Former Irish rugby player and European Professional Club Rugby chairman Paul McNaughton has died at the age of 69 ©Getty Images

Former Irish rugby union international and leading sports administrator Paul McNaughton has died at the age of 69, Leinster Rugby has announced.

A hugely varied and versatile sportsman, McNaughton earned 15 Ireland caps between 1978 and 1981.

He had previously played in two Football Association of Ireland (FAI) Cup finals.

Leinster Rugby described McNaughton as "the very definition of a 'sportsman'."

McNaughton also played Gaelic football and hurling to a good standard before football and rugby took over.

He played for Shelbourne in the League of Ireland, with whom he played in two FAI Cup finals in 1973 and 1975, finishing on the losing side on both occasions.

He then started playing rugby for Leinster and earned his Irish cap in the 1978 Five Nations in the 12-9 win over Scotland at Lansdowne Road.

McNaughton was prominent in the triumphant tour of Australia in 1979, starting at inside centre in both test matches as Ireland won the series 2-0, which would mark the last victory over the Wallabies until 2002.

Playing as a centre, McNaughton played 15 times for Ireland over the next three years, earning his final cap against France in the 1981 Five Nations.

In later years, he served as Leinster team manager and subsequently Ireland team manager between 2008 and 2011, operating as part of the backroom team in the Grand Slam campaign of 2009.

McNaughton also made his mark internationally in sports administration at European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR).

He served as both chairman and as a Board director of the tournament organiser of the Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup.

McNaughton was a highly influential figure during the management of EPCR's transition from its former headquarters in Dublin to Lausanne in Switzerland when both his deep knowledge of rugby and his business expertise were brought to bear.

After graduating from Dublin University, he worked for the IDA (Ireland) in the United before returning to Ireland to take up senior posts in finance at the Bank of Ireland and then Deutsche Bank.

He left Deutsche Bank in 2004 after leading the sale of the bank’s global funds business before serving as a non-executive director for several investment companies.

Paul McNaughton was team manager of Ireland's rugby team between 2008 and 2011 ©Getty Images
Paul McNaughton was team manager of Ireland's rugby team between 2008 and 2011 ©Getty Images

Dominic McKay, the current EPCR chairman, paid tribute to McNaughton, whose death was announced on Monday (November 7). 

"All at EPCR are hugely saddened to hear of Paul McNaughton's passing," he said.

"Many of us knew Paul well and recognise his significant contribution not just to EPCR, but to Irish rugby and the game more widely.

"Paul was a great supporter and friend of EPCR and a dedicated Director who helped shape key moments in our organisation's development.

"He was highly regarded by all who worked with him, and indeed knew him.

"Our thoughts are with his family, particularly his wife Jean and three sons, and his friends."