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Just being on the same pitch was an honour: Williams

In Pictures: Irish rugby legend Jack Kyle Close

Forties heyday: Jack Kyle

Forties heyday: Jack Kyle

Jack Kyle

Jack Kyle

Irish rugby legend Jack Kyle

Irish rugby legend Jack Kyle

RBS Six Nations 21/3/2009
Ireland
Brian O'Driscoll celebrates with Jack Kyle after the game
Mandatory Credit ?INPHO/Morgan Treacy *** Local Caption ***

RBS Six Nations 21/3/2009 Ireland Brian O'Driscoll celebrates with Jack Kyle after the game Mandatory Credit ?INPHO/Morgan Treacy *** Local Caption ***

?INPHO/Morgan Treacy

A fun moment in January 2006 at Parliament Buildings, when Rugby Legends Jack Kyle and Willie John McBride ,joined Allen Gibson, then the Chairman of the UK and Ulster Rugby Charity "Wooden Spoon". The occasion was Jack's 80th Birthday lunch in the members dining room, Stormont with Irish rugby VIP's. Picture Stanley Matchett.

A fun moment in January 2006 at Parliament Buildings, when Rugby Legends Jack Kyle and Willie John McBride ,joined Allen Gibson, then the Chairman of the UK and Ulster Rugby Charity "Wooden Spoon". The occasion was Jack's 80th Birthday lunch in the members dining room, Stormont with Irish rugby VIP's. Picture Stanley Matchett.

Pacemaker Press International Belfast 13/8/2008. The surviving members of the 1948 grand slam winning Ireland side after a question and answer session at the Europa hotel this afternoon. Included are, Jim McCarthy, Jack Kyle, Jimmy Nelson, Karl Mullen, Paddy Reid, Bertie OHanlon and Michael OFlanagan . Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

Pacemaker Press International Belfast 13/8/2008. The surviving members of the 1948 grand slam winning Ireland side after a question and answer session at the Europa hotel this afternoon. Included are, Jim McCarthy, Jack Kyle, Jimmy Nelson, Karl Mullen, Paddy Reid, Bertie OHanlon and Michael OFlanagan . Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

Guinness PRO12, Thomond Park, Co. Limerick 28/11/2014
Munster vs Ulster
Ulster players show their respects to Jack Kyle who passed away today 
Mandatory Credit ?INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Guinness PRO12, Thomond Park, Co. Limerick 28/11/2014 Munster vs Ulster Ulster players show their respects to Jack Kyle who passed away today Mandatory Credit ?INPHO/Ryan Byrne

?INPHO/Ryan Byrne

RBS Six Nations, Millenium Stadium, Cardiff 21/3/2009
Wales vs Ireland
Jack Kyle
Mandatory Credit INPHO/Dan Sheridan *** Local Caption ***

RBS Six Nations, Millenium Stadium, Cardiff 21/3/2009 Wales vs Ireland Jack Kyle Mandatory Credit INPHO/Dan Sheridan *** Local Caption ***

Legendary half fly Jack Kyle, 83, at his Co Down, Northern Ireland home. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 19, 2009. Among the thousands of rugby fans descending on Cardiff this weekend is one who has waited longer than most for Ireland to clinch a second grand slam. Jack Kyle, who led the men in green to their only clean sweep in 1948, will be in the Millennium Stadium on Saturday hoping the current generation can finally emulate that achievement. See PA story SPORT Rugby Ireland. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire

Legendary half fly Jack Kyle, 83, at his Co Down, Northern Ireland home. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 19, 2009. Among the thousands of rugby fans descending on Cardiff this weekend is one who has waited longer than most for Ireland to clinch a second grand slam. Jack Kyle, who led the men in green to their only clean sweep in 1948, will be in the Millennium Stadium on Saturday hoping the current generation can finally emulate that achievement. See PA story SPORT Rugby Ireland. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire

Rugby legends Jack Kyle and Willie John McBride holding up their Ulster Rugby Jerseys ahead of the Ulster match against the Dragons at Ravenhill.

Rugby legends Jack Kyle and Willie John McBride holding up their Ulster Rugby Jerseys ahead of the Ulster match against the Dragons at Ravenhill.

Jack Kyle

Jack Kyle

Local hero: Jack Kyle gets a standing ovation during a visit to Ravenhill last February. He was always a popular visitor to the stadium he once graced as a player

Local hero: Jack Kyle gets a standing ovation during a visit to Ravenhill last February. He was always a popular visitor to the stadium he once graced as a player

?INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Ralph Spearman (left) with Irish rugby  legend Jack Kyle

Ralph Spearman (left) with Irish rugby legend Jack Kyle

Legendary half fly Jack Kyle, at his Co Down, Northern Ireland home

Legendary half fly Jack Kyle, at his Co Down, Northern Ireland home

Watch him go: the late, great Jack Kyle sets off on one of his trademark mazy runs

Watch him go: the late, great Jack Kyle sets off on one of his trademark mazy runs

Special guest: Jack Kyle, seen here with Mike Gibson, was a great supporter of the Belfast Telegraph Sports awards

Special guest: Jack Kyle, seen here with Mike Gibson, was a great supporter of the Belfast Telegraph Sports awards

The Ulster team observe a minutes silence in memory of Jack Kyle and David McCormick. Guinness PRO12, Thomond Park, Co. Limerick. INPHO/James Crombie.

The Ulster team observe a minutes silence in memory of Jack Kyle and David McCormick. Guinness PRO12, Thomond Park, Co. Limerick. INPHO/James Crombie.

?INPHO/James Crombie

Jack Kyle in his heyday

Jack Kyle in his heyday

Jack Kyle

Jack Kyle

Jack Kyle at his home

Jack Kyle at his home

Brian O'Driscoll celebrates with Jack Kyle after a game

Brian O'Driscoll celebrates with Jack Kyle after a game

?INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Green giant: Jack Kyle’s love affair with rugby never ended

Green giant: Jack Kyle’s love affair with rugby never ended

Silent tribute: Ulster players line up to remember Jack Kyle before last night’s match at Thomond Park

Silent tribute: Ulster players line up to remember Jack Kyle before last night’s match at Thomond Park

?INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Ulster rugby stalwart Bryn Cunningham took the Special Award, handed over by legend Jack Kyle.

Ulster rugby stalwart Bryn Cunningham took the Special Award, handed over by legend Jack Kyle.

Ireland legends Jack Kyle (left) and Jimmy Nelson read the match programme from the famous 6-3 victory over Wales in 1948 at Ravenhill which clinched the Grand Slam

Ireland legends Jack Kyle (left) and Jimmy Nelson read the match programme from the famous 6-3 victory over Wales in 1948 at Ravenhill which clinched the Grand Slam

Alan Moneypenny, Jack Kyle and Rory Best. 2011 Linwoods and Sport Northern Ireland Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards at the Ramada Hotel, Belfast.

Alan Moneypenny, Jack Kyle and Rory Best. 2011 Linwoods and Sport Northern Ireland Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards at the Ramada Hotel, Belfast.

Forties heyday: Jack Kyle

Ulster's European Cup winning coach Harry Williams has the distinction of actually having played against Jack Kyle when the latter's playing days were drawing to a close in the early 1960s.

Back then it was not entirely unusual for school teams to take on adult sides which is how Williams, then at Sullivan Upper, came to take the field in opposition to the Grand Slam winner and Lions player.

Needless to say it was an occasion that Williams has never forgotten and took place just before Kyle departed overseas in his medical career, as the former coach recounts with fondness.

"I was still at school when I actually played against him as he was right at the end of his career.

"It was Sullivan first XV against the then North (of Ireland) Wednesday team and I think it was just before he went to Zambia," Williams recalls.

"Playing against him that day I remember absolutely made everyone's day and at that stage was definitely the highlight of my career."

As for any opportunity of felling the legendary player or putting him under pressure, Williams laughs at the memory of a bunch of overeager schoolboys being shown the ropes by a man who was still masterful in his play.

"He was at out-half and even then we still just couldn't get near him. I played number seven and just couldn't touch him, even then."

Williams goes on to try and explain what Kyle meant to all those who played rugby and, essentially, the legend was created pure and simply through how he played the game.

"'Jack Kyle' is one of those names that will stick in the mind forever and he was a true gentleman," says Williams of a man whose humility was always central to his personality.

"It's really amazing that someone from that time made such an impact on world rugby and he is even still revered in New Zealand where he was on a Lions tour.

"I think his impact is greater than any other player I've ever known," said Williams.

He also brings up the famous picture taken in the immediate aftermath of Ireland's 2009 Grand Slam success, when Kyle is seen shaking hands with Brian O'Driscoll, as epitomising just what the older man meant to those who followed him playing the game at the highest level.

"I just love that image from 2009 when Brian O'Driscoll met him just after winning the Slam," Williams adds.

"O'Driscoll just had so much respect and so much reverence for him. That was magical."

"He was a lovely man and the footage of him playing, like when he scored a tremendous try against France at Ravenhill, is just an amazing thing to see."

Belfast Telegraph