Tuesday 26 September 2017

Peter O'Mahony pays tribute to Anthony Foley as Munster match gets go-ahead

Munster captain Peter O'Mahony broke down in tears while paying tribute to Anthony Foley
Munster captain Peter O'Mahony broke down in tears while paying tribute to Anthony Foley

Munster captain Peter O'Mahony paid a tearful tribute to Anthony Foley after tournament organisers announced that the Irish province's European Champions Cup pool game against Glasgow will be played as scheduled in Limerick on Saturday.

Head coach Foley died at the Munster team hotel in Paris last weekend before the scheduled Champions Cup match against Racing 92, which was postponed as a result.

European Professional Club Rugby said the decision for Saturday's fixture to go ahead had been made "after close consultation with the Munster management."

Back row O'Mahony broke down as he tried to put into words what the late coach meant to him and the club.

"He was a man that wanted a Munster jersey win," he said.

"I'm not going to do him justice here. It's all the words I can say to be honest.

"The amount that we have lost now that he has gone is incredible - the rugby knowledge and brain, the man and the friend and coach and brother that we have lost. It's mad."

Foley's remains were flown back to Ireland on Wednesday and brought to the family home in Killaloe before reposing in St Flannan's during Thursday.

The 42-year-old's funeral will take place in County Clare on Friday.

In a statement, EPCR said: " EPCR can officially confirm that the Munster Rugby v Glasgow Warriors Champions Cup, Round 2 match will be played as scheduled at Thomond Park on Saturday (kick-off 1300).

"The decision was made after close consultation with the Munster management.

"At this particularly difficult time following the passing of Anthony Foley, EPCR would like to once again convey its deepest sympathies to the Foley family and to everyone at Munster Rugby.

"EPCR has requested that a minute's silence or a minute's applause in Anthony's memory be observed at all Round 2 matches in the Champions Cup and the Challenge Cup."

A French coroner said on Tuesday that Foley died due to a heart condition which led to a build-up of fluid in his lungs.

Former back-row forward Foley played 62 times for Ireland, led Munster to their first European Cup victory in 2006 and was central to the province's repeat success two years later.

He scored 39 tries for his province and made 86 appearances in European competition before taking on backroom roles from 2009. He was named head coach in 2014.

Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus, speaking at a Munster press conference on Wednesday afternoon, was asked about the decision to play the match and the planned tribute for Foley.

He said: "We don't want to miss this opportunity for him.

"It's a tough choice. It's not easy either way but we don't want to miss this opportunity.

"Although an Irish and Munster rugby hero and a great friend of ours, this time it's about a husband, father, son and brother and a fallen friend. Let us not forget that.

"He would never want us to say that the game is secondary, it's just not the man he was, but it will be."

Glasgow head coach Gregor Townsend first came across Foley when they faced each other as schoolboys.

"It has been a tough week for world rugby," said the former Scotland player.

"You saw the reaction from all over the world, not just in rugby but in sport."

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