Former Ireland Grand Slam winner Jack Kyle has died at the age of 88.

Kyle, who was voted Ireland’s greatest player of all time in a 2002 poll and won 46 caps, died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Bryansford in County Down on Thursday night surrounded by his family.

The fly-half was at pitchside at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff when Ireland ended a 61-year wait for the Grand Slam in 2009. 

The World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee also made six Test appearances for the the British and Irish Lions during the 1950 tour to New Zealand and Australia, featuring in 20 of the 29 matches played. 

Brian O'Driscoll paid tribute to Kyle on Friday, calling him "a terrific player and a proper gentleman".

Kyle’s talents on the rugby field were rivalled by his expertise in the operating theatre.

The gifted surgeon took up a position in Indonesia in 1962 before moving to Africa to spend the next three decades working in Zambia.

For a number of years, the man born John Wilson Kyle in Belfast on 10 January 1926 was the only surgeon at Nchanga South Hospital in Chingola, located in Zambia’s Copperbelt.

Kyle spent his schooldays at Belfast Royal Academy and was an alumnus of Queen's University.

He first played for Ireland against a British Army XV during the Second World War and went on to score 24 points, including seven tries, in an international career that came to an end against Scotland in 1958.

Triple Crowns came Ireland’s and Kyle’s way in 1949 and 1951, while a mesmerising performance against France at Ravenhill in 1953 spurred one wag to pen The Scarlett Pimpernel-inspired tribute:

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

Jack Kyle dies aged 88