Munster CEO Garrett Fitzgerald has paid tribute to the late Anthony Foley, labelling him the “embodiment of Munster Rugby”.
Foley, 42, died overnight in Paris as Munster prepared for Sunday’s Champions Cup clash against Racing 92.
He was head coach of Munster and also made over 200 appearances for the province, captaining them to their 2006 Heineken Cup triumph.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by today’s news and the sudden passing of a Munster Rugby great, our head coach, former player, colleague and friend Anthony Foley,” Fitzgerald said.
“Our immediate thoughts are with Axel’s family, his wife Olive and his two sons Tony and Dan, father Brendan who is here in Paris with us, mother Sheila, sisters Orla and Rosie and the extended Foley family.
“Anthony was the embodiment of Munster Rugby and dedicated his life to the game he loved. From St Munchin’s to Shannon, Munster and then Ireland, Anthony was a true rugby great.”
Sunday’s game was postponed and the Munster fans sang an emotional rendition of ‘Fields of Athenry’ outside Stade Yves-du-Manoir in tribute to the late Foley.
— Racing 92 (@racing92) October 16, 2016
The Munster faithful signed a book of condolence as they paid tribute to the man who made such an impact at the province both in a playing and coaching capacity.
“Widely known for his extensive knowledge of the game and rugby brain, Axel brought so much to the province as a player and then a coach,” Fitzgerald added.
“A very popular figure off the field, he was an incredibly likeable character with a great sense of humour and he lived life to the full.
A Munster fan signs a book of condolence after hearing the news of the death of Anthony Foley. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
“Always maintaining his strong family connections to his native Killaloe in Clare, Axel was hugely proud of his community and where he came from.
“My earliest memory of Axel is when he was playing number 8 for St Munchin’s in his teens and the hunger and passion he showed even then was evident to all.
“Never a man to back down from a challenge, Anthony’s determination on the field was mirrored by his actions off it, always honest in everything he did. His legacy will live on in the next generation and beyond.
“Anthony will be sorely missed and the thoughts from everyone in the game are with his family at this time.”
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