In memory of Syd Millar: 1934 – 2023

British & Irish Lions legend Syd Millar has passed away at the age of 89. [more]

In memory of Syd Millar: 1934 – 2023

British & Irish Lions legend Syd Millar has passed away at the age of 89.

Syd was one of the most significant figures in Lions history, featuring on nine Tours across six decades as a player, coach and manager.

Across his entire career, as a player and subsequently as an administrator, he will be remembered as someone who gave a great deal to the Lions and to the sport.

The Ballymena-born prop started out as a fly-half and never relinquished the handling skills which added an extra dimension to his game in the loose.

Millar played 37 times for Ireland, winning his first cap in 1958 and won selection for the Lions Tour of the following year to Australia and New Zealand.

Despite being a tight-head prop by preference, Millar packed down at loosehead during the 1959 and 1962 Tours and was the most-used prop on the latter, playing in 16 of the 24 and matches.

He toured for the final time as a player in 1966, adding to the last of his 39 Lions appearances in which he scored three tries.

He continued to serve the Lions with distinction off the field as a coach for the ‘Invincibles’ tour of 1974 and then as Tour Manager six years later when the Springboks gained revenge.

On top of that he was also a member of the Lions committee in 1993 and 1997, a selector in 1977 and chair at the time of the 2001 Tour to Australia.

Millar’s influence and wisdom extended far beyond the Lions when serving as president of Ulster Rugby Union, and subsequently president and chairman of the IRFU.

Then, in 2009, fifty years on from his maiden Lions Tour, Millar was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame.

“The end of an era”

Speaking to the BBC following the news of Syd’s passing, the great Willie John McBridge commented: “It’s the end of an era.

“It’s a big knock to rugby football worldwide because he was known right across the world. His knowledge of rugby was absolutely tremendous.

“Not only did he play right through to the top but he was also a top administrator and ended up as chairman of World Rugby, a tremendous achievement. He was very good at administration.”

The thoughts of everyone at The British & Irish Lions are with Syd’s family and friends.

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