A mesmeric runner with ball in hand and a fine all-round footballer, Mike Gibson was the most capped player in the world – 69 for Ireland and 12 for the British and Irish Lions – when he retired in 1979 after a 15-year international career.

Irrespective of whether he played centre or fly-half, Gibson’s awareness on the field of play meant he had the capacity to regularly outwit the opposition. The Northern Irishman captained his country in five tests and toured with the Lions on five occasions, including the all-conquering trips to New Zealand in 1971 and South Africa in 1974. He also made nine appearances for the Barbarians.

A one-club man, Gibson played 22 seasons for Belfast-based North of Ireland FC and 16 seasons for Ulster. While at Cambridge University, he also featured in three Varsity matches, winning the first, in 1963.

  • Players View

    There are so many elements in rugby that are of use in dealing with life. The enrichment comes from the satisfaction of being a member of a successful side, but more from the fact that you were in a team that fought together, and these memories would not leave me.

    -Mike Gibson