starmer-Smith, who attended the ceremony along with the couple?s daughter-in-law Katie, added: ?He was really touched to receive the award. He has had a wonderful career in rugby and loved every minute of it.?

The World Rugby Awards were founded in 2001 and honour the best players, coaches and officials in the men?s and women?s game.

The Vernon Pugh award is named after the former IRB chairman and Heineken Cup founder, who died from cancer in 2003, aged 57.

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