Tributes have been paid to Stroud rugby legend John Vincent Smith, who died last month at the age of 95.

Known as JV Smith, at the time of his death he was the oldest surviving England international.

JV scored four tries in four appearances for his country at the 1950 Five Nations, a championship record that would stand for the next 30 years.

His performance in the tournament was enough to earn him a place on that year's British Lions tour of New Zealand.

However, as he was on a special forces scholarship he was not granted permission to suspend his studies at the University of Cambridge and decided to continue with his degree rather than take the long journey to New Zealand by boat.

Still, it was miraculous he was even playing rugby at this time - having fracture his spine during a training exercise while in the Parachute Regiment.

The injury did deny JV, also an accomplished sprinter, the opportunity to compete for a place in the GB sprint team at the 1948 Olympics.

He still made an impact on the rugby pitch while at university and was involved in 'the try that nearly was' at the end 1949 Varsity match.

Celebrated sports writer Frank Keating, who started his career at the SNJ, wrote about the incident in his book Up and Under.

"The diminutive, muddied whippet dummies a pass to his winger, Gloag, and then tears through the hole in the ragged dark blue hedge, pins his ears back and scuttles off for the right corner flag, scarcely visible in the gloaming, under the North Stand.

"Half the place dare not breathe, the other half shriek encouragement. An Oxford wing-forward dives valiantly at Smith's heels; he misses.

"The full back can only hope against hope to drive him into touch, but at that precise moment, off his right foot Smith goes inside him. He's through!

"But what what's this? Where did he come from? From nowhere, all five (if you include the hyphen) of John MacGregor Kendall-Carpenter, a prop that day [a straggler from the original Oxford Oxford clearance] engulfed the little whippet a couple of ruler-lengths from the line as he turns towards the post to ensure Cambridge's winning conversion.

"I remember the newspapers the next day. It was far too dark for photographs, but the art editors had drawn lots of squiggly and dots and arrows."

JV also represented Marling School, Stroud, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, the Army, Combined Services, Rosslyn Park and the Barbarians.

While playing for London club Rosslyn Park, JV was in the team that won the Middlesex Sevens and then in 1951 played in the Rosslyn Park sevens team that won the Melrose Sevens, the first invitation side to do so.

After his playing days, eventually cut short through a shoulder injury, he became President of the RFU and managed a number of England teams - including the first England tour of Canada and the USA, and the England U-23 side to tour Spain.

Fiercely anti-apartheid, Smith strongly opposed tours to South Africa in the pre-Mandela period. He became a Liberal candidate at the 1966 General Election, and during his Presidential year at the RFU he had to deal with the alleged payment of players by Adidas in the amateur era.

JV lived most of his life in the Stroud area and gave a lifetime of support for local sport. He was a founder member of Minchinhampton RFC, helping to set up the club in 1982, represented Stroud RFC on the Gloucestershire RFU, and Gloucestershire on the Rugby Football Union. He played cricket for Stroud, Frocester and the Gloucestershire Gypsies.

He particularly loved cricket, and always regretted he never saw his great hero, Wally Hammond, bat. He cycled as a 10-year-old, over to Gloucester to watch Gloucestershire play in a county championship match at the old Waggon Works ground at Tuffley. As he arrived he heard an appeal and discovered Hammond walking back to the pavilion.

JV, who was a father of three as well a grandfather and great-grandfather, passed away at his home in Amberley on September 17.

A service of thanksgiving is being held at The Parish Church of the Holy Trinity, Amberley, on Wednesday, October 13 at 3pm followed by a reception in the Amberley Parish Room.

Everyone is welcome to attend and celebrate his life. Colourful attire. Family flowers only.