TRIBUTES have poured in from Irish rugby royalty after legendary out-half Jack Kyle passed away yesterday aged 88.
Voted Ireland's best ever rugby player in 2002, the Ulster man won a Grand Slam, a Triple Crown and a Five Nations Championship along with 46 caps for Ireland.
Last night, a minute's silence was held in his honour at Thomond Park before the Pro 12 rugby match between Munster and Ulster with an image of Kyle beaming down from a big screen.
Ulster Rugby captain Rory Best said the fact that he is still viewed as a genius of the game by modern players is an illustration of "what a legend he was".
"There are very few players who transcend generations like he has done, but when you look back at clips of some of the stuff he did, he was well ahead of his time," he said.
The out-half also represented the British and Irish Lions on the 1950 tour to New Zealand and Australia, beating the Wallabies and drawing with the All Blacks before retiring to concentrate on his career as a doctor.
Dr Kyle worked in a humanitarian capacity as a surgeon in Indonesia before moving to Zambia where he lived from 1966 to 2000.
Brian O'Driscoll, who took a moment to share his 2009 Grand Slam lap of honour with the Down native, told NewsTalk it was "lovely to share that moment and for him to be so humble about his achievements."
"I think that is the funny thing when you are listening to him. It is as if when you compliment him, it is the first compliment he has ever been given. He was always a really gracious man, really gentlemanly and soft and by the sounds of things a pretty wicked rugby player, too," he said.
Ulster winger Tommy Bowe offered his deepest sympathies to Dr Kyle's family calling him "a gentleman and one of the all-time greats of our sport."
President Higgins added his own tribute to a man he called "one of our greatest ever rugby players and sportspeople."
He praised his work over decades as a surgeon in Zambia before returning to Ireland."
SEE SPORT, PAGE 55