Jack Kyle

Jack Kyle

One tour, 6 Tests, 1950

One tour, 6 Tests, 1950

(1950: 6 Tests)

Jack Kyle was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 1999, was named the Greatest Ever Irish Rugby Player by the Irish Rugby Football Union in 2002 and in 2008 he was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame. There are some judges in New Zealand and Australia who would rate him the Lions' greatest as well. In 1950, the 24-year-old Kyle was at his peak and a sufficiently complete all-round footballer to be named alongside team-mate Ken Jones among New Zealand Rugby Almanac's six players of the year.

The Belfast-born stand-off was an elusive runner, electric over 20 yards and possessing both a side-step and body swerve that left opponents flailing at thin air in his wake. He was also a fine judge of a kick and a better tackler than he gave himself credit for.

That combination of speed and skill had earned Ireland their only Grand Slam in 1948 and gave him celebrity status in New Zealand two years later. Kyle thrived in the company of the likes of Jack Matthews and Bleddyn Williams in the centres, returning the compliment with the time and space in which his habit of playing on the gain-line gave those outside him.
Perhaps his finest display came in the first Test, which the Lions drew 9-9 before narrowly losing the final three. Of the Lions' nine points, Kyle scored three himself with an exhilarating try and had a hand in all the others.

The Queen's University man created a try for Jones with an accurate punt that proved too cute for the great All Blacks full-back Bob Scott to deal with and also put in the long kick that yielded a penalty converted by John Robins.

Kyle's own try saw him counter-attack from a miscued kick, slicing through the New Zealand rearguard, swerving past Scott and having sufficient strength to shrug off a desperate cover tackle and cross the line. He also scored a try in the 24-3 defeat of Australia in the second leg of that tour to confirm the reputation he had already earned in front of the toughest rugby judges of all.

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