Ian Kirkpatrick

Ian Kirkpatrick's passion for the game shone through everything he did. Learn about his life and career with Rugby365, your resident rugby gurus. Click here for more.

Ian Kirkpatrick Biography

Ian Kirkpatrick passed away suddenly at his home in Helderberg Village on 18 November 2012. He was 82. His influence on South African rugby over six decades cannot be overestimated. He was still the Under-19 coach at the time of his death.

Ian Kirkpatrick, fondly known as Kirkie, made 13 Test appearances for the Springboks between 1953 and 1961. His debut was at flyhalf against Australia at Newlands in 1953, but he most frequently appeared at centre, touring New Zealand (1956) and the UK and France (1960-61) and making 43 Springbok appearances in all.

Alexander Ian Kirkpatrick was born in Bloemfontein on 25 July 1930. The family moved around a lot and he attended Herchiston Junior in Pietermaritzburg, Grey High in Port Elizabeth and Kimberley Boys’ High. He made his provincial debut for Griqualand West at 19 and was selected for the Springboks in 1953, shortly after his 23rd birthday in the second Test of the four-match series against Australia.

The next year Ian Kirkpatrick went to the Springbok trials at Newlands when the Springbok team was chosen for the 1951-52 tour. He played centre in the only Test won by South Africa in the 1956 series in New Zealand – an 8-3 victory at Athletic Park – and then made the bulk of his Test appearances in 1960 and 1961, playing ten Tests in as many months. He was only on a losing Springbok side twice in his 13 Tests.

Ian Kirkpatrick was a wonderful handler of the ball and those around him thrived on what he could enable them to do. But he was probably an even better coach when he took up the whistle after retiring as a player. In 1970 he led his native Griqualand West to arguably the most unexpected victory in the Absa Currie Cup’s history when he coached his childhood province to an 11-9 victory over Northern Transvaal.

He took over the coaching of the Springboks for their 1974 tour of France when Johan Claasen, the appointed coach, fell ill and Kirkie took over. In 1978 he joined the recently formed SA Rugby Board as their director of coaching. He also coached in Port Elizabeth and then Transvaal. In 1978, after the SA Rugby Board had been formed to include the Federation and the Association, Nelie Smith was appointed director of coaching.

He went off and in 1982 Doc Craven persuaded Transvaal to release Ian Kirkpatric from his post as their director of coaching to become the Board’s director of coaching. Together with coaches such as Abe Williams, Piet Kellerman and Dougie Dyers, Ian Kirkpatrick established coaching projects and non-racial teams and competitions to give life to the slogan of Danie Craven, the SARB President: “We will change South Africa on the rugby field.”

Subsequently Ian Kirkpatrick's name was to become synonymous with Maties rugby (Stellenbosch University) as generation-after-generation of players received his inspirational guidance. He was often described by his peers as an incredibly humble man whose passion for the game and playing it in the right way, shone through in everything he did.

He was employed by Shell in Bloemfontein, then ran his own garage in Kimberley and then became an outstanding coach. And he also played as much golf as possible.