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World Rugby Classic mourns death of former player Tom Kiernan

Tom Kiernan (Photo Getty Images)

Tributes have been paid to one of the first international players to showcase their skills in the World Rugby Classic in Bermuda.

Tom Kiernan, the former captain of Ireland and the Lions, has died in Ireland.

He was the first of many international rugby players to come to Bermuda in 1972 when he played in the Easter Classic, which featured a Bermuda-Irish team against a Bermuda team.

The late full-back played 54 times for Ireland, a record at the time, from 1960 to 1973. He captained Ireland on 24 occasions and retired as his country’s most capped player and leading scorer with 158 points.

He also kicked the winning score the first time Ireland beat South Africa in 1965 and captained the first Irish team to win a Test in Australia two years later during an illustrious 13-year international career.

Kiernan also played on two Lions tours, once as captain, and was coach of Munster in the famous victory over the All Blacks in 1978.

John Kane, the World Rugby Classic president, also played in the 1972 Easter Classic and recalls the extraordinary experience it was at the time, to have an international player of Kiernan’s stature involved in the event.

“We didn’t know then that he would be the first of so many famous players who would travel to Bermuda, initially for the Easter Classic (1972-1994) and then the World Rugby Classic from 1988,” Kane told The Royal Gazette.

“His 1972 visit was a memorable event. He wasn’t able to prevent the Irish team losing 20-9, but that didn’t spoil the party.”

After retiring from coaching, Kiernan served in various administrative roles, including chairman of the Five Nations, president of the IRFU, honorary treasurer of the International Rugby Board (now World Rugby) and Director of the Rugby World Cup in 1999.

He received the IRB Distinguished Service Award in 2001 in recognition for his contributions to the sport.

Kiernan died on February 3, four days shy of a month, after celebrating his 83rd birthday.

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Published February 11, 2022 at 7:59 am (Updated February 11, 2022 at 7:59 am)

World Rugby Classic mourns death of former player Tom Kiernan

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