Ex-Irish U20 star pays touching French tribute to 'lifelong hero' Axel Foley
It wasn't just in Chicago that tributes were paid to Anthony Foley at the weekend, with Irish U-20 star Kelvin Brown wearing new boots with 'Axel' inscribed on them as he made his debut in France, writes John Fallon.
Brown, a product of Foley's club Shannon RFC, made his debut for Aurillac in ProD2 in France and honoured the memory of his hero by wearing the special boots.
Brown, whose mother and father's families are steeped in Shannon history, said that he grew up admiring Foley.
Brown feared his hopes of a career in professional rugby were over when he was failed to secure a place in the Munster academy this season, having been in the sub-academy up to then.
But the back-rower refused to give up on his dream and was drafted in on a one-year contract by Aurillac coach Jeremy Davidson - the former Irish international - after one of their flankers was ruled out for the year through injury.
Brown made his debut off the bench away to Oyonnax and while Aurillac went down 24-19 to a late converted try, Brown was pleased to honour the occasion by paying tribute to Foley.
"I got a new pair of boots for the occasion to have my lifelong hero and friend with me when I'm on the pitch," said former Ard Scoil Ris pupil Brown, a member of the Irish side who reached the final of the World Rugby U-20 Championship for the first time in June before going down to hosts England.
Aurillac are now two points off the top in ProD2. They host Biarritz this weekend.