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Rugby stars pay tribute as legend Kyle laid to rest

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Andrew Trimble pictured at the service of thanksgiving for Irish Rugby legend Jack Kyle who passed away late last week after a short illness

Andrew Trimble pictured at the service of thanksgiving for Irish Rugby legend Jack Kyle who passed away late last week after a short illness

Rory Best at the service of thanksgiving for Irish Rugby legend Jack Kyle who passed away late last week after a short illness

Rory Best at the service of thanksgiving for Irish Rugby legend Jack Kyle who passed away late last week after a short illness

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Andrew Trimble pictured at the service of thanksgiving for Irish Rugby legend Jack Kyle who passed away late last week after a short illness

Irish rugby legends have paid tribute to the one considered the greatest of them all as they joined friends and family of the late Jack Kyle at a special thanksgiving service.

Ireland and Lions stars Willie John McBride and Mike Gibson hailed Kyle's qualities as a player and a man after attending the emotional event.

Kyle, who died last week aged 88, was once voted the best rugby player the island had ever produced, winning 46 caps for his country and six for the British and Irish Lions and inspiring Ireland to a Five Nations Grand Slam in 1948.

gentleman

The service at Fisherwick Presbyterian Church in Belfast also heard of his life and achievements off the pitch - about a man who, after hanging up his rugby boots, eschewed the prospects of a glittering medical career in the UK to work as a surgeon in Zambia for 30 years.

McBride, the captain of the 1974 Lions, said he was proud to have called Kyle a friend.

"He was one of the great men," he said. "How do you define 'gentleman'? Well, for me it is two words and those are 'Jack Kyle'. He was just one of the great men of this world."

Gibson said people would be hard-pressed to find someone who disagreed with the assessment that the jinking fly half was the finest player to ever wear the green shirt.

"I was with Jack at a dinner when he was named as the best player ever produced by Ireland and he felt embarrassed, he felt humbled by it - but that was the nature of the man," he said.

A private family funeral was held, with the wider public given an opportunity to pay their respects at the thanksgiving event in the Fisherwick church.

Present day stars Rory Best, Tommy Bowe, Andrew Trimble, Craig Gilroy and Iain Henderson were among those who attended, as did former Ireland and Lions great Syd Millar.

Kyle's son Caleb thanked all those who had sent condolences. "Over the last few days we feel we have been cradled in the arms of the people of Ireland and beyond," he said.

hnews@herald.ie


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