'Hilarious storyteller, the life and soul of any team he was part of': Tributes pour in for the late Gary Halpin
The rugby world has been paying tribute to former Ireland prop Gary Halpin, who has died at the age of 55. Social media has been flooded with figures from across the game paying respect to the Irishman and reflecting on his career.
Halpin won eleven caps for Ireland between 1990 and 1995 after making his debut against England and he competed in two World Cups. He is perhaps best remembered for his exuberant celebration after scoring a try against the All Blacks in the 1995 tournament. He also represented Ireland in the hammer throw at the 1987 track and field World Championships in Rome.
Plenty of players have mentioned his off-field personality as well as his fierce approach on the pitch, with Alan Quinlan calling him a “wonderful character”.
Brian O’Driscoll, who played alongside Halpin at the beginning of his career for Leinster, described him as “a hilarious storyteller and the life and soul of any team he was part of”. His former Leinster coach Matt Williams echoed this, saying that Halpin had “the best sense of humour” and was “the funniest man I have ever coached”.
Irish Rugby added to this, describing him as “a unique and much-loved figure in the game”. Having played in England for Harlequins and London Irish as well as Leinster, Halpin would have had plenty of teammates across his career.
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London Irish described him as an “inspirational leader” after representing them for seven years in the 1990s. Current Harlequins coach and fellow Ireland international Jerry Flannery said that he was one of his “favourite players” growing up.
Halpin more recently worked at Cistercian College in Roscrea and coached at Kilkenny. The club said on Twitter: “He had a distinctive and assertive style of coaching, he was a gentleman and a genuine person, he will be missed by many.”
Very sad news to hear this morning of the passing suddenly of Gary Halpin. What a lovely man he was and a wonderful character. Sincere condolences to all his family and friends. R.I.P.
— Alan Quinlan (@AlanQuinlan1) February 24, 2021
— Jerry Flannery (@jerryflannery) February 24, 2021
Heart broken at the news that Gary Halpin has died. A great athlete representing Ireland at hammer throwing & rugby. The best sense of humour & the funniest man I have ever coached. Off the field a gentleman & great family man.The world today is a lesser place. RIP Gary.
— Matt Williams (@MattRCNM) February 24, 2021
Shocked to hear about the sad passing of former 1991 World Cup teammate Gary Halpin. One of those great characters that always made you smile. My sincere condolences to his family. pic.twitter.com/uhLVUDUFC4
— Donal Lenihan (@LenihanDonal) February 24, 2021
Gary Halpin was old school rugby.. fierce on the pitch but generous in the bar. A great man will be missed my so many #RIP
— Austin Healey (@IamAustinHealey) February 24, 2021
Brutal news about the death of the infamous prop Gary Halpin. From my time at @londonirish and prior to that I enjoyed being in his company. As good on the pitch as he was off it. Rugby fraternity is poorer today with this news #rip ?
— Toby Booth (@Boothy6) February 24, 2021
Amazing character. RIP
— Eddie O'Sullivan (@TheRealEddieOS) February 24, 2021
It’s with great sadness & surprise that we’ve learned of the sudden & untimely death of IrishRugby legend & Kilkenny RFC life member Gary Halpin, at just 55. Gary played at both 1991 & 1995 world cups, picking up 11 international caps along the way, scoring a memorable try pic.twitter.com/7kWGUcvzSQ
— Kilkenny Rugby (@KilkennyRFC) February 24, 2021
London Irish has learned with regret of the death of its former player & friend Gary Halpin.
Gary joined London Irish in 1991 & over the following seven years made 122 appearances. He was an inspirational leader & the Club’s first captain of the professional era.
RIP Gary ? pic.twitter.com/1CNKizT8KD
— London Irish (@londonirish) February 24, 2021
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