Munster scraped into this summer’s Champions Cup pool draw for 2016-17 thanks to a last-round victory over Scarlets at Thomond Park on Saturday that secured sixth place in the final Guinness Pro12 standings.
Yet the failure to reach the knockout stages in Europe for the second season in a row and inconsistent league form which has seen Munster finish as the worst of the Irish provinces for the first time has seen chief executive Garrett Fitzgerald and the Professional Games Board appoint South African Johan ‘Rassie’ Erasmus as director of rugby for next season, downgrading Foley’s role in the organisation.
Foley presided over his final game as the head of the coaching team at the weekend with assistant coach Ian Costello moving to Nottingham, technical advisor Mick O’Driscoll returning to business, and attack coach Brian Walsh is also set to leave rugby, while scrum coach Jerry Flannery’s future is also uncertain.
While Foley will remain as head coach, it will be Erasmus picking the team, implementing game-plans, choosing his backroom staff, and leading player recruitment.
Pointing to the departures of senior players James Coughlan, Paul O’Connell, and Donncha O’Callaghan, the premature retirements of Damien Varley and Felix Jones and several long-term injuries this season including to BJ Botha, Peter O’Mahony, Foley said: “A lot can change in 12 months. We went from having a very experienced team and that allowed you to have a coaching group with not a lot of experience in the professional game.
“But then in the space of a couple of months with injuries, bangs and knocks, fellas retiring and all that, you suddenly have an inexperienced group of players as well.
“Unfortunately sometimes that doesn’t work.”
Foley said he could not give any clarity to what his role would be in the new management set-up as he had not yet met Erasmus, who starts work in Munster on July 1 after his contract expires as South Africa’s high-performance general manager.
“I just want to coach to be honest with you, and that’s hopefully what will happen,” the head coach said.
“That’s what’s there to happen so until I’ve spoken to the man, until I’ve sat down and pressed flesh with him, you can’t really do anything. You can’t speculate about anything. I can’t say a whole lot about it so there isn’t a whole pile to say.
“I’d like to be coaching here in 20 years’ time. I don’t have a desire to go anywhere else. It’s not about me putting words or pressures on others.
“It’s about me sitting down and having a proper conversation with the man and seeing where we go.
“That’s important, I’m not trying to will myself on him, it’s about us and the team he wants and the management group around him making sure everyone’s on the same page.”