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The great man's passing marks the end of an era, says Johns

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

Former Ulster and Ireland player Denis McBride had taken in the news not long before he was due to board a flight out of Dublin airport, but still took the time to pause and pay tribute to one of the greatest players the game has produced.

Indeed, Jack Kyle's death has, unsurprisingly, brought fulsome tributes from all those involved in the game here even though most would never have seen him play.

"You always heard about him and you'd seen all the clips and really, to still be talking about him in such revered terms after 60 or so years really highlights what a remarkable player he was," said McBride. "It's very sad but his life was so much more than just rugby," the former flanker added.

"One of the things already on my Christmas list this year is the book his daughter 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 while playing rugby," McBride added.

He also recalled how notable it is that the name 'Jack Kyle' had managed to resonate down through the decades and that the youthful David Humphreys was dubbed 'Jackie' in honour of the great man.

Former Ireland captain Paddy Johns recalled a "warm and kind man" when speaking of Kyle.

"He was a great man and his passing is really like the end of an era I suppose," said Johns of the legend who played such a central role in Ireland's first Grand Slam.

"His death is a great loss to Ulster and Irish rugby and I extend my deepest sympathy to all his family."

Johns' memories of the late legend are of someone who would hardly have given much away about his glorious playing past such was his modesty.

"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," said Johns (right).

"He was really such a legend of the game that I suppose you almost felt that he would always be around."

Former team-mate Syd Millar said: "It was a privilege to play alongside Jack.

"He was revered throughout the world of rugby, and off the field as well.

"Jack was a gentleman, a Christian and a great rugby player. I think that sums him up."

"Jack was, arguably, the best number 10 ever to pull on a pair of boots.

"He was a great surgeon too. And he could have had a more lucrative life as a surgeon had he stayed closer to home.

"But he spent over 30 years in Zambia, often in very rudimentary circumcances, and he told me once that a third of the people he operated on had AIDS.

"But he didn't baulk at that, and the Zambians simply revered him."

Millar said Jack could never understand the adulation for him that emanated from the world of rugby and beyond.

"As far as he was concerned, Jack was just a man who played rugby. He was always extremely modest," he added.

Daily Telegraph rugby writer Mick Cleary said Jack was a man who could charm with his affable manner, beguile with his nuanced, deceptive running and yet he remained tough and resilient.

"That's no surprise as he saved countless lives when working as a consultant surgeon for over 30 years in the copper-belt of northern Zambia." said Cleary.

"He was modest and engaging, could quote WB Yeats and Robert Frost in conversation without appearing the least bit pretentious or forced, rather like his style of play on the field, and who was without doubt the greatest of them all."

Cleary added: "Few alive will have seen him play. It matters not. The mind's eye can capture him perfectly."

Belfast Telegraph