David Humphreys
Birth nameDavid Humphreys
Date of birth (1971-09-10) 10 September 1971 (age 52)
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
Notable relative(s)Ian Humphreys (brother)
Rugby union career
Position(s) Fly-half
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1990-1994 Queen's University RFC ()
1994 Ballymena R.F.C. ()
1994-95 Oxford University RFC ()
1998- Dungannon RFC ()
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
1996–1998 London Irish 56 (277)
1992–97, 1998-2008 Ulster 163 (1585)
International career
Years Team Apps (Points)
1996–2006 Ireland 72 (560)
Coaching career
Years Team
2008–2014 Ulster
2014–2020 Gloucester Rugby
2020 Georgia

David Humphreys' scores a Heineken Cup record 37 points against Wasps in 2001

David Humphreys MBE (born 10 September 1971) is a former Irish 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 out-half. He played his club rugby for London Irish and Ulster, winning the 1998-99 Heineken Cup, the 2004 Celtic Cup and the 2005–06 Celtic League with the latter. Since retiring as a player he has served as director of rugby for Ulster and Gloucester, as a performance consultant with the Georgian Rugby Union, and is currently Director of Performance Operations with the England and Wales Cricket Board. He will succeed David Nucifora as the IRFU Performance Director in 2024.

Playing career

Early career

Humphreys started playing rugby while at Ballymena Academy,[1]: p. 17  and represented Ireland Schools, captaining them to the Triple Crown in 1990.[2] In the amateur era, he played for Queen's University RFC, with whom he won the Dudley Cup in 1994,[3] Ballymena R.F.C.,[4] and Oxford University RFC, for whom he scored all 19 points in a losing effort in the 1995 Varsity Match.[5] He also played provincial representative rugby for Ulster, making his senior debut in an away victory over Cumbria in 1992,[6] and his Interprovincial debut against Munster the same year,[7][8] and was selected for Ireland under-21, 'A' and development teams.[9][10]

London Irish

After rugby union was declared open to professionalism in 1995, Humphreys was approached by Clive Woodward to sign for London Irish,[1]: pp. 18–19  then in Division Two of the Courage League.[11] He made his debut for the club in January 1996, with Ireland coach Murray Kidd in attendance.[12] They were promoted to Division One the following season, but after poor results in the top flight, Woodward was replaced as coach by Willie Anderson,[1]: p. 19  who helped them avoid relegation,[13][14] with Humphreys described as the "catalyst" for their "Houdini-like escape", scoring 18 points in the relegation play-off victory over Coventry.[15] The following season, London Irish struggled again. Anderson was sacked in mid-season, replaced by Dick Best,[16] and they again avoided relegation in a playoff against Rotherham.[17]


Humphreys continued to be selected for Ulster while at London Irish, starring in a win against New South Wales in February 1996, in which he scored 17 points - a try, three conversions, a drop goal and a penalty.[18] He appeared for Ulster in the 1996–97 Heineken Cup, defying London Irish to do so,[19] but was unavailable for the province the following season, after the English clubs declared that they no longer considered the Irish provinces to be representative sides.[1]: p. 20  Warren Gatland, the new Ireland coach, led a drive by the IRFU to bring Irish players who had signed contracts with English clubs back to Ireland for the 1998–99 season, Humphreys being one of them.[1]: 16–22  He joined Dungannon RFC, making him available for selection for Ulster,[20] and agreed a contract with the IRFU.[21] After Mark McCall sustained a serious neck injury, Humphreys was named Ulster's captain, and led them to win the 1998–99 Heineken Cup.[22]

He won the All-Ireland League with Dungannon in 2001, and was man of the match in the final, scoring five penalties, four conversions and a drop goal, 26 points in all, against Cork Constitution.[23] For Ulster, he was the leading scorer in the inaugural Celtic League in 2001–02 with 122 points, and the league's leading marksman with 39 successful goal kicks.[24] He set a Heineken Cup record for the most points scored in a single game, with 37 in Ulster's 42–16 win against Wasps in 2002.[25] With Ulster, he won the Celtic Cup in 2004, scoring 17 points in the final,[26][27] and the Celtic League in 2006, scoring a last-minute 40-metre drop goal in the final game to clinch the title.[28]

He won Ulster's player of the year and supporters' club player of the year awards in 2002,[29] and the team's personality of the year award in 1999,[30] 2000[31] and 2008.[32] He won a supporters' poll for Ulster's all-time favourite player in 2008.[33] He retired in 2008 as Ulster's most capped player with 163 appearances,[34] having scored 27 tries, 179 conversions, 326 penalties and 38 drop goals, 1,585 points in all.[35] At the time of his retirement he was the Celtic League's top scorer with 786 points, and the Heineken Cup's fourth top scorer[33] with 583 points.[36]

International career

Humphreys made his senior debut for Ireland against France in the 1996 Five Nations Championship.[37] For several years he vied with Munster's Ronan O'Gara for the out-half position on the Ireland team, with O'Gara ultimately making the position his own.[38] Nevertheless, Humphreys won 72 caps for Ireland, captaining the side five times. He retired from the international game in 2006 as Ireland's most-capped out-half[25] and second highest points scorer, having scored six tries, 110 penalties, 88 conversions and eight drop-goals, 560 points in all.[35] He also represented Ireland at the 1997 Rugby World Cup Sevens,[39] and played six times for the Barbarians between 2003 and 2005, once as captain, and scored 33 points.[40]

Post-playing career

On retiring as a player, he was appointed to the new role of Operations Director of Ulster, with responsibility for contract negotiations.[34] The following season, he became the team's Director of Rugby, overseeing the senior team, the 'A' team, the under-20s and the academy.[41] His role included player recruitment, and he is credited with signing South African stars Ruan Pienaar, Johann Muller and John Afoa,[42] and persuading Tommy Bowe and Roger Wilson to return to Ulster.[43] In 2014 he became Director of Rugby at Gloucester.[44] He left this role at the end of the 2019–20 season.[45] He had a high performance consulting role with Georgia at the 2020 Autumn Nations Cup.[46] In 2021 he launched a sports recruitment company, SportsWork.[47] He was also in involved in cricket in Ireland and England, serving on the high performance committee of Cricket Ireland[48] before becoming director of cricket operations for the England and Wales Cricket Board in February 2023.[49] In November 2023 it was announced that he would join the Irish Rugby Football Union as Performance Director Designate in March 2024, before succeeding David Nucifora as Performance Director in June.[50]

Personal life

His sister Karen is a former international hockey player,[51] and his younger brother Ian was a professional rugby player, who played out-half for Leicester Tigers, London Irish and Ulster. His son James is an Ireland under-20 international, and joined the Ulster Rugby academy in 2021.[52]

He studied law at Queen's University Belfast,[53] He trained as a solicitor with Belfast law firm Tughans, under former Ulster and Ireland rugby international Mike Gibson.

He received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Ulster in December 2003 for Services to Sport[54] and an MBE in the Queens New Year's Honours List in January 2004.[55] He was inducted into the IRUPA Hall of Fame in 2008.[56]


  1. ^ a b c d e Jonathan Bradley, The Last Amateurs: The Incredible Story of Ulster Rugby's 1999 European Champions, The Blackstaff Press, 2018
  2. ^ Kieran Rooney, "Magnificent Irish heroes capture Triple Crown", Irish Independent, 19 April 1990
  3. ^ Gareth Fullerton, "David Humphreys insists Irish club rugby needs to survive and thrive", Belfast Live, 26 September 2020
  4. ^ Kieran Rooney, "Simon's false alarm", Irish Independent, 17 May 1994
  5. ^ John Mason, "Humphreys left singing blues after heroic display", Irish Independent, 13 December 1995
  6. ^ "Cumbria caught Red-handed". Irish Independent, 8 September 1992
  7. ^ Jim Stokes, "Hero Humphreys", Ireland's Saturday Night, 28 November 1992
  8. ^ Kieran Rooney, "Missed penalties are only worry for victorious Irish", Irish Independent, 26 July 1993
  9. ^ Mark Jones, "Humphreys hits heights", Sunday Life, 25 July 1993
  10. ^ Nuala Haughey, "Power and the Glory", Ireland's Saturday Night, 23 October 1993
  11. ^ "Courage Clubs Championship 1995/", Moseley Rugby Club, archived 16 March 2015
  12. ^ Jim Stokes, "Campese rarin' to go", Belfast Telegraph, 27 January 1996
  13. ^ Brendan Fanning, "Anderson wins round one for troubled 'Irish", Sunday Independent, 27 April 1997
  14. ^ "Despairing Coventry plan swift retribution", The Birmingham Post, 12 May 1997
  15. ^ Micheal McGeary, "Humph's up and under", Sunday Life, 18 May 1997
  16. ^ Peter O'Reilly, "Best lays plans for survival of the fittest", The Sunday Tribune, 17 May 1998
  17. ^ "Class tells for Irish", The Birmingham Post, 25 May 1998
  18. ^ Kieran Rooney, "Humphreys stakes claim", Irish Independent, 7 February 1996
  19. ^ Bill Leith, "Rugby Union: Topping grabs spoils", The Independent, 13 October 1996
  20. ^ Jim Stokes, "Humphreys set for Dungannon", Belfast Telegraph, 1 June 1998
  21. ^ Jim Stokes, "Dungannon to welcome home exiles", Belfast Telegraph, 26 May 1998
  22. ^ Bruce McKendry, Champions: The Players' Story, IRFU (Ulster Branch), 1999, pp. 8-21
  23. ^ Micheal McGeary, "Willie's boys get job Dun", Sunday Life, 27 May 2001
  24. ^ Statzone, Pro12 Rugby, retrieved 2 June 2022
  25. ^ a b "David Humphreys: Most capped Irish outhalf and European cup winner" Archived 21 September 2020 at the Wayback Machine, Culture Northern Ireland, 10 April 2006, archived 8 April 2015
  26. ^ "Ulster hold on for victory", BBC Sport, 20 December 2003
  27. ^ Brendan Fanning, "Humphreys king of Celtic warriors", Sunday Independent, 21 December 2003
  28. ^ "Humphreys lands title for Ulster". telegraph.co.uk. 27 May 2006. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  29. ^ "Humphreys doubles up", BBC Sport, 24 May 2002
  30. ^ Jim Stokes, "Ulster toasts master Mason", Belfast Telegraph, 28 May 1999
  31. ^ Jim Stokes, "Humphreys is 'Mr Personality'", Belfast Telegraph, 19 May 2000
  32. ^ Richard Mulligan, "Humphreys steals the limelight while Monaghan boy Bowe bows out in style", News Letter, 16 May 2008
  33. ^ a b Richard Mulligan, "Fans poll punts 'Humph' heads above the rest", News Letter, 7 May 2008
  34. ^ a b Richard Mulligan, "New Role in Ulster for Humphreys", News Letter, 5 June 2008
  35. ^ a b Gavin Mairs, "Thanks for the memories David", Belfast Telegraph, 9 May 2008
  36. ^ David Humphreys at European Professional Club Rugby
  37. ^ John O'Shea, "English: 'Open' and shut case", Evening Herald, 20 February 1996
  38. ^ "Ronan O'Gara, David Humphreys and the battle for 'Number 10'", Off The Ball, 30 March 2020
  39. ^ "Irish bowled over by Japan", Irish Independent, 24 March 1997
  40. ^ "Player Archive: D. G. Humphreys", Barbarian F. C., retrieved 18 July 2022
  41. ^ "McLaughlin Confirmed As New Ulster Coach", Irish Rugby, 23 June 2009
  42. ^ "David Humphreys becomes Gloucester director of rugby", BBC Sport, 7 June 2014
  43. ^ "When is a ‘Head Coach’ not a Head Coach?", The Front Row Union, 24 August 2012
  44. ^ "David Humphreys leaves Ulster for Director of Rugby position at Gloucester". The Score. 7 June 2014. Retrieved 2 July 2014.
  45. ^ "David Humphreys to leave Gloucester Rugby". Gloucester Rugby. 2 June 2020. Retrieved 2 June 2020.
  46. ^ "David Humphreys and Neil Doak secure Georgia coaching roles", BBC Sport, 11 October 2020
  47. ^ David Elliott, "Former Ulster and Ireland rugby star Humphreys launches sports recruitment company", Business Live, 19 November 2021
  48. ^ "David Humphreys set to succeed Nucifora as IRFU's high performance director". Irish Times. Retrieved 28 October 2023.
  49. ^ "Former Ulster fly-half David Humphreys to take up director of cricket role at ECB: reports". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 28 October 2023.
  50. ^ "IRFU Announce David Humphreys As New Performance Director", Irish Rugby, 1 November 2023
  51. ^ Richard Bullick, "The whole nine years", News Letter, 31 January 2008
  52. ^ Darren Fullerton, "Ulster Academy: James Humphreys - son of former Ireland No10 David - added to squad for 2021/22 season", Belfast Live, 12 August 2021
  53. ^ Gareth Fullerton, "Rugby hero David Humphreys letting son James carve out own career", Belfast Live, 25 September 2020
  54. ^ "Canavan, Humphreys awarded honorary degrees", The Irish Times, 30 October 2003
  55. ^ "Wizard Humphreys now an MBE", BBC Sport, 30 December 2003
  56. ^ "Humphreys set to join IRUPA Hall of Fame", ESPN, 1r April 2008