Sandy Carmichael

Sandy Carmichael
Full name Alexander Bennett Carmichael
Date of birth (1944-02-02) 2 February 1944
Height 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight 98 kg (216 lb)
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Prop
Amateur clubs
Years Club / team
West of Scotland F.C.
correct as of 15 November 2009.
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1969-1979  Scotland
British and Irish Lions
correct as of 15 November 2009.

Alexander Bennett Carmichael (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]

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. 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.

Sandy Carmichael was replaced on the 1971 Lions tour by another Scottish prop, Ian McLauchlan (The Mighty Mouse) who proceeded to make the position his own. Carmichael also went on the 1974 tour to South Africa, but did not make the test side.


  1. 1 2 3 Bath, p123-4
  2. Massie, p169
  3. 1 2 Massie, p171
  4. Massie, pp 169-171

External links

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