Jack Kyle

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Jack Kyle
Full name John Wilson Kyle
Date of birth (1926-01-10) 10 January 1926 (age 88)
Place of birth Belfast
Northern Ireland
School Belfast Royal Academy
University Queen's University, Belfast
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Fly-half
Professional / senior clubs
Years Club / team Caps (points)
Queen's University
North of Ireland
Provincial/State sides
Years Club / team Caps (points)
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
British Lions

John Wilson Kyle OBE (born 10 January 1926, Belfast, Northern Ireland), commonly referred to as Jack Kyle or Jackie Kyle, is a former rugby union player who played for Ireland, the British Lions and the Barbarians[2] during the 1940s and 1950s. In 1950, Kyle was declared one of the six players of the year by the New Zealand Rugby Almanac,[3] in 1999, he was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame,[4] in 2002, he was named the Greatest Ever Irish Rugby Player by the Irish Rugby Football Union,[5][dead link] and in 2008, he was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame.[6]

Kyle was educated at Belfast Royal Academy and studied medicine at Queen's University, Belfast.[7][dead link] He graduated in 1951 and in 1991, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University.[8][dead link] In 2007, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Irish Journal of Medical Science and the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland.[9] He has also been awarded an OBE.[citation needed]

Rugby international[edit]


Kyle first played for Ireland during the Second World War in a friendly against a British Army XV. However, no caps were awarded.[10] Between 1947 and 1958, while playing for Ireland, he went onto make 46 full appearances and score 24 points, including 7 tries.[11][dead link] The highlight of his Ireland career came during the 1948 Five Nations Championship when, together with Karl Mullen and Mick O'Flanagan, he helped Ireland win a grand slam.[12] Kyle played in all four games and he is often credited with masterminding Ireland's success.[13] In 1949, he also helped Ireland win the Triple Crown and in 1951, they won the title again. Kyle made his last appearance for Ireland against Scotland on 1 March, 1958. Following a solo try against France at Ravenhill in 1953, an impressed newspaper journalist parodied The Scarlet Pimpernel with the lines:

They seek him here, they seek him there
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere.
That paragon of pace and guile,
That demned elusive Jackie Kyle.

British and Irish Lions[edit]

In 1950, Kyle also played for the British Lions on their tour to New Zealand and Australia. He played in 20 of the 29 games, including all six Tests. Among his tour highlights was a display that came in the first Test, a 9–9 draw with New Zealand. Of the Lions' nine points, Kyle scored a try, created another for Ken Jones and won a penalty that was converted by John Robins. During the tour, he also scored a try in the 24–3 defeat of Australia.[3][4]

Later years[edit]

After retiring from club rugby in 1963, Kyle embarked on humanitarian work in Sumatra and Indonesia. Between 1966 and 2000, he worked as a consultant surgeon in Chingola, Zambia. He then returned to Northern Ireland and settled in County Down. He remained involved in rugby and in 2001, established the The Jack Kyle Bursary Fund in support of the Queen's University RFC Rugby Academy.[9] [14][15]