- For other persons named Oliver Smith, see Oliver Smith
Oliver James Smith (born 14 August 1982 in Leicester) is a rugby player who plays for Montpellier Hérault RC and England usually at outside centre and occasionally inside centre or wing. He sees himself as a centre who has enough pace to deliver on the wing if required. Smith is 6'1" (1.85 m) and weighs 14 st 5l bs (91 kg). He formerly played for Leicester Tigers.
He was educated at John Cleveland College
and went on to do a PE & Sports Science degree at Loughborough University
. He started playing junior rugby union with Old Bosworthians and then joined Market Bosworth at U14 level. As a boy he attended Tigers matches with his father and had his first season ticket at Welford Road at age seven. He joined Leicester Academy in 1999 after attending a trial. He was an unused replacement aged 17 before making his Leicester debut in September 2000 against London Irish
after his 18th birthday, at the time he was the youngest player to feature in the Zurich Premiership
. His age and ability led to comparisons with former Tigers' centre Paul Dodge
who did make his debut aged 17 and was to be his mentor.
He played for England U18 ‘A’ in 1999/00 and the next season became a member of the England U19 team, progressing to the U21 side during 2001/02, then Smith gained his first cap as a replacement against Italy
. He started his first game for England in the trial against France
. However, concerns about his defensive positioning saw him fail to make the 2003 World Cup
With injuries to other centres Mike Tindall and Will Greenwood, Smith was tipped by amongst others former centre Jeremy Guscott to take his place in the 2005 Six Nations side. However, Smith was overlooked in favour of Newcastle centres of Mathew Tait and Jamie Noon. Tait, aged only 18, played poorly in his debut against Wales and was substituted by Olly Barkley who played in the remaining matches. Noon was solid, if unspectacular and retained his place. Some good performances from Smith in club games saw him come onto the bench for the games against Ireland, Italy and Scotland, gaining two more caps against Italy and Scotland.
Smith was then named to the British Lions squad for the tour of New Zealand ahead of Noon and Barkley. Shortly after this announcement, his father died.
In 2008 there was a great disappointment for Ollie because he did not get into the England squad for the mid-year tour to New Zealand.
Following a disappointing 2005/6 season, Smith went to Brisbane, Australia to train with the Brisbane Broncos
rugby league team, apparently in an effort to rediscover his form.
Smith has since regained a regular starting position in the Leicester team with many tries to his name in the 2006/07 season.
Ollie Smith openly admitted to having talks with other clubs over a move for next season. He has now signed for Montpellier after playing over 180 games for the Tigers