An excellent rugby union forward, Patrick Attwood Smith switched codes and was one of New Zealand’s most prominent rugby league players in the immediate post-World War II period. A talented all-round sportsman at St Bede’s College, Smith represented Otago, Wellington and Canterbury in union, while his club rugby league journey began with Addington and Hornby before playing an integral role in the formation of the Prebbleton club in 1947, steering it to a historic premiership win two years later.
The Leeston-born hooker/prop boasts the unique honour of having captained New Zealand in all 10 of his Test appearances and 36 matches overall from 1947-49, leading the Kiwis to victories over Great Britain, France and Australia.
Smith represented Canterbury from 1943 and South Island the following season and was an unused reserve forward during New Zealand’s one-off Test against Great Britain in 1946 – the Kiwis’ first against any nation in nine years.
Despite not yet being a fully-fledged Kiwi, the 31-year-old was chosen to captain the 1947-48 squad to tour Britain and France. Smith played in 28 of the 35 matches (the most of any tourists), including all six Tests: a 2-1 series loss to Great Britain, a one-off win over Wales and a drawn two-match series against France, the first between the nations.
The front-row enforcer led the Kiwis to Australia in 1948 and skippered his country against the visiting green-and-golds in 1949, with both two-match series finishing one win apiece.
Smith’s monumental contribution to rugby league continued after his retirement as a player. He was a founder of the Marist club and president from 1960-66, coached Papanui and Marist, was a selector for Canterbury and South Island, and served as CRL president in 1967.
The Pat Smith Trophy has been Canterbury Rugby League’s ultimate prize for more than half a century, awarded to the winning side in each year’s Grand Final since a playoffs system replaced the first-past-the-post format to decide the premiership in 1967.
Smith, who passed away in 1981, was inducted as a New Zealand Legend of League in 2009, while his enormous local legacy lives on with the premiership-winning captain hoisting the trophy bearing his name every season.
NEW ZEALAND (1947-49)
10 Tests – 0 points
26 tour matches – 3 tries (9 points)
-1947-48 Kiwis tour of Britain and France
-1948 Kiwis tour of Australia