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'Jack Kyle was wonderful player and a wonderful person'

Tom McGurk has paid tribute to Jack Kyle, describing the Irish rugby legend as a "absolute gentleman" and an inspiration in Irish rugby.

The former Ulster, Ireland and British and Irish Lions fly-half passed away last night aged 88 tributes have been pouring in for a key member of the Ireland team that claimed the country's first-ever Five Nations Grand Slam in 1948.

Belfast-born Kyle won 46 caps for Ireland and six for the Lions and was part of the historic 1948 winning team. In 2002 Kyle was voted Ireland's greatest-ever player, underlining his standing alongside the likes of Brian O'Driscoll and Willie John McBride as the country's most-celebrated rugby stars.

Speaking on RTE's Radio One today, rugby broadcaster Tom McGurk praised Kyle for his achievements both on and off the pitch, highlighting his work in Zambia during missions work as a doctor.

"He wasn't only a wonderful rugby player, he was a wonderful person," McGurk told Sean O'Rourke today.

"He spent nearly 40 years working on the missions. He could have stayed behind and earned a tidy sum as he was an excellent doctor and specialist. He devoted a huge part of his life out in Africa to those who needed most."

"He was a quite remarkable person."

Widely acknowledged as one of the greatest rugby players of any generation after success with both Ireland and the Lions, McGurk added that the out-half always had a touch of class to his game.

"If the 10 is the leader of the orchestra, he was the conductor," he enthused.

"When you look back at that old stuff of Kyle, floating, breaking and cutting on the outside, he was fantastic."

McGurk added that Kyle led the way for a future crop of outstanding Irish out-halves such as Ollie Campbell, Tony Ward to Johnny Sexton of the present day, describing him as an "inspiration" at out-half.

"He was an absolutely wonderful gentleman."

Sports Minister Michael Ring expressed his sincerest condolences following the sad passing of the Irish rugby legend.

"It was with great sadness that I learned of Jack's passing today. He was an outstanding fly-half, exceptional leader, an icon of the game and above all a true gentlemaN," he said.

“Kyle represented his country on 46 occasions, captained Ireland to our first Grand Slam success in 1948 and led the team to two Triple Crown victories in 1949 and 1951. A former British & Irish Lion, Jack Kyle embodied the spirit of true sportsmanship and how the game of rugby should be played.

“His legacy to Irish rugby will be ever-lasting and he will be truly missed."

Online Editors