Former Ireland and Lions great Syd Millar dies, aged 89

Muireann Duffy

Former Ireland prop and British and Irish Lions player, coach and manager Syd Millar died on Sunday, aged 89.

Millar was a stalwart of Ballymena Rugby Club and Ulster Rugby and made his Ireland debut in 1958, winning a total of 37 caps, as well as appearing on three British and Irish Lions tours.

He served as Ireland coach from 1973 to 1975 and led the Lions on an undefeated tour of South Africa in 1974. He also managed the Lions on the 1980 tour, and Ireland in the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987.

He went on to become chairperson of the International Rugby Board (IRB), the sport's global governing body now known as World Rugby, from 2003 until 2007.

"I know that I speak on behalf of colleagues and the global rugby family when I say that Syd Millar was a giant of the game on the world stage," said World Rugby chairperson Bill Beaumont in a statement.

"As influential in the boardroom as he was brilliant as a player, coach and manager, Syd was a natural leader and visionary, someone who cared deeply about the sport, its people, values and future," he added.

Millar was elected president of the Irish Football Union (IRFU) in 1995, a transformational era for the sport, and was chairperson of the British and Irish Lions between 1999 and 2002.

He was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 2009.