Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home Sport Rugby

Former Ireland rugby captain Anthony Foley dies in Paris

Adrian Rutherford and Ed Carty

Published 16/10/2016

Anthony Foley died at the team hotel in Paris
Anthony Foley died at the team hotel in Paris
Anthony Foley
Munster head coach Anthony Foley has died overnight in Paris
Anthony Foley

Tributes have been paid following the death of Munster coach and former Ireland captain Anthony Foley.

The 42-year-old died suddenly overnight in Paris and is survived by his wife Olive and three children.

Munster were in the French capital to play Racing 92 in the Champions Cup today. The game has been postponed.

A legend of Irish and Munster rugby, Foley played for Ireland 62 times, captaining his country on three occasions.

He also led Munster to their first European Cup triumph in 2006.

In all, he made 86 appearances in European competition for his province before taking over as head coach in 2014.

His death has shocked the world of rugby.

A wreath and Munster scarf was laid on the centre circle of the stadium in Paris where the team had been due to line out.

President of Ireland Michael D Higgins extended sympathies to family and friends and the rugby community.

He said Foley was one of the great leaders and figures of Irish sport in the modern era.

"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," the President said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: "Anthony was a legendary figure in Munster and Irish rugby. It is tragic to lose such a fantastic man at such a young age."

Ireland's Sports Minister Shane Ross said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with Anthony's partner, children, family, and friends at this very difficult time."

In Limerick, the home of Munster Rugby, Irish flags were to be flown at half mast on council buildings.

Mayor Kieran O'Hanlon said: "He was a giant among men and a true gentleman. He will be sadly missed."

Leinster Rugby chief executive Michael Dawson said: "Anthony was a fierce competitor and rival with Munster for many years, but he was a gentleman away from the field and great company.

"Anthony played with unwavering pride and passion for his province and country every time he took to the field."

In Limerick, the home of Munster Rugby, Irish flags were to be flown at half mast on council buildings.

Mayor Kieran O'Hanlon said: "He was a giant among men and a true gentleman. He will be sadly missed."

Leinster Rugby chief executive Michael Dawson said: "Anthony was a fierce competitor and rival with Munster for many years, but he was a gentleman away from the field and great company.

"Anthony played with unwavering pride and passion for his province and country every time he took to the field."

Foley was roundly praised for his ability to read the game of rugby in his role as a No 8, his intelligence on the field and his understated attitude.

Shane Byrne, former Irish hooker, told RTE Radio: "As a player he had this innate ability to make the right decision at the right time."

Eddie O'Sullivan, former Irish head coach, said: "Leadership is a special skill. It's about knowing what to say and the time to say it. Anthony got that."

In a mark of the shock that followed the news of Foley's death and the affection with which he was held, Munster fans in Paris held a poignant tribute at the ground with a moving rendition of the Fields of Athenry.

Supporters also queued to leave messages of condolences on an impromptu memorial at the ground.

Foley's Ireland debut came against England in the Five Nations in 1995, as it was known, complete with a try. He went on to become an established name in the Irish team between 2000 and 2005.

He retired in 2008, leaving Munster as the province's most-capped player at the time with 194 appearances.

Munster Rugby said: “It is with great sadness that we bid farewell to our coach, former captain, colleague and friend today, rest in peace Anthony Foley.”

Appearing on TV today, former Ulster rugby player Tyrone Howe fought back tears as he paid tribute to Foley.

He told Sky Sports that Foley was one of the “heartbeats of everything that’s good about Munster rugby”.

“It’s very hard to find the words,” he said.

“Forget the rugby - what I remember about Anthony is his twinkling eyes and smile and great, great sense of fun.”

Ulster Rugby said: “We’re deeply saddened by the news that Munster coach Anthony Foley has passed away.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and our friends at Munster Rugby at this tragic time.”

An IRFU statement said: “It is with deep regret that the Irish Rugby Football Union and Munster Rugby must advise of the passing overnight of Munster Rugby head coach Anthony Foley, at the team hotel in Paris.

“Munster Rugby management are liaising directly with Anthony’s family and will provide them with any assistance and support required.”The IRFU and Munster Rugby pass on our deepest sympathies to all of Anthony’s family and friends and ask for privacy for the family at this sad time.”As a mark of respect to Anthony and his family and and to support players, management and staff, Muster Rugby have requested that today’s match against Racing 92 be rescheduled.

“Munster Rugby thank Racing 92, EPCR, broadcasters and partners, and the many fans who travelled to Paris for their understanding and support at this time.”

Former Scotland international Craig Chalmers said: “Can’t believe the shocking news about Anthony Foley. One of our games truly great guys and always a Munster and Irish rugby legend.”

Ex-England international Brian Moore Tweeted: “Just heard the terrible news of the death of Munster’s Anthony Foley - thoughts with his family - very sad indeed.”

World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper said: Shocked by the tragic news of Anthony Foley. All at World Rugby send our heart-felt condolences and thoughts to family, friends and Munster.”

EPCR chairman Simon Halliday said: “On behalf of EPCR, I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to Anthony’s family and to everyone  associated with Munster and Irish rugby. He was a magnificent player and a superb coach and he will be sorely missed.”

 

 

Online Editors

How to Complain

If you have a complaint about the editorial content of the Belfast Telegraph or Sunday Life then contact the Editor here. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation here

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph