— Exeter Chiefs (@ExeterChiefs) October 16, 2016
Tributes have been pouring in for Munster and Ireland rugby legend Anthony “Axle” Foley who died suddenly this morning in Paris.
Munster Rugby CEO Garrett Fitzgerald said: “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.
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,’ said Mr Fitzgerald.
“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,” he added.
“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,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
As fans paid tribute in Paris, supporters have also been leaving flowers at the gates of Thomond Park.
— Dan Mooney (@danielmoonbags) October 16, 2016
President Michael D Higgins also paid tribute to Axle.
“It is with great sadness that I heard of the sudden death of Anthony Foley, the Munster rugby team’s head coach and one of the great figures of Irish sport in the modern era.
Anthony Foley excelled from a young age and made a huge contribution to the successes of Munster and Ireland, in both his playing and coaching careers.
Recognised as a great leader both on and off the pitch, he captained the Heineken Cup winning Munster team and represented his country at all levels, including playing 62 times for the senior team, and as captain on three occasions.
He was regarded with great respect and deep affection not just among the Munster rugby fans but by all those interested in Irish sports and those with whom they interacted abroad.
While news of his death will be received with shock by all those in the rugby and sports world, it is of course first and foremost a great tragedy for his family and close friends.
As President of Ireland, and as Patron of the IRFU, I offer them and Munster rugby my deepest sympathies.”
The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, TD, along with the Minister of State with responsibility for Sport and Tourism, and TD for Limerick County, Patrick O’Donovan, today expressed their sadness on hearing of the tragic passing of Anthony Foley in Paris today. Munster’s current Head Coach, Anthony served Munster and Ireland brilliantly during his career.
Minister Ross said “Our thoughts and prayers are with Anthony’s partner, children, family, and friends at this very difficult time.”
Limerick TD, Minister O’Donovan said “Anthony will be very fondly remembered for the joy and pleasure that he brought to the people of Limerick, Munster and Ireland. He will be remembered for his heroics and bravery on the field and his legacy will live long with his extraordinary achievements in caps and tries, both at home and in Europe. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilis.”
— BenchWarmers (@BeWarmers) October 16, 2016
An Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: “Like everyone else in the country, I am absolutely shocked on hearing of the untimely passing of Munster Head Coach, Anthony Foley.
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.”