Monday 20 January 2020

Tributes continue for Anthony Foley ahead of Munster's Champions Cup clash

A minute's silence for Anthony Foley was impeccably observed at a sold-out Thomond Park on Saturday ahead of Munster's European Champions Cup match against Glasgow.

Munster head coach Foley died in Paris last weekend, hours before the Irish province's scheduled Champions Cup opener against Racing 92, which was subsequently postponed.

Spectators in the West Stand at Thomond Park held up placards which spelt out Foley's nickname 'Axel' along with the number eight shirt, and all Munster's playing shirts had 'AXEL' sewn on their red shirts under the club crest.

The Munster Rugby Supporters' Club Choir performed 'There Is An Isle' on the pitch which was greeted with a standing ovation.

Soprano Sinead O'Brien then joined the choir to perform 'Stand Up And Fight', which the Munster faithful, decked in their traditional red, stood and sang along to.

Young players from Foley's former club Shannon RFC and students representing his school St Munchin's formed a guard of honour as the teams ran out.

Proceedings came to a standstill for a poignant minute's silence just prior to the 1pm kick-off, with similar tributes planned at all other Champions Cup and Challenge Cup fixtures this weekend.

The 42-year-old's death was also marked by a commemorative match programme. A percentage of proceeds were pledged towards a fund or charitable cause to be agreed upon by the Foley family.

Foley's funeral, attended by hundreds of mourners, took place in County Clare on Friday.

Later on Friday Munster announced, as a mark of respect to Foley, they would retire the number eight jersey for the Glasgow game. CJ Stander, playing on Saturday in Foley's position, was wearing the number 24 jersey.

Foley made the number eight position his own during a long and successful Munster career highlighted by him captaining them to European Cup final glory in 2006.

Immediately after Munster's bonus-point 38-17 win, achieved despite being a man light for 62 minutes after Keith Earls was sent off, the home squad linked arms in a large circle on the pitch and sang another rendition of 'Stand Up And Fight'.

A still-packed crowd, which numbered 25,600 during the match, joined in the chorus and then applauded the Munster squad, who were accompanied by Foley's sons Tony and Dan, on a lap of honour.

PA Media

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