Anthony Foley ‘a gentleman and one of the greats’

Some of the world’s best rugby players have paid tribute to Anthony Foley, not just for his prowess on the field of battle but also for the person he was.
Anthony Foley ‘a gentleman and one of the greats’

Australian legend Michael Lynagh tweeted: “Just received the news of Anthony Foley passing. I am shocked and saddened. He was a great rugby man; but most importantly a great person.”

Ireland star Brian O’Driscoll used social media to say: “Can’t quite believe it. So incredibly sad. My thoughts are with Olive, his boys & and his extended family.”

New Zealand winger Joe Rokocoko said he too was thinking of Anthony Foley’s family and about Munster rugby during this difficult time.

“Our prayers are with you all,” he added.

England World Cup winner Jonny Wilkinson wrote: “How incredibly sad to hear about the passing of the great Anthony Foley. With enormous respect and deepest sympathy for his family.”

Sky Sports had been preparing to air the match when news of Anthony Foley’s death came through.

Its lead rugby pundit, Stuart Barnes, said: “This is one of the great men of recent Irish rugby. This is a European Champions Cup day and Anthony would probably think of it as a Heineken Cup day.

"When there was the first 15 years of this tournament completed, we sat down and asked what is the best team of them all and Anthony Foley beat the likes of Lawrence Dallaglio to be the No 8.

"Along with men like Paul O’Connell and Ronan O’Gara, now coaching at Racing 92, Foley was a fulcrum point in that greatest of Munster teams.”

Away from rugby, the Football Association of Ireland said the passing of one Irish rugby’s greats had come as a huge shock to everyone connected to Irish sport.

“The FAI would like to pay its deepest condolences to Anthony’s family and friends, to all of his colleagues in Munster Rugby and his connections in the Irish Rugby Football Union, along with his many, many supporters and admirers,” it said.

“Anthony had many friends and supporters in the football world and he was admired for his extraordinary attitude and commitment on the field of play. Anthony’s passing has left a deep void in the world of sport.”

Finance Minister and Limerick native Michael Noonan said he was very shocked at the news, having met Anthony Foley and his family in Killaloe, Co Clare, three weeks ago when he was opening a sports facility in the town.

“I have known the Foleys for a long number of years. Anthony was a perfect gentleman and one of the greatest players to put on the Munster and Irish jerseys.”

Enda Kenny said he was absolutely shocked on hearing of the untimely passing of the Munster head coach.

“Anthony was a legendary figure in Munster and Irish rugby. It is tragic to lose such a fantastic man at such a young age. My thoughts are with his family and his club mates at this awful time.”

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