Lee, Samuel Alexander (‘Sam’) (1871–1944), rugby player, was born 15 April 1871 in Belfast, son of Thomas Lee, labourer, and Agnes Lee. He began his rugby career as a student at Royal Belfast Academical Institution (1886–90), captaining the school team that won the Ulster schools cup in 1890. He was also captain of the school cricket team (1888, 1889). In 1890, while still at school, he was selected as a reserve for the Irish team, and won his first international cap in 1891. During 1891–8 he played nineteen times for Ireland in games against England, Scotland, and Wales, captaining the team in 1893, 1896, and 1897, and playing on the teams that won the triple crown (1894) and the international championship (1896). Regarded as one of the best back-line players of the time, he played in the centre of an impressive Irish three-quarters along with Willie Gardiner, Lucius Gwynn (qv), and H. G. Wells. When he retired from international rugby in 1898, he and C. V. Rooke (qv) were the most capped Irish players at the time.
He played club rugby with the North of Ireland Football Club (NIFC) in Belfast, with which he won six consecutive Ulster senior cups between 1893 and 1899. After retiring as an international player, he was an Irish selector (1898–1900), and president of the IRFU (1899–1900). In 1904 he refereed the international match between Scotland and England. A dispute in the IRFU during the 1920s over playing rugby matches on Sundays was resolved by Lee's proposal that the local branches of the union could grant special permission to competing clubs to allow them to play on Sundays. He died 4 January 1944 in Coondara, Donaghadee, Co. Down.