Repatriation flight given special call-signs in honour of Anthony Foley

By Stephen Rogers and Pat Flynn

The Ryanair corporate jet which flew Anthony Foley’s body home from Paris did so under special call-signs to denote the Munster coach’s birth year as well as his famous number as a player.

The Boeing 737-700 jet which had been offered to the Foley family for the repatriation flight left Shannon at 12.55pm carrying around 25 of his relatives along with former team mates and personal friends, Paul O'Connell and Mick Galwey, as well as senior Munster Rugby executives.

That flight was given the special call-sign FR-1973, denoting Anthony’s birth year.

The hearse carrying the remains of Anthony Foley pictured leaving Shannon Airport. Pic. Brian Arthur

The call-sign for the return was equally as significant. FR-8 represented the number 8 jersey the back row wore for his beloved Munster and for Ireland.

As the flight was travelling to Paris to bring the rugby legend home, one of its new generation of back row forwards, Peter O’Mahony, fought a tough battle with his emotions to put into words just what the coach's death meant to himself and his club.

After bravely composing himself he said: "The amount that we have lost now that he has gone is incredible - the rugby knowledge and brain, the man and the friend and coach and brother that we have lost... It's mad."

Speaking at a press conference to confirm that, despite their grief, the squad and management will press ahead with this weekend’s Champions Cup tie against Glasgow, the distraught captain said: “I'm not going to do him justice here. It's all the words I can say, to be honest."

The club’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus said of this weekend’s game: “He (Foley) would never want us to say the game is secondary - it’s not the man he was - but it will be. It’s all about Anthony now and this weekend. It will be for a long time raw, so it will be about Anthony.”

"Although an Irish and Munster rugby hero and a great friend of ours, this time it's about a husband, father, son and brother, and a fallen friend. Let us not forget that," he added.

Yet further evidence of the high regard in which Anthony Foley and Munster are held across the rugby world came with news that fans of fellow rugby club stalwart Clermont Auvergne, who have their own Champions Cup match against Bordeaux this weekend, have called on all Clermont supporters to wear Munster flags and colours to the game.

Team Jaunes&Bleu said the “red army” had a special place in the hearts of the supporters of the "yellow army".

“We have all been touched by the death of Anthony Foley, the coach of the Munster,” they said. “In order to show our support to our Irish friends, we invite you to come to the Michelin with a scarf or a flag of Munster (for those who possess) during the game on Saturday.”

They even published a print-out of the Munster flag for those who did not have any Munster paraphernalia to print out and bring to their game.

Email Updates

Receive our lunchtime briefing straight to your inbox

Related Articles

Anthony Foley’s sons presented with Maori jersey after Haka tribute

Axel Foley remembered in son's #8Masses4no8 campaign

Munster seal derby comeback with late drop goal as Ulster pay tribute to Anthony Foley

Ronan O'Gara reveals how 'great rugby moment' helped players come to terms with Foley loss

More in this Section

Northampton stand down George North until independent head assessment

Toby Alderweireld returns to Spurs squad for Champions League clash

Leicester's Dan Cole out for trip to Munster; Manu Tuilagi could start

Colin Montgomerie backs 'right choice' Thomas Bjorn as Europe's Ryder Cup captain


Today's Stories

Aidan O’Mahony adamant Eamonn Fitzmaurice is the right man for Kerry job

Pádraig Harrington: Thomas Bjorn is a leader, not a liability

Cork City's squad-building ‘nearly done’

Conor Murray in a good place to face massive challenges

Lifestyle

Full disclosure in Oliver Stone's new film about CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden

What to buy for the most awkward people in your life this Christmas

Children's hospice makes sure families experience a truly precious Christmas

Making Cents: PCPs are the deals for those looking for new wheels

More From The Irish Examiner