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Page last updated at 07:56 GMT, Monday, 27 April 2009 08:56 UK

Irish rugby legend dies aged 82

Karl Mullen
Karl Mullen captained the 1948 Grand Slam winning team

Karl Mullen, who captained the team that won Ireland's first Grand Slam, has died at the age of 82.

He led Ireland's Five Nations team to the prize in 1948, an achievement unequalled until Declan Kidney's team won the Grand Slam earlier this year.

He also captained the British and Irish Lions on their tour to Australia and New Zealand in 1950.

He won 25 international caps for Ireland in the 1940s and 1950s, playing at hooker.

Mullen was educated at Belvedere College and UCD.

Jack Kyle, one of the heroes during Mullen's tenure as Grand Slam captain, said he was a wonderful leader and player.

"Karl was very unassuming, and certainly did not push his weight around when he was captain," said Kyle.

"He was quietly authoritative and a superb technical player.

"We were both medical students when we first played together for an Ireland XV against the British Army in 1945.

"Karl was only 22 when he was made captain of the side in that memorable 1948 season.

"Karl didn't say much as captain but when he did it was straight to the point.

"Before the final game at Ravenhill he just said 'We have a job to do here today, so let's get on with it'.

"He led the Lions two years later to New Zealand and Australia, and it was a very successful tour considering that we were away for six months.

"We did well in Australia and sang our way through New Zealand.

"We became very close, and he came over to stay with me when I worked as a surgeon in Zambia and I would stay at his home in Dublin.

"He had a very happy life and it is sad that he has passed away."

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