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Former Ireland rugby international Gary Halpin has passed away, aged 55

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Gary Halpin in action for Leinster during a Guinness Interprovincial Championship match against Munster at Donnybrook Stadium back in November 2000. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Gary Halpin in action for Leinster during a Guinness Interprovincial Championship match against Munster at Donnybrook Stadium back in November 2000. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Gary Halpin in action for Leinster during a Guinness Interprovincial Championship match against Munster at Donnybrook Stadium back in November 2000. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Former Ireland rugby international Gary Halpin has died suddenly at the age of 55.

The Kilkenny native played 11 times for his country between 1990 and 1995, while he also represented Ireland at the 1987 World Athletics Championships in the hammer.

Halpin worked as the Head of Boarding at Cistercian College, Roscrea, having played for Leinster, London Irish and Harlequins during his playing career.

The school paid tribute to its employee today, with a post on Twitter that read: "The College community of staff, students, parents and monks were devastated this morning on hearing of the sudden death of our much loved colleague and friend Gary Halpin RIP. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis."

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Gary Halpin sings the Irish anthem before the Rugby World Cup game against New Zealand in 1995

Gary Halpin sings the Irish anthem before the Rugby World Cup game against New Zealand in 1995

Gary Halpin sings the Irish anthem before the Rugby World Cup game against New Zealand in 1995

He made his international debut against England in Twickenham in 1990 and famously scored a try in the pool defeat to New Zealand at the 1995 World Cup. More infamously, he gave the All Blacks the finger as a celebration.

Speaking to The Sunday Times in 2019, Halpin said he regretted the incident.

"Bigger picture, there are worse things you can do in life," says Halpin.

"But it was a really stupid thing to do. It wasn’t a conscious thing. There was a frustration there. (Sean) Fitzpatrick is a bit of a wind-up merchant and you don’t get too many chances to stab the dragon, y’know?" he said.

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"He had said a few things about us which were disrespectful, about how the Irish are always full of fire and passion to begin with, and then they run out of gas. Thing is, he was probably right!"

Former Ireland hooker Jerry Flannery paid tribute to the ex-prop.

"Gary Halpin RIP," he wrote on Twitter. "One of my favourite players when I was a kid. You need to be a bit mental to give the @AllBlacks the finger after scoring a try. Ballsy"


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