The EPCR European Player of the Year award has been renamed after Munster legend Anthony Foley, writes Stephen Barry.
Foley died on the opening weekend of this year’s Champions Cup in Paris, where he was preparing to lead Munster into action against Racing 92.
And now, as Saracens and Clermont prepare to do battle for honours on the final day of the competition, it’s been announced that the Anthony Foley Memorial Trophy will be presented to the tournament’s best player.
The decision to commission the trophy to honour Foley’s major contribution to European rugby as a player and coach was agreed with the Foley family and Munster Rugby.
This year’s winner will be announced after tonight’s final at Murrayfield, having been decided by a combination of public vote and a panel of experts.
Munster’s current number 8 CJ Stander is one of the five nominees for the trophy, alongside fellow Ireland international Garry Ringrose of Leinster.
The other three shortlisted will be in action today; Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje of Saracens, and Clermont’s Camille Lopez.
The winner will also receive a medal and one million air miles from sponsors Turkish Airlines.
“This is a fitting way to honour Anthony's memory,” said EPCR Chairman, Simon Halliday.
“He was a great player and a great leader as well as a galvanising force in Munster's European odyssey.
“I would like to thank the Foley family and Munster Rugby for allowing us create this trophy for now and for the future.”
As a player, Foley was a two-time European Cup winner, including as captain for Munster’s first success in 2006. He remains the top-scoring forward in the competition’s history with 23 tries from 86 appearances.