'The whole rugby family of Ireland is in mourning' - Munster coach Anthony Foley has died suddenly in France
Published 16/10/2016 | 13:51
Munster coach Anthony Foley (42) has died suddenly in France.
Munster were in Paris to play Racing 92 in the Champions Cup today and that clash has been postponed.
Alone on the couch with Jess.Heartbroken.We have lost an incredible man. Too sad to tweet further.. sleep well Axel. We love you..xxx— Ronan O Gara (@RonanOGara10) October 16, 2016
The IRFU confirmed the news today.
"It is with deep regret that the Irish Rugby Football Union and Munster Rugby must advise of the passing overnight of Munster Rugby head coach Anthony Foley, at the team hotel in Paris," read a statement from the IRFU.
"Munster Rugby management are liaising directly with Anthony's family and will provide them with any assistance and support required.
"The IRFU and Munster Rugby pass on our deepest sympathies to all of Anthony's family and friends and ask for privacy for the family at this sad time.
"As a mark of respect to Anthony and his family and and to support players, management and staff, Munster Rugby have requested that today's match against Racing 92 be rescheduled.
"Munster Rugby thank Racing 92, EPCR, broadcasters and partners, and the many fans who travelled to Paris for their understanding and support at this time."
Rugby commentator Tom McGurk said: "It was a great leader - he was the heart and soul of that Munster team. It's absolutely shocking.
"A great great Munster rugby family - his father Brendan played for Ireland, his sister Rosie played for the Ireland women team.
"He went from captaincy to coaching of Munster. The whole rugby family of Ireland and across Europe is in mourning.
"My deepest sympathies to his wife and young children.
""He was a tremendous leader and a massive, massive loss to Irish rugby.
"He was always very friendly, always up for a bit of craic. Always at the heart of it and had huge respect and was a really hard man in his physicality and in his attitude.
"I think he brought to that Munster pack a sense of steel and a sense of strength and naturally he emerged as a leader and when he captained the Irish side as well he brought that same leadership.
"He died in a hotel in Paris. Munster were there playing this afternoon against Racing. It's ironic that the team coach there is Ronan O'Gara, a close friend on that team."
Former Ireland player Donal Lenihan told RTE Radio 1: "He epitomises what Munster rugby is all about. It's absolutely shocking. There's nothing but shock in the air. At 43 years of age, you don't expect something like this to happen.
"There was rumours flying around - sadly it was confirmed. People were afraid to say anything until there was official confirmation. Other than that we have no other information.
"There was no way Munster could play the game. A large Munster contingent silently standing here.
"I saw him in Cork and he was looking well. I though he was enjoying his responsibilities in his Munster role. What happened is just absolutely tragic.
"He was steeped in Munster rugby, he was a skilful all rounder but rugby was always going to be his first love. He's had an unbroken involvement with Minster from an early age.
"You think first of his wife and kids. It will take a long time to recover from this."
Nicknamed Axel, the no-nonsense back-row made his debut for Munster against Swansea in November 1995, the first time the club played in the then Heineken Cup.
From Clare, Foley was a firm favourite with the fans and a key figure in the Munster side that lifted the cup twice in three years in 2006 and in 2008.
A record breaker, he scored 39 tries in the famous red jersey of his province and won 62 caps for Ireland.
His father Brendan was part of the Munster team that famously defeated the All Blacks in 1978, and his sister Rosie was a member of the Irish women's squad.
Tributes flooded in following the announcement of his sudden death.
Frankie Sheahan, a former Irish and Munster star, posted a recent photo of him and others celebrating former Irish star Mick Galwey's birthday.
"Distraught at the tragic news of Anthony Foley, great friend, teammate & legend. Super form last weekend at Mick Galwey's 50th. Incomprehensible," he said.
Sonia O'Sullivan said his death was "sad and shocking".
Brian Moore, whose final days as England hooker overlapped with Foley's early career, said: "Just heard the terrible news of the death of Munster's Anthony Foley - thoughts with his family - very sad indeed."
Clubs across Ireland and England added sympathy messages.
The European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) described Foley as a legend.
Chairman Simon Halliday said: "On behalf of EPCR, I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to Anthony's family and to everyone associated with Munster and Irish rugby.
"He was a magnificent player and a superb coach and he will be sorely missed."
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