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Jack Kyle was true gentleman, on and off the rugby pitch

Editor's Viewpoint

The death of Dr Jack Kyle marks the last chapter in the life of a sports hero, a dedicated doctor, and a remarkable man.

High praise is handed out almost routinely today to professional sporting stars, but Jack Kyle belonged to the era of the amateur.

He was one of the greatest gifted rugby players of his generation, and his record speaks for itself.

He was a magnificent out-half who won his first cap as a Queen's University student when he played against France in 1947.

In subsequent years he was a member of an Irish squad that won many honours, including the Five Nations Grand Slam in 1948, a Triple Crown in 1949, and a championship in 1951.

His personal record was equally outstanding. He won 46 caps for Ireland as well as six for the British and Irish Lions, and he played in 19 tour matches.

He was on every rugby fan's list of the top players of all-time, and fittingly, in an Irish Rugby Football Union poll in 2002, he was named as the greatest ever Irish player.

It was also fitting that Dr Kyle was in Cardiff in 2009 when Ireland gained only their second Grand Slam after an agonising wait of 61 years.

However great his enduring fame on the sports field, Jack Kyle won admiration throughout the rugby world and much further afield for his selfless work as a doctor in Zambia.

Based in Chingola, he saved countless lives and relieved the suffering of many others, as well as providing hope and practical help to people in that part of Africa.

He worked there with unstinting energy, and in so doing he demonstrated the highest calling of his profession.

Despite his successes, he also experienced the pain of divorce from his wife Shirley, and in recent years he suffered from a debilitating illness which he bore with great dignity.

Above all, Jack Kyle was modest and self-effacing, and also a true gentleman who won the respect of everyone on and off the sports field.

He will be sadly missed.

Belfast Telegraph

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