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Leinster and Ireland mourn the passing of rugby stalwarts

Gerry Culliton, who was capped 19 times for his country, and Seamus Kelly, Wexford’s first rugby international, featured in the Irish jersey in the 1950s.

Gerry Culliton pictured with the Irish team in 1961.
Gerry Culliton pictured with the Irish team in 1961.
Image: ©INPHO/IRFU Collection

LEINSTER RUGBY HAS expressed its sympathy to the families of former players Gerry Culliton and Seamus Kelly after the recent passing of both men.

Culliton was capped 19 times for Ireland having made his international debut against England at Lansdowne Road in 1959.

Kelly played his schools rugby with Clongowes Wood College and club rugby with Wexford Wanderers and Lansdowne. He featured at out-half on five occasions for the national team.

Culliton also featured in the 1961 Barbarians side that defeated the world-class South African team during its 30-match tour of Britain and Ireland.

The former Cistercian College (Roscrea), Tullamore RFC and Wanderers (Dublin) player featured in various forward positions throughout his rugby career but made the greatest impact in the second-row.

Veteran rugby analyst Fred Cogley, in a 2009 piece for the Evening Herald, rated Culliton alongside Irish greats such as Moss Keane and Willie John McBride.

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Beating the unbeatable

Culliton played South Africa with Ireland in 1961 but got to face up to the Springboks earlier that year (4 February) when he lined up with fellow Irish stars Gordon Wood, Ronnie Dawson and Syd Millar in Twickenham.

Gerry Culliton (far right, second row) with the Ireland team that played South Africa in 1961. (©INPHO/IRFU Collection)

The ‘Boks had won 28 matches of the 30-game tour, drawing the other, when they faced the Baa Baas.

AC Parker, in his book The Springboks: 1891-1970, credited the all-Irish front row – Wood, Millar and Dawson – and the back-row as the main reasons for the 6-0 victory. He stated:

The three Baabaas loose forwards, the two Morgans (Haydn and Derek) and Gerry Culliton, had a major share in this upset victory.

In mentioning the passing of the former internationals, Leinster Rugby commented, “Our thoughts are with his friends and family at this sad time.”

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About the author:

Patrick McCarry

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