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'He is part of the history of Munster, he is Monsieur Munster'

Racing 92 coach Laurent Labit paid tribute to Anthony Foley.

Murray Kinsella reports from Paris

RACING 92 COACH Laurent Labit has paid tribute to Anthony Foley after the Munster head coach passed away in Paris.

The plaudits rolled in for Foley from around Ireland yesterday, but the international reaction has been similarly strong, with players and coaches from New Zealand, England, Scotland, Wales, Australia and the rest of the rugby-playing world joining in by sharing their condolences with Foley’s family.

Anthony Foley Foley reached the holy grail with Munster. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The former Munster number eight had many good days against French sides in Munster colours, perhaps most notably versus Biarritz in the victorious 2006 Heineken Cup final.

Foley will be remembered fondly by all in French rugby, with Racing coach Labit expressing his shock at Stade-Yves-du-Manoir yesterday afternoon.

“It was not just in Munster and Irish rugby that Anthony Foley is respected,” said Labit. “It is a terrible shock.

He is respected in France for his performances for Munster and Ireland. He is part of the history of Munster, he is Monsieur Munster, the same as Serge Blanco in Biarritz or Philippe Sella in Agen. It is a tragedy.”

Foley won 62 caps for Ireland, featuring in three World Cups and also captaining his country on three occasions.

He will forever remain synonymous with Munster, having guided the province to their first-ever Heineken Cup title in 2006 as captain. He had previously been involved in the 2000 and 2002 final defeats in the European competition.

Ronan O’Gara was his long-time team-mate with the southern province and understandably appeared to be in total shock at Stade-Yves-du-Manoir yesterday afternoon.

Labit said it will be a difficult time for O’Gara.

“They have been great friends and colleagues for years,” said Labit. “This was the last thing anyone expected coming here to play a match.”

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Pure shock in Paris as Munster legend ‘Axel’ Foley passes away

In pics: Anthony Foley, Munster and Ireland legend

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Murray Kinsella

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