As soon as Ian Humphreys signed for Ulster in 2008 the comparisons with his 72-times-Irish-capped older brother David, began. Humphreys joined Ulster from Leicester Tigers whom he opted to sign for instead of a accepting a development contract with Ulster in 2005.
The former Ballymena Academy schoolboy had captained Ireland during the Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament in March as well as guiding Tigers to a famous 13-6 win over Munster at Thomond Park – that was the first time Munster had been defeated at home in a European competition.
Humphreys had a flavour for it. During his first stint with Ulster from 2008-2012, Ulster’s form lay entirely at the feet of the out half, perhaps unfairly as he often copped slack for things that were out of his control.
As mentioned in the piece on Timoci Nagusa, 2008-2009 was not a great season at the province, however Ulster did record a famous victory that often gets forgotten about – five try rout of Heineken Cup finalists and Magners League winners Munster on their home turf.
At the forefront was Ian Humphreys with three try assists and a near faultless display from the boot. Two of the assists were from crosskicks while the third resulted after a Garryowen when the clock was red at the end of the first half. Rumour has it that the IRFU employ him to run fire drills in Thomond Park as the stadium emptied in record time that night.
With front foot ball he was an exceptional talent who was excellent at manipulating defenders and creating spaces. Reversing the play became something of a trademark for him as seen in the two clips below.
Ian Humphreys scoring his first try for Ulster in his second appearance in 2008.
Ian Humphreys setting up Simon Danielli for a try against Edinburgh in 2010
Not known for his defensive capabilities, he was a fantastic player to have when playing with a dominant pack and on the front foot. The ability to fashion chances out of nothing brought about many moments for the supporters as well as landing the crucial kick to send Ulster into the quarter finals of the Heineken Cup in 2011, the first time since 1999.
He returned to England after the 2011-2012 season, playing two seasons at London Irish before ending his career at Ulster. In total he amassed 745 points in 113 appearances for Ulster as well as 7 appearances for the Irish Wolfhounds.
He is now an agent for players with Rob Lyttle, James Hume and Robert Baloucoune currently on his books.