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Tributes planned for Anthony Foley ahead of Munster's cup tie with Glasgow

Published 21/10/2016

Munster will pay a number of tributes to Anthony Foley at Saturday's European Champions Cup game against Glasgow
Munster will pay a number of tributes to Anthony Foley at Saturday's European Champions Cup game against Glasgow

Rassie Erasmus has set the tone for an emotional day at Thomond Park as Munster prepare to tackle European Champions Cup opponents Glasgow.

Further tributes will be made to Munster head coach Anthony Foley, who died in Paris last weekend, hours before the Irish province's scheduled Champions Cup opener against Racing 92.

Foley's funeral took place in County Clare on Friday.

And t he Munster rugby family will continue remembering the 42-year-old on Saturday, including through a commemorative match programme and a minute's silence, during which what has been described as "a special tribute" from supporters in Thomond Park's West Stand will take place.

Young players from Foley's former club Shannon RFC, meanwhile, and students representing his school St Munchin's will form a guard of honour as the teams run out.

"The great man touched so many hearts," Munster rugby director Erasmus said.

"One's life is greater than any sport or sporting occasion. However, Thomond Park held a special place in Axel's (Foley's) heart, and as difficult as it will be to play the next game - no matter the time, opposition and venue - we have an opportunity to play there this Saturday.

"That is something that is hugely important to all of us and cannot be easily dismissed.

"Playing in Thomond Park further ties us to his memory, and will be a chance for all, including our supporters and the community, to feel that connection and closeness to him at this time."

A minute's silence or applause for Foley will take place at all European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup fixtures this week.

Saracens, fresh from beating former European champions Toulon on the Cote d'Azur last Saturday, can confirm early control of Pool Three by defeating Allianz Park visitors the Scarlets on Saturday.

But they will go into the game without England lock George Kruis, who the club say has undergone minor ankle surgery and is expected to make his playing return "in a number of weeks."

The Scarlets comfortably overcame Sale Sharks six days ago, but they have not won an European away game since early 2014.

"Sport shows there are games that go against expectations," Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac said.

"You need to have a lot of guys step up. Our international boys, who played well against Sale, need to back that up and take it to a new level again. The Test players are guys we look to perform because this is the biggest stage for them at this level.

"Hopefully, everyone else chips in and does their bit, and that is what it is going to take."

Exeter, having been crushed 35-8 by French heavyweights Clermont Auvergne last Sunday, know their hopes of progressing from Pool Five will virtually disappear if they do not beat Ulster in Belfast on Saturday.

"A few things were said, but that makes it sound like there is a huge issue, and I don't want it to sound like that," Exeter head coach Rob Baxter said, in the aftermath of Clermont's Sandy Park triumph.

"As a club, individual players and as a team, I think we've perhaps spent a little bit too long looking back at last year (Exeter were Premiership runners-up and European quarter-finalists) and maybe expecting and hoping for a bit of a roll on.

"In truth, we haven't dropped completely off the pace, because we've won some games and we are fifth in the Premiership, so things are not exactly falling apart.

"What I've said in terms of a few home truths to the lads is that you can want to be a bit of an underdog team who enjoy knocking people off and who enjoy getting to places for the first time, or you can relish being a side that got to a Premiership final and when teams come up against you and bring their best, you enjoy batting that off and enjoy showing everyone you want to be a dominant side who want to be at the top tier."

Elsewhere this weekend, Northampton are boosted for the trip to Castres by welcoming back fit-again England captain Dylan Hartley following a six-week absence, while Sunday's action is dominated by two major Anglo-French clashes, with Wasps visiting Toulouse and Leicester hosting Racing 92.

As a mark of respect to Foley, Munster said the number eight jersey will be retired for the Glasgow game.

Foley made the position his own during a long and successful Munster career highlighted by him captaining them to European Cup final glory in 2006.

Munster announced that Ireland international CJ Stander, who has been selected in the number eight position against Glasgow, would wear number 24.

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