Australian rugby mourns passing of respected journo Terry Smith

by Iain Payten

AUSTRALIAN rugby has farewelled one of its respected scribes, with former News Limited rugby writer and Sydney club doyen Terry Smith passing away last week.

Smith, 81, died after a long illness.

The former sports journalist enjoyed a celebrated career covering numerous sports on radio and in newspapers, and he wrote several books as well.

Smith was a prolific golf, cricket, boxing and athletics journalist but was best known as the rugby correspondent for News Limited for several decades.

He covered dozens of Wallabies tours and was the only journalist to cover the 1984 Grand Slam tour and the Wallabies' Bledisloe Cup win in New Zealand in 1986.

Both milestones are yet to be repeated.

Smith was also dedicated to writing about club rugby, and was the man behind Sydney rugby's most-read column - the Barfly Buzz.

The column, which featured in the famous Rugby News publication that doubled as a match program for all grade games, was a weekly collection of news and snippets that showed Smith's wide connections.

Under editors Eric Spilstead and Jim Davis, Smith and the Barfly Buzz covered all the latest club gossip, player movements, scandals and more than a few rising rookies to watch who went on to become Wallabies.

Smith began his sports writing career covering golf, and was the Sun's correspondent for 17 years. He covered major tournaments around the world.

He moved into rugby writing and was the chief rugby journalist for the Daily Mirror, and then the Daily Telegraph. 

The role saw Smith cover the 15-man game for many of News Limited's national mastheads, and he attended several Rugby World Cups.

Smith also worked for 2GB as a rugby commentator.

During these decades, Smith also continued to cover golf, boxing, athletics and cricket for News Limited and he was as well known in both sports for writing about all levels of those games as well; from grassroots up to international.

Smith also penned a number of books, including "Path to Victory: Wallaby Power in the 80s", which he co-authored with former Wallabies skipper Mark Ella.

After winding down from full-time duties last decade, Smith continued to write a club rugby column each week for the Sunday Telegraph.

Smith leaves behind his wife Sybilla, sons Justin and Roger and their families.

* Terry Smith's funeral will be held on Wednesday September 5, at 10am, in the South Chapel, Northern Suburbs Crematorium, North Ryde.