POPULAR York rugby league player Peter Smith has died aged 65.

A stalwart of York's 'A' team for over a decade, Smith made 47 first-team appearances and five as a substitute, scoring nine tries. He was part of the side that lifted the Yorkshire ‘A’ Team Cup during his time at Clarence Street.

He passed away a week after his 65th birthday following a battle with cancer.

His sister, Gail Errity, said: "He was the apple of his mother's eye and his father was extremely proud of him, especially when he went to play rugby. He loved his rugby.

"He was always very well-dressed, he was very well liked, he had lots of friends and was very respected.

"He started as a mechanic and worked his way up as an engineer on the railway.

"We're all very, very proud of him."

Smith made the first of his York first-team appearances on November 13, 1977 and his last on April 8, 1985.

He featured considerably more in that time for the second string, playing on the wing or in the centres, with his first-team opportunities limited by the likes of David Barrends and Terry Morgan.

He was at York when they reached the 1979 Yorkshire Cup final, played in the top tier of English rugby league in 1979/80 and 1981/82 and won the old Division Two title in 1980/81.

He had started playing rugby for York Boys at school age when he attended Acomb Secondary Modern, and went on to play at amateur level for Heworth Under-19s, White Rose and York Albion, with whom he won a national seven-a-side competition.

When sister Gail ran the Bay Horse pub in Gillygate, Smith worked on the doors. "He was a bit of a celebrity,” she said.

Outside of his rugby life, Smith enjoyed travelling, often going to America to visit a childhood friend, as well as Germany.

His funeral will be at York Crematorium on Tuesday, February 26, starting at 1pm, with the wake at York Acorn Rugby Club from 2pm.