THE FUNERAL has taken place of Irish rugby legend Jack Kyle who passed away at the age of 88.
A Service of Thanksgiving was held in Fisherwick Presbyterian Church in Belfast. A private burial had taken place earlier in the day. View the Funeral arrangements for Dr. Jack Kyle.
The Service was attended by leading figures from past and present in the rugby world. Former players Syd Millar, Willie John McBride and Mike Gibson were joined by a number of current international players, including Rory Best, Andrew Trimble and Tommy Bowe.
Others who attended included Dame Mary Peters and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
His grandchildren Calum, Jack and Erin left the Church carrying a number items from their grandfather’s life, including an Irish rugby jersey and cap and a stethoscope.
The former Ulster, Ireland and British and Irish Lions fly-half was regarded as being one of the greatest players in the sport’s history, not only in Ireland, where he was voted the country’s greatest ever player in 2002, but on a world stage.
He played a key role in Ireland’s first Five Nations Grand Slam in 1948 (see below). Sixty-one years later when Ireland achieved their second Grand Slam, Dr. Kyle was there to congratulate modern-day captain Brian O’Driscoll.
Today, when only black & white footage is available for fans to get a glimpse of the Kyle genius, his standing within the game remains undiminished.
Dr. John Wilson Kyle was born in Belfast in 1926. The former pupil of Belfast Royal Academy went on to study medicine at Queen’s University Belfast before working for a spell as a GP in the city, he would go on to spend more than 30 years working as a doctor in Zambia..
During his rugby career he won 46 caps with Ireland and six with the Lions. He was awarded an O.B.E. in 1959.
Tributes were paid from across the rugby world. Ulster captain Rory Best said: “I remember my father and grandfather talking about Jack Kyle and what a great player he was in his time. But for him still to be looked upon by modern-day players as a genius of the game shows what a legend he was.”
Irish President Michael D. Higgins also paid tribute who said Dr. Kyle would be remembered as one of the “greatest ever rugby players”. He added: “He was rightly highly respected, not just for his talent, but also for his attitude and principles as a sportsman.”
Former Ulster, Ireland and British Lions player David Hewitt recalled an incident during his first international game for Ireland against Australia in 1958 in which he played alongside Dr. Kyle. “Jack passed me the ball early on and I dropped it. But he just came up to me afterwards and said ‘I’m really sorry for that pass. I will try and do better the next time’.
“But of course he wasn’t at fault at all. I was that nervous that I dropped the ball. He was a remarkable character to treat me that way.”
Dr. Kyle passed away peacefully in his sleep at his home in County Down.
See footage of Jack Kyle playing in the 1948 Grand Slam..
View an excerpt from an interview with Ulster Rugby TV in which Jack Kyle reflected on the 1948 Grand Slam..
See more archive footage of Jack Kyle in action..
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