'CEO, colleague, visionary, and, above all, a friend': Tributes paid to Mr Munster, Garrett Fitzgerald

Tributes have been paid to Garrett Fitzgerald, the Munster Rugby CEO who oversaw the province's greatest days. He died on Friday, aged 65.

'CEO, colleague, visionary, and, above all, a friend': Tributes paid to Mr Munster, Garrett Fitzgerald

Tributes have been paid to Garrett Fitzgerald, the Munster Rugby CEO who oversaw the province's greatest days. He died on Friday, aged 65.

Fitzgerald served for 20 years as Munster CEO, until his retirement last June. During that time, Munster was transformed into two-time European Cup champions, with redeveloped stadiums at Thomond and Musgrave Park, and a High Performance Centre at UL.

He coached Munster to a famous victory over Australia in 1992 and Christians to five Munster Schools Senior Cup titles, where he also won one as a player.

The people who played a part in those successes paid tribute to ‘Mr Munster’.

Peter Stringer: "Incredibly sad news to hear of the passing of Garrett Fitzgerald. A man central to what Munster Rugby has become. CEO, colleague, visionary and above all, a friend. Thoughts and prayers with his family. RIP."

Ronan O'Gara: "Rest well Garrett. Thoughts and prayers with your lovely family and friends and all in Munster rugby."

He linked to a tweet from the time of Fitzgerald's retirement, saying: "Thank you Garrett Fitzgerald. You enabled me and many other Munster players to dream big. I thank you. You changed the landscape for every rugby player in Ireland. #Munsterleadsothersfollow..."

World Cup-winning South Africa and former Munster head coach Rassie Erasmus: "I learnt so much on and off the field from you and Munster!!! Rest in peace Garrett Fitzgerald!!!"

Jerry Flannery: "Since I was 18 years of age Garrett was a consistent positive influence on my life. What he has done for @munsterrugby is incredible. He lived the values of the province, always putting people first. A truly great man, he will be dearly missed."

Alan Quinlan told Off The Ball: "He had to innovate and be involved in a lot of change over the years and I think he was the driving force behind a lot of success there and it is very, very sad news.

"There was a great bond and a connection not just between the players which we all speak about but with the management and the people behind the scenes and Garrett was the one who was driving that.

"I remember in 2006, tears in his eyes after we won that Heineken Cup and it was obviously very emotional for everybody because there was a long journey there and Garrett was the one who was the driving force behind that.

"As CEO he had to make tough calls at times but he handled himself in a really, really decent manner with everybody."

BJ Botha: "A man that epitomised what Munster rugby stood for, thanks for all the great chats Garrett, you left your mark on all of us, RIP."

Simon Zebo: "Incredibly sad news.. A true Munster man, My thoughts are with his family and everyone at @Munsterrugby."

Denis Fogarty: "Another great gone. So so sad. My deepest condolences to the Fitzgerald family. Rest in Peace. #munsterrugby #munsteralways #Brotherhood #gonebutneverforgotten."

Former Munster forwards coach Laurie Fisher: "Devastated to hear of the passing of long time @Munsterrugby CEO Garrett Fitzgerald. A defining figure in their great history. Treated my family as his own during our time in Cork. Truly wonderful man. Much love to his family he leaves behind. The world poorer for his passing."

Denis Hurley: "You will be sorely missed and my heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to Áine and your family. Rest well, you’ve given more than enough to us all #thankyou #MunsterFamily."

Johne Murphy: "Extremely sad news to wake up to this morning. Thoughts and prayers are with Aine and all his family. Rest in peace Garrett."

Ian Keatley: "Very sad to see this, thinking of Garreth and his family today. Thanks for everything Garrett, Rest In Peace."

Anthony Horgan: "His contribution to @Munsterrugby was immense. Rest well Garrett."

A minute's silence was held before Saturday's PRO14 games involving Connacht, Leinster, and Ulster.

Champions Cup organisers EPCR said in a statement: "As a long-standing and highly-respected administrator of one of European club rugby’s most iconic clubs, Garrett combined all the skills he had accumulated in his previous roles in teaching and finance, with his acute knowledge of all aspects of the game from his time as a player and coach, to lead Munster Rugby for two decades.

"A quintessential ‘rugby man’ who loved the game and his province, Garrett will be greatly missed."

Former Ireland Women's head coach Philip Doyle said: "A huge loss for Irish and Munster rugby always so helpful to the women's team during my time RIP Garrett Fitzgerald"

Paul Wallace: "What a great loss to UCC/Munster/Ireland rugby - pleasure to have been coached by Garett. True gent & rugby to the core RIP you will be missed but not forgotten."

Gordon D'Arcy: "Very sad to hear of Garrett Fitzgerald’s passing. A key man in a historic rivalry I love to this day. Thoughts are with your family, friends & Munster rugby"

Munster's Head of Enterprise Enda Lynch: "Incredibly fortunate to have worked with and learned so much from him for a number of years. Rest well Garrett."

Referee Nigel Owens: "My sincere and deepest sympathy to all the family. He was a good man."

Bernard Jackman: "Was always a pleasure to meet him and chat about rugby and life. May he Rest In Peace."

Tipperary hurling manager Liam Sheedy: "What an absolute gent my thoughts and prayers are with Aine and all of his family and friends. He achieved so much in life and what a legacy he leaves behind from his time in Munster Rugby. Rest In Peace Garrett."

Shane Byrne: "Such sad news. Worked with him on many different teams over the years, always a gent. May he rest in peace, thoughts are with his family and friends."

Munster Rugby Supporters Club: "A legend and one of the defining figures of Munster Rugby. Our thoughts and prayers are with Garrett's family and friends tonight. RIP Garrett."

The making of Munster

In November, Garrett sat down with Tony Leen to chat through his life and times in rugby. You can listen to the two-part interview below.

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