Johannesburg – Former Springbok centre and well known Stellenbosch University coach Ian Kirkpatrick has died in Somerset West at the age of 82.

Kirkpatrick, who made 13 Test appearances for the Springboks between 1953 and 1961, died in his sleep at home on Sunday morning.

“He owed much of his eminence to his reputation as an outstanding coach and mentor to generation after generation of Springbok players, as well as for his contribution to non-racial rugby,” the South African Rugby Union (Saru) said on Monday.

“In 1970 he led his native Griqualand West to arguably the most unexpected victory in the Currie Cup’s history when he coached his childhood province to an 11-9 victory over Northern Transvaal.”

Kirkpatrick made his debut against Australia at flyhalf at Newlands in 1953, but mostly played centre.

He toured New Zealand with the Springboks in 1956, and the United Kingdom and France in 1960/61, making a total of 43 Springbok appearances.

Kirkpatrick coached the Springboks on the 1974 tour of France, and joined the recently formed SA Rugby Board (SARB) in 1978 as their director of coaching.

“South African rugby has lost one of its greatest influences. He was an incredible coach and friend to some of South Africa’s greatest players but, what set him apart, was the fact that he gave every player the same attention,” said Saru CEO Jurie Roux.

“He was an incredibly humble man whose passion for the game and playing it in the right way shone through in everything he did. Stellenbosch and South African rugby has lost one of its greats.”

Kirkpatrick was born in Bloemfontein in 1930 and educated at Kimberley Boys’ High School.

He made his provincial debut for Griqualand West and was selected for the Springboks shortly after turning 23, to play in the second Test of the four-match series against Australia.

“This is a sad day for South African rugby,” said Saru president Oregan Hoskins.

“We have lost one of the true gentlemen of the game, as well as one of the game’s great thinkers. He was universally admired and respected and our condolences go to his family and many, many friends.” – Sapa