Rugby greats Beaumont and McBride attend service of thanksgiving for Syd Millar

Rugby greats Sir Bill Beaumont and Willie John McBride have attended a service of thanksgiving for Ireland and Lions prop Syd Millar.

Mourners at West Presbyterian Church in Ballymena were told that Millar remained a modest and devoted family man despite his success on the rugby pitch and as a coach and administrator.

The Ulster prop played 37 times for Ireland and featured in nine Lions Tests across three tours.

He then coached the Lions to a series win over the Springboks in 1974, and was manager of the tour to South Africa six years later.

Syd Millar funeral
Willie John McBride following a service of thanksgiving for Syd Millar (Liam McBurney/PA)

Millar was also chairman of the International Rugby Board (now World Rugby) from 2003 to 2007.

The death of the father of three at the age of 89 was announced at the weekend.

World Rugby chairman Sir Bill, former Ireland and Lions captain McBride, ex-Wales international Ieuan Evans and Irish internationals Willie Anderson and Nigel Carr were among the mourners at the service in Co Antrim.

Ian McIlrath, former president of the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU), told the service that no tribute would be adequate to pay tribute to Millar.

He said: “Most of you will be aware that he was indeed Dr Millar CBE, MBE, a recipient of the Legion d’Honneur, but to most of us he was just Syd.

“It is testament to him and his family that so many of you are gathered here this afternoon.

Syd Millar funeral
Former Ireland rugby international Willie Anderson (left) (Liam McBurney/PA)

“This was his church, one he was very fond of and attended regularly.

“What I do say will only be scratching the surface of what has been the most outstanding career when considering all aspects of the game – playing, coaching, administration – of any rugby person anywhere.”

He added: “There will never be another Syd. The mould from which Syd Millar was cast is no more.

“We are all the poorer for his passing and may he rest in peace.”

Rev Daniel Kane said Millar remained modest despite his success.

He said: “Lots has been made of the fact that Syd was one of the famous ’74 British and Irish Lions.

Syd Millar funeral
Ian McIlrath leaves the service of thanksgiving (Liam McBurney/PA)

“He never lost the run of himself, his feet were always firmly planted on the ground.

“That is apart from when he was in a rugby lineout.

“He was great at getting the best out of people, always looking out for those on the margins of life and concerned for the less well off.”

Millar’s son Jonathan told the service that the family felt a sense of peace knowing their father was reunited with his late wife Enid.

He said: “We lost mum in 2018 and since then dad adopted a smaller and slower lifestyle.

“They say in life you should never meet your heroes because they always disappoint.

“Dad was our hero and he never disappointed.”