Rugby Europe would like to express our sadness at the passing of Māris Šmits who has been one of the pioneers of Latvian rugby.
Māris Šmits started playing rugby more than 50 years ago, in December 1971. When the opportunity arose to gather all the best Latvian rugby players into the RAF Master Team, it was he who became the team's head coach, and for the next 20 years the Jelgava club was the strongest in Latvia.
Furthermore, Šmits was the president of the RAF rugby-football club for a long time, and it was once recognised as the most popular in Latvia.
After the restoration of independence, Māris Šmits was for many years the director of the "University of Latvia" stadium and was indefatigable in his efforts to preserve the history of Latvian rugby.
He was also the manager of the first Latvian Rugby Union team that participated in 7s Rugby World Cup in 1993.
There will be a minute of silence before the match against Czechia this weekend.
Our condolences go to the family, friends of Māris Šmits.