'An unbelievable scenario' - Munster fan overwhelmed by 'generosity' of Racing 92 fan who opened his home to him
It's a very poignant day in the history of Munster rugby as the province return to Paris for their rescheduled Champions Cup clash with Racing 92. The original fixture was postponed following the tragic death of head coach Anthony Foley.
Munster fans have travelled in their thousands to the French capital to cheer on their team and to pay homage to 'Axel'.
The Munster faithful won't be the only ones honouring the Heineken Cup-winning captain today. Racing 92 fans have already shown their compassion and solidarity.
Member of their supporters' group have opened their homes to Munster fans in a truly touching gesture and will join with members of the Red Army to form a guard of honour as both team buses enter the Stade Yves-Du-Manoir
One of the recipients of this heartwarming hospitality was Munster fan Tony Fitzpatrick. He was contacted by Racing supporter Xavier Radisson yesterday and the pair have been sparking up a friendship ever since they met this morning.
"It's a kind of unbelievable scenario because he emailed me yesterday evening and told me that he was going to pick me up at the airport," the 51-year-old told Independent.ie.
"He brought me into his apartment this morning and now we are waiting for a crowd of people to have a bite to eat.
"It's part of their supporter's group but at this moment, there are probably more Munster fans here than Racing fans.
"It undoubtedly proves the kind of gestures human beings are capable of.
The world of sport in general is brilliant but rugby has a slightly different edge to it. The way I've been treated since I got here this morning and the stories I've heard from other Munster fans... it's pure generosity and respect.
"It's a very poignant situation we're involved in because there is a game to play but there is also the fact that poor Axel died on our previous trip to Paris.
"The Parisians have shown us their compassionate side.
"Munster are looking for a result but at the back of it, the result doesn't really mean anything.
"The world of rugby took note and they really appreciate what Anthony Foley represented as well.
"Axel's family are foremost in our thoughts."
Racing 92 players will don red t-shirts with Foley's name on them for their warm-up. Two banners will be unfurled in the stands; one ready 'AXEL'. with the other saying 'Red Army welcome back'. Red smoke will also be released during a minute's applause ahead of the game.