Rugby communities around the world came together yesterday to mourn and pay tribute to Anthony Foley, the Irish international and legend.
Axel, as he was known, sadly passed away unexpectedly in a Paris hotel on Sunday morning.
He was the Munster coach and was revered in Ireland as one of the greats of Irish and Munster rugby.
Axel was capped 62 times by Ireland and a staggering 202 for Munster.
In 2006 he captained Munster in winning the Heineken Cup.
Munster are probably the best supported club/province in the world – I was at Twickenham in 2005 to see them play Harlequins – you would have been forgiven for thinking that Munster were the home side with all four stands a sea of red. I remember it because I had won two tickets and couldn’t find anyone to go with me (hard to believe I know).
I gave the spare to a Munster fan in the queue for a match day ticket – typically optimistic and loyal of their fans to travel without knowing they’d definitely get in.
We sat and chatted before the game, although I’m not sure either of us understood the other – however I know that his musical lilt was far more pleasant then my own accent. We drank Guinness together afterwards – it was a great experience and I really hope he felt the same.
I’m ashamed to say that I don’t remember if Axel was playing that day although I’d like to think he was he was.
I want to leave it to Munster fans and Axel’s great friends to lead the tributes –
Fans gathered at the stadium where Munster had been due to play in the Champions Cup against Racing 92 –
Ronan O’Gara tweeted this –
“Alone on the couch with Jess. Heartbroken. We have lost an incredible man. Too sad to tweet further. Sleep well Axel. We love you.”
Two video tributes from French & Irish TV –
RIP Anthony ‘Axel’ Foley