Garrett Fitzgerald: ‘Axel the embodiment of Munster Rugby’

Anthony Foley was last night described as “the embodiment of Munster Rugby” whose legacy would live on for generations to come.

Head coach and former European Cup-winning captain Foley, 42, passed away suddenly at Munster’s team hotel in Paris as the province prepared to face French champions Racing 92 in a Champions Cup pool game.

The game was postponed by organisers EPCR, who must now find a date in an extremely tight rugby calendar to reschedule the game.

Not that that will be concerning anyone at this moment as rugby continues to mourn one of the great players of his generation. Nor, it is understood, will Munster Rugby be rushed into making a decision over whether to play in Saturday’s scheduled Champions Cup home game against Glasgow Warriors.

Munster Rugby chief executive Garrett Fitzgerald issued a moving statement last night in tribute to the former Munster and Ireland back-row forward.

“We are shocked and deeply saddened by today’s news and the sudden passing of a Munster Rugby great, our Head Coach, former player, colleague and friend Anthony Foley,” Fitzgerald said.

“Our immediate thoughts are with Axel’s family, his wife Olive and his two sons Tony and Dan, father Brendan who is here in Paris with us, mother Sheila, sisters Orla and Rosie and the extended Foley family.

“Anthony was the embodiment of Munster Rugby and dedicated his life to the game he loved. From St Munchin’s to Shannon, Munster and then Ireland, Anthony was a true rugby great. Widely known for his extensive knowledge of the game and rugby brain, Axel brought so much to the province as a player and then a coach.

“A very popular figure off the field, he was an incredibly likeable character with a great sense of humour and he lived life to the full. Always maintaining his strong family connections to his native Killaloe in Clare, Axel was hugely proud of his community and where he came from.

“My earliest memory of Axel is when he was playing number 8 for St Munchin’s in his teens and the hunger and passion he showed even then was evident to all.

“Never a man to back down from a challenge, Anthony’s determination on the field was mirrored by his actions off it, always honest in everything he did. His legacy will live on in the next generation and beyond.

“Anthony will be sorely missed and the thoughts from everyone in the game are with his family at this time.”

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