Stuart Lancaster and Lee Blackett quick to pay tribute to coach Jim Kilfoyle

FORMER England chief Stuart Lancaster has led tributes to ex-Wakefield, Sandal and Yorkshire coach Jim Kilfoyle saying he was one of the greatest coaches he has ever known.

Jim Kilfoyle.

The enigmatic Liverpudlian died on Boxing Day from coronavirus. Kilfoyle had most recently been in charge at Sandal but – having impressed as a player and coach at Wakefield – was arguably best known for helping unfashionable Rotherham Titans reach the Premiership.

Leinster coach Lancaster, though, remembered him from his own playing days at the now defunct Wakefield.

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He said: “I joined straight from school in 1988 and, at that time, they were one of the top teams in the north of England. Mike Harrison was there, Bryan Barley, (both England internationals) and so many great players who were all coached by Jim.

Stuart Lancaster, pictured during a Leinster pre-match warm-up. Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images

“A lot of my philosophy on the game, both as a player and coach, was shaped by my time at Wakefield but, more importantly, by Jim’s coaching. He was a great personality and coach but also a great person. He created a very attack-minded Wakefield team with a freedom to play that was based on the way he coached.

“He was ahead of his time, really, in terms of the way he managed his players but also understood the game.”

It was no surprise Yorkshire won two County Championships after Kilfoyle also took on the White Rose job. After leaving Rotherham, the former teacher switched to Sandal in 2006 and helped them rise up the divisions.

Ex-Leeds Tykes director of rugby Lancaster, 51, said: “Jim sent me a text after the Champions Cup final when we beat Racing in 2018 and said he was so pleased for me. But I replied “I’m just playing the same games we did at Wakefield!’ A lot of what I learnt from him there, I play at Leinster.

Wasps coach Lee Blackett, who played under Jim Kilfoyle at Rotherham. Picture: Nick Potts/PA.

“He’ll be missed by many not just because of the power of his personality but because of how good he was; I’ve worked with many great coaches but Jim was right up in the top drawer.”

Wasps head coach Lee Blackett played under Kilfoyle at Rotherham and said: “He really tried to promote me from the academy and I have nothing but positive things to say about Killer.

“He was a special guy, a bloke everyone loved at the club. We had some tough times but he worked ridiculously hard and helped save the club. If you look at the glory days, too, he had a massive say in all of that.”

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