David Humphreys (rugby player)

David Humphreys (rugby player)

David Humphreys MBE (born 10 September 1971 in Belfast, Northern Ireland) is a retired Rugby player. He played for Ireland and for Ulster.

Humphreys was educated at Ballymena Academy, the Queen's University of Belfast and Oxford University. Humphreys has represented Ireland at A, U21 and schools levels and has also been capped for the Barbarians. He led the Ireland Schools' side to the Triple Crown back in 1992 when he was at Ballymena Academy. He broke into the Ulster senior squad a year later helping them to victory over Cumbria at Cockermouth. Humphreys was a law student at Queen's University of Belfast at the time. When he graduated, he moved to Oxford University. At the 1995 Varsity Match Humphreys scored all Oxford's points (a try, conversion, drop goal and three penalties) in their defeat by Cambridge 21-19.

Humphreys duly qualified as a solicitor and came under the tutelage of a Belfast practice whose senior partner happened to be Mike Gibson, one of Ireland's greatest-ever players. Humphreys converted from the amateur game to the professional ranks with London Irish whose coaches included Willie Anderson and Clive Woodward.

Humphreys made his Ireland debut against France on 17 February 1996, and went on to win over 70 caps, making him Ireland's most capped fly-half.

He returned to Ulster with the advent of professionalism in the province at the beginning of the 1998-99 season and captained Ulster to European Cup glory in 1999.

At the height of his powers Humphreys was a formidable outside half with excellent positional kicking from the hand, accurate and consistent goal kicking plus devastating acceleration from a standing start which regularly set up try-scoring moves in the three-quarter line. In addition, his drop goal was a vital part of Ulster and Ireland's armoury in the late stages of close games.

Later in his career, he suffered from inconsistent form and competed with Munster's Ronan O'Gara for a place in the Ireland team. In the 2003-4 season he lost his Ireland place in the side, but with Ronan O'Gara on Lions duty, he played in both of the summer 2005 Tests against Japan - captaining the side twice. He came on as a substitute against New Zealand in November 2005, and did the same against Australia the following week. Humphreys captained Ireland for the fifth time in the November 2005 win against Romania.

David Humphreys announced his retirement from international rugby after being an unused replacement throughout the 2006 Six Nations campaign.

Humphreys cemented a reputation for last-ditch heroics in the final match of the 2005-6 season. Ulster had gone into the final week of competition narrowly leading the Celtic League, but a decisive win for Leinster away to Edinburgh concluded during the final minutes of Ulster's final match, against the Ospreys in South Wales. With Ulster two points behind with just four minutes to go and the Ospreys dominating territorially, it looked like the cup would go to Dublin. Humphreys, however, kicked a last minute 40 metre drop goal to clinch the game and the league for Ulster.

He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Ulster in 2003 for Services to Sport and an MBE in the Queens New Year’s Honours List in January 2004.

Humphreys played his last ever match for Ulster and possibly in the sport against Cardiff Blues in the Magners League on 9 May 2008. He lead the team onto the pitch to a standing ovation from the Ravenhill crowd. He was subbed off after 8 minutes with a bad limp, again to a standing ovation from the Ulster supporters as well as the Cardiff staff.

His younger brother Ian Humphreys is also a fly-half. He currently plays for Ulster.


External links

* [http://www.ulsterrugby.com/13_4226.php Ulster profile]
* [http://www.planet-rugby.com/stats/players/players_listing.phtml/p_r/ENG?setCode=archive&search_text=David+Humphreys&tournament_code=international&country=&scdate=1871&ecdate=2004&position=&sbdate=1871&ebdate=2004&go=Submit Statistics from Planet Rugby]
* [http://www.sporting-heroes.net/rugby-heroes/displayhero.asp?HeroID=1275 Sporting heroes 1]
* [http://www.sporting-heroes.net/rugby-heroes/displayhero.asp?HeroID=1752 Sporting heroes 2]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_union/european/4883814.stm Humphries retires from game]

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