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Grand Slam hero Jimmy Nelson dies at 92

James (Jimmy) Edward Nelson OBE, one of the most significant characters in Irish rugby in the 20th century, has died peacefully at the age of 92.

A lock in the 1947-48 Irish team which won the Grand Slam, the big Malone second row played in each of that season's three Triple Crown matches, though not against the French in the series opener at Colombes on New Year's Day, 1948.

He represented Ireland on 16 occasions, playing in all four Championship matches in 1948-49 and again in 1949-50. His last appearance was against France in Paris in 1954.

He also played in the British and Irish Lions' four Tests – twice against Australia, twice against the All Blacks – in 1950.

Nelson was one of nine Irishmen to have made that year's trip, the others being captain Karl Mullen, Jack Kyle, George Norton, Michael Lane, Noel Henderson, Tom Clifford, Bill McKay and Jimmy McCarthy.

Nelson scored two of Ireland's five tries in the 24-3 rout of Australia in Sydney and followed that with one against France at Lansdowne Road the following January, helping Ireland to a 9-8 home win. Those were his only international points.

When his playing days ended, he was to become one of Irish rugby's foremost and most influential personalities. Having succeeded Tommy O'Reilly as honorary treasurer in 1976, he earned a place in history as the man who, simultaneously, held that post in tandem with the presidency of the union in 1983-84.

He managed the IRFU's money matters with notable wisdom and foresight.

He died in Nicholson House Private Nursing Home, Lisburn, on June 13 and is survived by his wife, Maureen, and step-daugther Patricia.

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