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Jack Kyle dies aged 88: Tributes flood in for Belfast-born Ireland and Ulster rugby legend

Ireland and Ulster rugby legend Jack Kyle has died at the age of 88.

The Belfast man - regarded as one of Ireland's best ever rugby players - was a talented fly-half who won 46 caps for Ireland and six for the British and Irish Lions.

The former Ulster, Ireland and British and Irish Lions fly-half passed away on Thursday night.

"Jack died peacefully in his sleep at home last night, surrounded by close family members," his family said in a statement.

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 Ireland's most-celebrated rugby stars.

Kyle spent more than 30 years working as a consultant surgeon in Chingola, Zambia, at the end of his playing career.

Following his retirement Kyle returned to Northern Ireland, living in Bryansford near Newcastle, County Down.

Awarded the OBE in 1959, Kyle forged a formidable reputation as a playmaker of both substance and style.

In a poll organised by the Irish Rugby Football Union in 2002, Kyle was voted the country's best player of all time.

Born in Belfast in 1926, Kyle read medicine at Queen's University, making his Ireland debut against the British Army in a friendly during the Second World War.

Kyle played in all four matches of Ireland's 1948 Grand Slam triumph, the achievement heightened by the country's 61-year wait for a repeat.

When O'Driscoll led Ireland to their 2009 Grand Slam in Cardiff, Kyle was on hand to witness the success.

While also helping Ireland to Five Nations titles in 1949 and 1951, Kyle won his six Test caps for the Lions on the 1950 tour of Australia and New Zealand.

Kyle first played for Ireland during the Second World War in a friendly match against a British Army team.

He made 46 full appearances for Ireland between 1947 and 1958, scoring 24 points, including seven tries.

Tributes flow in for Irish rugby legend

Tribute has begun to flow in for Jack Kyle, the Belfast born Irish rugby legend, who has died aged 88.

Tweeting today, Ulster Rugby said: RIP Jack Kyle. One of the greatest players to have ever represented Ulster, Ireland and the British Irish Lions.

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