Sandy Carmichael
Birth nameAlexander Bennett Carmichael
Date of birth(1944-02-02)2 February 1944
Date of death27 October 2021(2021-10-27) (aged 77)
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 ()
Provincial / State sides
Years Team Apps (Points)
- Glasgow District
Scotland Possibles.
International career
Years Team Apps (Points)
1969–79 Scotland
British and Irish Lions

Alexander Bennett Carmichael MBE (2 February 1944 – 27 October 2021)[1] was a Scotland international rugby union player.[2][3]

Rugby Union career

Amateur career

Carmichael was a tighthead prop and part of the West of Scotland side 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.

Provincial career

He played for Glasgow District.

He played for Scotland Possibles in the trial match of 11 January 1975.[4]

International career

He earned 50 caps for Scotland from 1967 to 1978 which was a record for a Scottish player at the time.[5]

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.

Carmichael also went on the 1974 tour to South Africa, but did not make the test side.

Canterbury Incident

Carmichael was 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.[2] The match was described as an extremely violent match and often referred to as the Battle of Canterbury.[6] 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.

Carmichael had to leave the tour following the Canterbury match, as did three other players including Ray McLoughlin the loose head prop. In this one game the Lions lost both of their first choice props. The second string of Ian McLauchlan who was already in the Lions squad and Sean Lynch stepped into the breach and proved very effective; even though the Lions lost some of the options that McLoughlin and Carmichael would have given them. The Lions intended test front row, which included John Pullin of England, came together again for the Barbarians in the famous match against the All Blacks in January 1973.


He was awarded an MBE in the 1977 Silver Jubilee and Birthday Honours.

Personal life

Carmichael was the grandson of Alec Bennett who played football for Celtic, Rangers and Scotland in the early 20th century.[7][8]

He died on 27 October 2021, at the age of 77.[9]


  1. ^ Obituaries, Telegraph (29 October 2021). "Sandy Carmichael - obituary - Rugby Union - The Telegraph". The Telegraph. Retrieved 29 October 2021.
  2. ^ a b Bath, p123-4
  3. ^ Massie, p169
  4. ^ "Register". Retrieved 11 June 2023 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  5. ^ Massie, p171
  6. ^ Sport, Telegraph (10 June 2017). "Battle of Canterbury 1971: The truth behind the dirtiest match in Lions history". The Telegraph.(subscription required)
  7. ^ "Sandy Carmichael". Rugby World. 17 August 2016. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  8. ^ "Acknowledgements". Alec Bennett (footballer) by David Carmichael. 30 September 2010. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  9. ^ Sandy Carmichael, former Scotland, Lions and Barbarians prop, dies aged 77, The Daily Telegraph, 27 October 2021 (subscription required)
  • 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)