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IRFU announce that Munster head coach Anthony Foley has died suddenly in Paris

Today’s European Champions Cup game between Racing 92 and Munster has subsequently been postponed.

Anthony Foley Anthony Foley pictured at a Munster training session in Limerick on Thursday. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

MUNSTER HEAD COACH and former captain Anthony Foley has died at the age of 42.

The tragic news has been confirmed in a statement released by the IRFU:

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, Munster 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.”

EPCR [European Professional Club Rugby] have confirmed that this afternoon’s European Champions Cup game between Racing 92 and Munster, which was due to take place at 3pm at Stade Yves-du-Manoir in Paris, has subsequently been postponed.

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.”

Having previously served as the Munster’s forwards and ‘A’ coach, Foley took over as head coach of the province in July 2014. Following the arrival of Rassie Erasmus as Director of Rugby this summer, Foley remained in the head coach’s role.

As a player, Foley won 62 caps for Ireland — three of them as captain. At the age of 21, he scored a try against England on his debut in January 1995. He played in the World Cups of ’95 and 2003, and his final Ireland appearance was against Wales in the 2005 Six Nations.

Anthony Foley with the Heineken Cup Anthony Foley captained Munster to win their first Heineken Cup in 2006. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Having been on the losing side in the 2000 and ’02 finals, Foley captained Munster to their first Heineken Cup triumph in 2006 thanks to a win over Biarritz in the decider. He announced his retirement at the end of the 2007-08 season, having played over 200 times for Munster.

“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,” said Munster Rugby CEO Garrett Fitzgerald.

“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 Foley scores a try for Ireland Anthony Foley scores a try against England on his international debut. Source: INPHO

“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.

“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.

Munster fans gather to pay tribute to Anthony Foley the Munster assistant coach who passed away during the night Munster supporters gathered to pay tribute to Anthony Foley outside Stade Yves-du-Manoir. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“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. 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.”

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