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Sandy Carmichael

Sandy Carmichael
Birth nameAlexander Bennett Carmichael
Date of birth (1944-02-02) 2 February 1944 (age 76)
Height6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight98 kg (216 lb)
Rugby union career
Position(s) Prop
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
- West of Scotland ()
Correct as of 15 November 2009
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1969-1979  Scotland
British and Irish Lions
Correct as of 15 November 2009

Alexander Bennett Carmichael MBE (b. 2 February 1944 in Glasgow) was a tighthead prop forward who played for West of Scotland F.C. and earned 50 caps in the Scotland national rugby union team from 1967 to 1978,[1][2] which was a record for a Scottish forward at the time.[3] He played for the British and Irish Lions on the 1971 tour to New Zealand, but was invalided out of the tour in Canterbury, after multiple punches by the opposition fractured his cheekbone.

Richard Bath writes of him that he was:

"A solid scrummager, he was a superb minder at the line-out and surprisingly for a prop, was well known as a great cover tackler."[1]

Allan Massie says that he was:

"...undoubtedly the fastest prop to have played for Scotland in modern times. He covered and tackled like a back-row forward: two notable try-saving tackles came in that heroic Scots win in Paris in 1969. He was powerful and very hard to stop with the ball in his hands, extremely formidable in a peel from the line-out. Some critics felt that he was insufficiently assertive, but his side gained on balance from his concentration on ball and game, and his disinclination to be drawn into private battles.... His speed in the loose was made him seem more like a French forward than a British one, and it would have been a joy seeing him playing in a French-style pack."[4]

Stephen Watt writes: Carmichael was an outstanding rugby player from an early age. His versatility as a prop was because he played at No. 8 for his school team (Loretto School, Musselburgh) where he was an early exponent of the "pick up and go" move from the base of the scrum.

Carmichael was part of the West of Scotland team in the 1970s - a powerhouse in UK rugby, averaging 10 internationalists in the team per season, and dominating the domestic league with West's great rivals, Hawick RFC. Carmichael charged down a drop out and returned for a score in a memorable 32-6 victory against Hawick to win the league in 1973.

Massie also says that for a prop, he was very versatile, and that in many ways, he presaged the move away from positional specialisation into a more diversified game.[3]

He is the grandson of Alec Bennett who played football for Celtic, Rangers and Scotland in the early 20th century.[5][6]

The Canterbury Incident

Carmichael is mainly remembered for being the victim of violence in the 1971 tour where he received five fractures of the cheekbone, yet still played until final whistle.[1] The match was described as an extremely violent match and often referred to as the Battle of Canterbury.[7] The referee at one point told the captains that from that moment onwards he was going to follow the ball and it was up to them to sort out anything else.

Expected to be the first choice tighthead prop for the test team, Carmichael was forced to leave the tour following the Canterbury game. His place in the test team was taken by Irishman Sean Lynch. Carmichael also went on the 1974 tour to South Africa, but did not make the test side. He was awarded an MBE in the 1977 Silver Jubilee and Birthday Honours.


  • Bath, Richard (ed.) The Complete Book of Rugby (Seven Oaks Ltd, 1997 ISBN 1-86200-013-1)
  • Massie, Allan A Portrait of Scottish Rugby (Polygon, Edinburgh; ISBN 0-904919-84-6)
  1. ^ a b c Bath, p123-4
  2. ^ Massie, p169
  3. ^ a b Massie, p171
  4. ^ Massie, pp 169-171
  5. ^ "Sandy Carmichael". Rugby World. 17 August 2016. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  6. ^ "Acknowledgements". Alec Bennett (footballer) by David Carmichael. 30 September 2010. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  7. ^ []

External links