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Tributes as rugby legend Jack Kyle dies aged 88

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

The family of Jack Kyle last night said they were "humbled by the genuine warmth and affection" shown by so many people after the Irish rugby great passed away.

Stars past and present, in addition to commentators and analysts, politicians and friends, were among those to honour the Grand Slam-winning Belfast man who was remembered for his humanitarian exploits off the field, as well as his on-field heroics.

He died peacefully in his sleep at his Co Down home on Thursday night, surrounded by his family.

Kyle's son Caleb last night said the outpouring of grief over the 88-year-old's death has been a "great comfort to the family".

He added it was very important that his father's work overseas as a doctor was remembered.

"It's something he was very proud of and something he would want to be remembered for. It was very important to him and he did it for many years knowing there had to be a life outside rugby."

Broadcaster Tom McGurk also recalled his work on the missions.

"He wasn't only a wonderful rugby player, he was a wonderful person. He spent nearly 40 years working on the missions. He could have stayed behind and earned a tidy sum, as he was an excellent doctor and specialist. He devoted a huge part of his life out in Africa to those who needed him most."

Kyle was a key member of the Ireland team that claimed the country's first Five Nations Grand Slam in 1948 and also won six caps for the Lions in a star-studded career.

In 2002 he was voted Ireland's greatest ever player and is considered one of the finest out-halves to ever play the game.

Another out-half Ronan O'Gara described him as "a thorough gentleman".

Brian O'Driscoll recalled the moment he spoke with Kyle just after Ireland won the Grand Slam in 2009: "I had a bit of a rapport with him. It was lovely to share that moment." Former Ireland head coach Eddie O'Sullivan said he was "an iconic rugby player, a great humanitarian and a wonderful gentleman".

IRFU president Louis Magee said the rugby world was in mourning for a legend, and the Republic's Sports Minister Michael Ring said Kyle "left a lasting legacy which would never be forgotten".

Touching tributes were also paid by those who came up against Kyle, including the New Zealand Rugby Union.

There was also a minute's silence at last night's Munster and Ulster clash in his honour.

Ulster captain and Ireland hooker Rory Best said: "I remember my father and grandfather talking about Jack Kyle and what a great player he was in his time. But for him still to be looked upon by modern-day players as a genius of the game shows what a legend he was."

Belfast Telegraph