Friday 26 May 2017

Munster star Bleyendaal presents Man of the Match award to Anthony Foley's family in touching display of gratitude

Will Slattery

Will Slattery

Anthony Foley and Munster out-half Tyler Bleyendaal had a special relationship.

The recently departed coach was in charge of Munster when the province signed the Kiwi out-half in 2014 but a neck injury kept the new recruit on the sidelines for a substantial period.

Read more: Anthony Foley's brave young son has started an inspiring campaign to remember his father

When Foley was pressed at the time as to when Bleyendaal would return to action, he struck a compassionate note with the media.

“We as a club need to look after the player and it’s not a piece of meat we are dealing with,” Foley said.

“It’s a human being, so there is a human side to this that we need to manage, and that is what Munster is about, it’s about the people.

“If a player has committed to us in terms of contract we need to make sure we are looking after this player as well.”

The bond between the two has clearly extended beyond their time together at Munster. The New Zealander won Man of the Match in Munster's emotional farewell to Foley at Thomond Park last Saturday against Glasgow, with Bleyendaal finally reaching the heights that Axel imagined for him when he first arrived.

In a small but touching token of gratitude, Bleyendaal has since travelled to Killaloe and given his crystal Man of the Match award to Foley's family.

Also, Anthony Foley's eldest son has started a campaign urging people to attend mass to remember their lost loved ones in the build-up to Christmas.

Inspired by the rapturous send off given to the Munster and Ireland legend by the Thomond Park supporters last weekend, Tony Foley (11) came up with the idea to start the #8masses4no8 campaign on Saturday night after Munster beat Glasgow.

The idea behind the campaign is for people to go to mass on each of the next eight Sundays and light a candle for a loved one, or for Anthony Foley. Tony is hoping people will take photos of the lit candles and post them on the Axel Foley Memorial Facebook page.

The eight Sundays start this weekend on October 30th, which is Anthony Foley's birthday, and will run all the way up until Christmas time.

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