Kirkpatrick played 13 Tests and 43 games in all for the Springboks from 1953-61.
His debut was at fly-half but made most of his internationals as a centre, touring New Zealand (1956) and Britain and France (1960-61).
Known as "Kirkie," he also stepped in as coach for South Africa's 1974 tour of France after the Boks had fallen to a famous series loss at home to Willie John McBride's British Lions.
His greatest achievement was as a coach was leading the unfancied Griqualand West to the 1970 Currie Cup title over Northern Transvaal, the defending champions.
He was appointed SA Rugby's director of coaching in 1978 and also became a coach at the famous Stellenbosch University near Cape Town, an institution renowned for producing Springboks.
SARU said Kirkpatrick still coached the university's under-19 team at the time of his death in his sleep on Sunday at his nearby home.
"South African rugby has lost one of its greatest influences," SARU chief executive Jurie Roux said. "He was an incredible coach and friend to some of South Africa's greatest players but, what set him apart, was the fact that he gave every player the same attention."
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