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Published: 14:04 | 16/10/16

Munster coach Anthony Foley dies suddenly


The IRFU has confirmed Munster head coach Anthony Foley’s sudden passing.

The former Ireland International passed away whilst in France ahead of today’s Champions Cup tie between Racing 92 and Munster.

" 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", the official statement read.

" 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. "

The Clare native made his Munster debut against Swansea in November 1995, the provinces' first game in the Heineken Cup, and he went on to make over 200 appearances for the Reds.

Having succeeded Mick Galway as captain, he led the province to Heineken Cup success in 2006 bnefore announcing his retirement after a second victory in the European Cup two years later.

At international level he made his debut for Ireland in 1995 and in a ten-year career we would go on to represent his country on 62 ocassions.

Munster chief executive Garrett Fitzgerald said in a statement: "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.

"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 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.

"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."

Tributes have flowed in for the former Ireland international with President Michael D Higgins among those to pay respect to the 42-year-old.

"It is with great sadness that I heard of the sudden death of Anthony Foley, the Munster rugby team's head coach and one of the great figures of Irish sport in the modern era.

"Anthony Foley excelled from a young age and made a huge contribution to the successes of Munster and Ireland, in both his playing and coaching careers.

"He was regarded with great respect and deep affection not just among the Munster rugby fans but by all those interested in Irish sports and those with whom they interacted abroad."

Munster's clash with Racing 92 was postponded in the wake of his sudden death.

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