Rugby

Five Years On, Munster And Irish Rugby Paid Fitting Tribute To The Late Anthony Foley

Five Years On, Munster And Irish Rugby Paid Fitting Tribute To The Late Anthony Foley

Five years ago today, the Irish sporting world was stunned by the sudden death of Munster rugby legend and head coach Anthony Foley. On Saturday night at Thomond Park, the Munstermen paid a poignant tribute to their former coach and captain ahead of their URC clash with Connacht.

Munster pay tribute to Anthony Foley five years on from his passing

Foley played for Munster for 13 years from 1995 to 2008, captaining the province to the 2006 Heineken Cup. After his playing career, he moved to coaching, and in 2014 he became head coach of Munster.

Ahead of their Heineken Cup pool game against Racing 92 in Paris in 2016, Foley died in his sleep after heart issues caused him to suffer a pulmonary edema. The Irish sporting world ground to a halt to pay respects to Axel, with moving tributes before Munster's next game against Glasgow, and before Ireland's historic victory over the All Blacks in Glasgow.

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22 October 2016; Munster's Simon Zebo sheds a tear as he stands alongside captain Peter O'Mahony during a minute's silence in memory of the late Munster Rugby head coach Anthony Foley before the Champions Cup match between Munster and Glasgow Warriors at Thomond Park in Limerick. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

On Saturday night, five years to the day since Foley's passing, Munster took on Connacht in Thomond Park in a United Rugby Championship game, and tribute was once again paid to Foley in the buildup to kick-off.

Connacht captain Jack Carty presented Munster captain Peter O'Mahony with a Connacht jersey emblazoned with Foley's number 8 on the back in a pre-match ceremony.

Anthony Foley's former Munster teammates Peter Stringer and Jerry Flannery were part of RTÉ's punditry team for Saturday's game, and they also paid tribute to the Irish rugby legend. Flannery, in particular, spoke of the effect that Foley's passing had on the Munster rugby community.

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I think Axel was universally loved by everyone. We probably...I was coaching at Munster at the time that Axel passed, and we probably went away from what the province is about and the supporters.

There was a little bit of a disconnect there, and I think unfortunately it was Axel's passing that brought the club back together. It made everyone realise that it's a family, and that's very much what Axel eschewed every time he was around the club.

Twitter was also rife with praise and remembrance of Axel on Saturday afternoon, with all of the official Irish rugby channels paying tribute.

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Irish rugby was rocked to its core five years ago by the passing of Anthony Foley, and it's clear that his influence on the game in this country resonated with anyone he passed by. The tributes paid to him ahead of Saturday's game in Limerick were only fitting for a true legend of Irish sport.

Go easy, Axel.

SEE ALSO: Watch: Ireland Face Haka In Figure-Of-Eight Tribute To Anthony Foley

Anthony Foley haka

Eoin Harrington

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