Born: February 2, 1944;

Died: October 27, 2021.

SANDY Carmichael, who has died aged 77, was one of Scottish rugby’s all-time greats, an outstanding prop forward on the pitch and off it, and an excellent ambassador for rugby.

He was a forerunner of the modern-day prop – mobile, a strong scrummager with good hands, and an effective tackler, blessed with an equable temperament.

His reputation for technically accomplished and robust but fair play in a highly confrontational position earned worldwide respect and admiration while his adherence to and promotion of rugby’s core values in developing discipline, teamwork and friendship enhanced the sport.

An extremely popular individual, he had time for everyone and was highly regarded in all walks of life.

Sandy enjoyed an honour-laden career. Between 1967 and 1978 he was the first Scot to earn 50 caps, all but one consecutively, a world record for an international prop until 1986.

That tally included the rare distinction of being in a winning side six times against England, including twice in one week in 1971, in addition to four non-cap internationals, three against Argentina and another against Tonga. Despite being a virtual automatic selection for Scotland he maintained it was “always a thrill to see my name in the team”.

He toured twice with the British and Irish Lions, in 1971 to New Zealand and in 1974 to South Africa, playing 16 games altogether. Had it not been for the notorious assault he suffered in the 1971 tour against Canterbury, which left him with cheekbone fractures shortly before the first Test and ended his tour, he would undoubtedly have featured in that Test and probably others.

For Barbarians he made a total of 20 appearances, which included two matches against Australia and the memorable 1973 Cardiff game against New Zealand, one of the best matches ever witnessed. He also toured North America with them.

With Scotland he went on three tours, to Argentina in 1969, Australia in 1970 and New Zealand in 1975, when he played in the “water polo” Test in Auckland, so-called as excessive rainfall resulted in the game being played in near aquatic conditions. Afterwards he said: “I was worried because I can’t swim very well!”

In 1977 as well as being appointed MBE, he was the only Scot selected in a World squad of 24 players from 10 nations to play two commemorative games in South Africa.

Domestically, he represented West of Scotland with distinction from 1962 to 1978, and Glasgow District from 1964 onwards. As part of a formidable West side, he was in the team that twice won the unofficial Scottish Championship.

Appropriately, he was in the first tranche of inductees to Scottish Rugby’s Hall of Fame in 2010, his citation describing him as “one of the bravest and fairest players to grace the game”.

Alexander Bennett Carmichael was the middle son of David and Jessie. He and his brothers David and Peter were brought up in Newton Mearns. David Snr was an accountant and councillor after whom the Carmichael Hall in Eastwood was named, while Sandy’s maternal grandfather, Alec Bennett, played football for both Celtic and Rangers and won 11 caps for Scotland.

After Belmont prep school, Sandy went to Loretto School in Musselburgh where, as well as being 2nd Head of School, his sporting talents emerged. He played in the first XV for two years, captaining the team in his final year after converting to the front row.

A teacher presciently noted in the school magazine: “Carmichael has proved to have the qualities necessary for the front row… he is a tiger in the loose.” In 1962, he was selected for the Scottish Schoolboys’ XV for a match against England but bad weather caused its cancellation.

He also shone at hockey, trialling for Scottish Schoolboys, while in summer he excelled at athletics and captained the school team. His main event was shot putt, in which he set a school record and won bronze medals in Scottish Schools and Junior Championships.

In 1967 he won a debut cap against Ireland as a late replacement for the injured David Rollo, much to the surprise of his family in the stand. A long and distinguished career encompassed many highlights including wins against Australia, South Africa and in 1969 against France in Paris, Scotland’s last victory there until 1995.

After retiring from playing he coached West of Scotland for some years and helped promote women’s rugby through coaching the West side and assisting the national team.

A hereditary spinal arthritic condition exacerbated by rugby’s physical demands led to serious health issues for Carmichael, who underwent numerous complicated hip operations as well as heart bypass surgery, causing him significant mobility problems. Despite suffering considerable pain and discomfort, he remained positive and upbeat, always insisting that he had no regrets.

In business he was involved in plant hire, setting up his own company and latterly working with Speedy Hire.

In 1970 he married Avril Wallace with whom he had Trevor and Melanie but the marriage ended in divorce. In 1993 he got married again, to Alison Brand, whom he had met through rugby and with whom he had two children, Ruairidh and Rhona. The family lived in Kilbarchan, where Sandy was a much-loved and well-known figure in the local community.

Outwith family life, he was a highly appreciated contributor to Rugby Memories, a dementia charity, and followed all sports keenly. He is survived by his wife, children and four grandchildren.