Tributes are flooding in for Ulster, Ireland and Lions legend Jack Kyle who died peacefully in his sleep overnight on Friday, surrounded by close family members. Here are some of the warm tributes to the much-loved 88-year-old.
KYLE, peacefully at home – November 28, 2014 aged 88 years. John Wilson (Jack) dearly loved father of Caleb and Justine, brother of Betty, Brenda and Beatrice, father-in-law of Fiona and Conor, grandfather of Jack, Calum and Erin. Service of Thanksgiving on Tuesday, December 2, 2014 at 2.30pm in Fisherwick Presbyterian Church, Belfast.
Family flowers only please, donations in memory of Jack to Marie Curie Cancer Care and Northern Ireland Hospice (please make cheques payable to McClures charity account c/o McClures Funeral Service, 17 Dundrum Road, Newcastle, BT33 0BG). Will be sadly missed by all his loving family.
PRESIDENT OF IRELAND MICHAEL D HIGGINS:
Jack Kyle will be fondly remembered as one of our greatest ever rugby players and sportspeople, who played with such distinction for Ireland and the Lions. He was rightly highly respected, not just for his talent, but also for his attitude and principles as a sportsman.
He also made a significant contribution to medicine, working tirelessly for many decades as surgeon in Zambia, before returning to Ireland.
All of us enjoyed watching his return to Cardiff in 2009, where he witnessed the Irish team win the Grand Slam after a sixty-one year wait. Hopefully he was able to enjoy Ireland’s outstanding success in the three recent autumn internationals – a fitting testament to him.
FIRST MINISTER PETER ROBINSON:
I extend my heartfelt sympathies to the family and friends of Jack Kyle and my thoughts and prayers are with them at this most difficult time. Regardless of whether it was on the rugby pitch or off it, Jack was a man of immense skill and integrity. His preparation, performances and dedication helped elevate the game to the popularity it enjoys today.
He was a legend in the world of rugby and a great humanitarian. He was a great ambassador playing for Ireland, the British & Irish Lions and the Barbarians.
IRFU PRESIDENT LOUIS MAGEE:
On behalf of the IRFU and the entire rugby community in Ireland I extend our sincere condolences to the Kyle family. Jack is a true legend and gentleman of the game and he will be fondly remembered by everyone in the world of rugby.
ULSTER CAPTAIN RORY BEST:
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.
There are very few players who transcend generations like he has done, but when you look back at clips of some of the stuff he did, he was well ahead of his time. We talk about his playing achievements but he was a real gentleman as well as a rugby great.
I’ve met him a few times, particularly in 2009 when we won the Grand Slam, and he spoke so fondly of his time playing rugby. He spoke so graciously to us and you genuinely felt that he was happy to share what we’d been through because he’d done it back in 1948.
He never tried to force anything on you but he had so much knowledge to impart that you couldn’t help but listen and be engrossed by what he had to say.
There is a wonderful tribute to him in the new tunnel at Kingspan Stadium and it’s very special to have his legacy to inspire us. He was one of the greatest players to ever play the game and it’s a privilege to follow in his footsteps as an Ulster Rugby player.
IRELAND CAPTAIN PAUL O’CONNELL:
I sat between Michael Lynagh and Jack at a dinner once and the funny thing was he probably wanted to know more about me and my family and my rugby training and my career than I could ask about his.
From what I’ve heard today that’s the kind of guy he was. He seemed to have been a very humble, gracious man. I enjoyed meeting him a few times throughout my career.
My dad always spoke highly of him and he seemed to have been an incredible guy and an incredible player, a thorough gentleman. He’s a big loss to the Irish and Ulster rugby fraternity.
BELFAST ROYAL ACADEMY:
We were sad to learn of the death of Jack Kyle, an excellent ambassador for BRA, rugby, medicine and an outstanding gentleman. Thanks Jack.
QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY RFC:
Jack Kyle, one of Queen’s University Belfast’s all-time greats, has died. His work on and off the rugby field has made him a true role model for our students and players alike. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends at this time.
NED VAN ESBECK:
It’s very sad. I knew Jack very well, I knew he hadn’t been well. It’s an end of an era for me, I grew up watching him. I first saw him play for Ireland against Australia at Lansdowne Road in December 1947. My late brother Frank brought me up to the match.
He was my sporting hero. I remember writing an article in the Irish Times at the end of 1999 and I named him my all-time rugby hero and nothing has ever changed.
He was an absolutely magnificent player, he was a man of immense humility, intelligence and integrity. He was one of the players that transcends time.
I’ll remember him as a gentleman. It was a privilege to have played with him and a privilege to have known him. He was revered throughout the world of rugby football, and not just for his rugby.
(Bob) Scott, the great New Zealand full-back (who played against Kyle on the 1950 Lions tour), said that Jack was the embodiment of all that was good about rugby and all that was good about life. He was a gentleman, a Christian and a great rugby player.
He was arguably the best number 10 to put on a pair of boots. In New Zealand in 2011, I was there for the World Cup, and a lot of the old hand were still asking about him. They regarded him as the best number 10 that had ever come to New Zealand – and that was 60-odd years ago.
Jack was a tremendous man and will be sorely missed. For me, the thing I remember most was I passed his number of caps for Ireland and when I came back to the dressing room afterwards, he was the one waiting there to congratulate me.
For someone who has achieved what he has to even think about doing that really summed up what he was about. He was just a fantastic man and had a huge impact on anybody who has been association with Ulster rugby and Irish over the last number of years.
Jack inspired generations of rugby players. He passed on a huge amount of advice and encouragement to me and others and he was a wonderful person away from the world of rugby too, doing wonderful work in Zambia.
My deepest sympathies are with the family of Jack Kyle. A gentleman and one of the all-time greats of our sport.
Sad to hear about Jack Kyle, a true Belfast Royal Academy, Queen’s University, Ulster and Irish rugby legend. A gentleman.
You always heard all about him and you’d seen all the clips and to still be talking about him in such revered terms after 60 or so years really highlights what a remarkable player he was. It’s very sad but his life was so much more than just rugby.
One of the things already on my Christmas list this year is the book his daughter (Justine) has recently brought out about his remarkable achievements in medical care. It was a part of his life that is not that well known but is just as remarkable as what he achieved playing rugby.
He was a great man and his passing is really like the end of an era. His death is a great loss to Ulster and Irish rugby and I extend my deepest sympathy to all his family.
He was just a lovely, unassuming man but he had done so much that you could probably write a whole newspaper about him. Even though he was quite an age, it still is a bit of shock that he has gone.
My deepest sympathies to the family of Jack Kyle. An iconic rugby player, a great humanitarian and a wonderful gentleman.
So sorry to hear of the passing of my great friend, the legendary Jack Kyle. My thoughts are with his family.
RIP Jack Kyle. A terrific player and a proper gentleman. To meet him on our lap of honour (after the 2009 Grand Slam) was absolutely brilliant and he talked about being happy to pass on the mantle and it was a huge weight lifted off their shoulders.
We had a quick word. I’d met him a few times at different dinners over the course of 10 years so I had a bit of a rapport with him. It was lovely to share that moment and for him to be so humble about his achievements.
I think that’s the funny thing when you listen to him, it’s as if when people compliment him it’s the first compliment he’s ever been given. He was always a really gracious man and really gentlemanly.
Was great to have shared the day with Jack Kyle in Cardiff in 2009. A thorough gentleman. Deepest sympathies to his loved ones.
I never got to see John Wilson Kyle play but for anyone remotely connected with rugby on this island, the name Jackie Kyle stands apart. He united rival communities as seamlessly and as effectively as he ripped opposition defences apart. Jack Kyle was special – very, very special.
Although preceded by Eugene Davy, it’s generally recognised that Kyle lit the out-half flame that has burned for so many Irish out-halves and continues to this day through Johnny Sexton to this day.
Many have come and gone, the list too long to name, but one number 10 stands apart. Kyle is to Irish rugby what Pele was and continues still to be to football in Brazil.
While he had great respect for the modern day professional and all the game now entails he still held certain values I happen to share.
“In our day, we were trying to avoid the opposition. Nowadays, they’re deliberately running into people. It’s a much tougher game. You need to be able to take the knocks,” he said. How sadly accurate he was.
Very sad to hear of the passing of Irish rugby legend Jack Kyle. My thoughts are with his family.
Sorry to hear Jack Kyle has passed away. Only saw videos of him playing but what a player and more importantly what a gentleman. RIP.
A man who sums up all that makes rugby great. What a player and more importantly a true gent. We’ll all miss the great Jackie.
RIP Jack Kyle. One of the greatest players to have graced the game and an all round gentleman.
Terribly sad to hear that Ulster, Ireland Lions fly-half Jack Kyle has passed away. One of the all-time rugby greats.
SCOTTISH RUGBY UNION:
Sad to hear of the death of the great Ireland stand-off Jack Kyle who has passed away aged 88. RIP.
NEW ZEALAND RUGBY UNION:
Our respects to Irish rugby legend Jack Kyle, one of the gentlemen of world rugby and part of the famous 1948 Grand Slammers. RIP Jack.
BRITISH & IRISH LIONS:
Our thoughts and prayers for the family and friends of the late Jack Kyle. RIP.
BANTRY BAY RFC:
It was an amazing evening listening to his captivating memories. He was such a gentleman. Our deepest sympathies to his family.
OLD BELVEDERE RFC:
Sad to hear that the great Jack Kyle has passed away. Our thoughts go out to his family, friends and all of those at Queen’s University RFC and Belfast Harlequins RFC