David Humphreys (rugby union)

David Humphreys MBE (born 10 September 1971) is a retired rugby union player. He played 72 times for Ireland, scoring 560 points, including 6 tries, and at the time of his international retirement was Ireland's most capped outhalf. He played his club rugby for Ulster, captaining Ulster to victory in the 1998-99 Heineken Cup.

David Humphreys
Birth nameDavid Humphreys
Date of birth (1971-09-10) 10 September 1971
Place of birthBelfast, Northern Ireland
Height1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Weight83 kg (13.1 st; 183 lb)
SchoolBallymena Academy
UniversityQueen's University Belfast, University of Oxford
Rugby union career
Position(s) Fly-half
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
London Irish
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1996–2006 Ireland 72 (560)
Teams coached
Years Team
Gloucester Rugby

He has also had a successful coaching career with Ulster Rugby and has recently signed for Gloucester Rugby.

Early career

Born 10 September 1971, Belfast, Northern Ireland, Humphreys led the Ireland Schools' side to the Triple Crown in 1992 when he was at Ballymena Academy. While at Oxford, 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.

Irish International

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. Humpreys has made an outstanding contribution to Irish Rugby, as well as notching up an impressive tally of international caps. Humphreys has also been capped for the Barbarians

Humphreys represented Ireland at A, U21 and Schools Levels. Humphreys made his Ireland debut against France on 17 February 1996.

Later in his career, Humphreys suffered from inconsistent form, and competed with Munster's Ronan O'Gara, who would eventually surpass him as Ireland's most-capped fly-half, for a place in the Ireland team. Humphreys played for Ireland at the 2003 Rugby World Cup, sharing time at the flyhalf position and sharing kicking duties with Ronan O'Gara. In the 2003–4 season Humphreys lost his place in the Ireland side.

Humphreys played in Ireland's summer 2005 tests against Japan, captaining the side twice, with O'Gara on Lions duty. In November 2005, he played against New Zealand and Australia, and captained Ireland for the fifth time against Romania. Humphreys announced his retirement from international rugby after being an unused replacement throughout the 2006 Six Nations campaign. Humphrey' retired as Ireland's most capped out-half with 72 appearances, and with 560 international points.

Ulster Rugby

Humphreys broke into the Ulster senior squad helping them to victory over Cumbria at Cockermouth. Humphreys converted from the amateur game and began his professional rugby career with the London Irish.

Humphreys returned to Ulster with the advent of professionalism in the province at the beginning of the 1998–99 season. In the defining moment of his career, Humphreys captained Ulster to victory in the 1998-99 Heineken Cup, defeating Colomiers 21–6 in the final before 49,500 fans at Lansdowne Road in Dublin, scoring a drop goal in the process.[1]

Humphreys scored 37 points, a record in the Heineken Cup, in Ulster's 42–16 win against Wasps in 2002.[2] In September 2004 (v Connacht), he became only the 4th Ulster player to reach the 100 cap mark, joining Gary Longwell, James Topping and Andy Ward in reaching that milestone. In 2004 Humphreys scored 17 points in the Celtic Cup final against Edinburgh as Ulster ran out 21-27 winners.

Humphreys cemented a reputation for last-ditch heroics in the final match of the 2005–06 season against the Ospreys. Ulster had gone into the final week of competition narrowly leading the Celtic League over rivals Leinster. With Ulster two points behind the Ospreys with just four minutes to go, Humphreys kicked a 40-metre drop goal to clinch the game and the league for Ulster.[3]

Humphreys ended the 2006/07 season with the most points scored for Ulster – 200 points with 20 caps in one season.

Humphreys played his last match for Ulster on 9 May 2008 against Cardiff Blues in the Celtic League. He led 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.


Following his retirement in 2008, Humphreys continued with Ulster as the club's director of operations.[4]

On 7 June 2014, Humphreys signed to Gloucester as Director of Rugby.


Humphreys has represented Ireland at A, U21 and schools levels and has also captained the Barbarians.

Humphreys was educated at Ballymena Academy. Humphreys studied law at Queen's University Belfast. When he graduated, he moved to St Cross College, Oxford.[5] Humphreys qualified as a solicitor.

He received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Ulster in December 2003 for Services to Sport and an MBE in the Queens New Year's Honours List in January 2004, making his full title, Dr David Humphreys MBE.


  1. Culture, northernireland.org, Most capped Irish outhalf and European cup winner, 14 July 2008, http://www.culturenorthernireland.org/article/1065/david-humphreys
  2. Culture, northernireland.org, Most capped Irish outhalf and European cup winner, 14 July 2008, http://www.culturenorthernireland.org/article/1065/david-humphreys
  3. "Humphreys lands title for Ulster". telegraph.co.uk. 27 May 2006. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  4. RaboDirecot PRO12, Humphreys commits again to Ulster, 4 June 2008, http://www.rabodirectpro12.com/news/2948.php
  5. Former Internationals, Oxford University Rugby Football Club
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