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Moving Tributes Paid To ‘Axel’

Moving Tributes Paid To ‘Axel’

A selection of the tributes paid to Shannon, Munster and Ireland’s Anthony Foley who has tragically passed away at the age of just 42.

Statement On The Sudden Passing Of Anthony Foley

Statement On Behalf Of Anthony Foley’s Family

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Anthony Foley RIP – A Rugby Life In Pictures

PRESIDENT OF IRELAND MICHAEL D. HIGGINS: “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.

“Recognised as a great leader both on and off the pitch, he captained the Heineken Cup-winning Munster team and represented his country at all levels, including playing 62 times for the senior team, and as captain on three occasions.

“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. 
“While news of his death will be received with shock by all those in the rugby and sports world, it is of course first and foremost a great tragedy for his family and close friends. As President of Ireland, and as Patron of the IRFU, I offer them and Munster Rugby my deepest sympathies.”

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 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.

“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.”

SHANNON RFC PRESIDENT NOEL HEALY: “I lost one of my dearest friends today at 42 years of age. I’m still trying to come to terms with it. My deepest sympathies to his wife Olive and their two boys, and his family and friends.

“We in Shannon RFC are at a loss to comprehend the tragedy of the passing of one of our quintessential club legends. Anthony was a hero that spanned generations and his loss will be felt throughout the rugby world. 

“Shannon Rugby Club was in Anthony’s blood from the day he was born. Despite the fact that he went on to become one of Munster and Irelands greatest ever servants, the club was always close to his heart. Through the glorious years of the All-Ireland League, he was one of the driving forces of the team that dominated Irish Rugby.

“Despite the fact that we have lost one of our club heroes and the rugby world has lost one of its greats, we are very conscious of the fact that a family have lost a father, a husband, a brother and a son.”

KEITH WOOD: “I knew him since he was five of six years of age. The Foley family moved to Killaloe. They were redoing a pub at the end of our street. The whole Foley family moved into our house for about three months,” he told Newstalk.

“He was a man who loved sport. He loved the town. He was shy, but sociable. Driven beyond all belief from as early an age as I remember. He was never the fittest or fastest guy, but he was the smartest guy I played on a field with. He was invariably where ever the ball was.

“He played for Clare Under-16s. He was a very capable left-sided hurler. He looked so much bigger than everyone else. He was well able to hurl. He loved it. We would have played with a lot of that Clare team that won that 1995 All-Ireland. The two of us went to the game together. It was fantastic.

“He was a one-club man. He played for Munster his whole life – that’s pretty extraordinary. He didn’t speak a huge amount, but everything he said was perfect. He knew the right thing to say at the right time. He knew the right thing to do at the right time. He had a wicked a dry sense of humour. The fact that we are talking about him in the past tense is surreal.”

JOE SCHMIDT: “Over the past few seasons I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with Axel. His insights on the game and good-natured banter ensured he was always great company.

He was incredibly supportive of Munster squad members selected for national duty and immensely proud of any Munster man who pulled on the green jersey. He is a huge loss to both Munster and Irish Rugby.”

IRFU CHIEF EXECUTIVE PHILIP BROWNE: “The Irish Rugby family has lost a special individual and all our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time. Anthony represented Ireland with distinction and will be fondly remembered for his contribution in the green of Ireland and the red of Munster.”

IRFU PERFORMANCE DIRECTOR DAVID NUCIFORA: “Anthony was a young talented coach who was committed to achieving success at his beloved Munster. As a player and coach, his passion and commitment to Munster never wavered and his passing is a significant loss to the game.”

EDDIE O’SULLIVAN: “The best way to describe Anthony was he looked like an ‘old school’ player. He wasn’t your standard athletic number 8 that we’re used to seeing nowadays. He was physically relatively average, but he compensated for that in so many ways – he had a fantastic skill-set, he was a very skillful footballer,” he told BBC Radio Ulster.

“For me, somebody who was fortunate enough to coach him, he had an incredible rugby brain. Not just the decision-making on the field, when to run and when to pass, he always understood that. But his understanding of the dynamics of the game, that make the game so tactically important.

“He was a great leader as well. As a coach, when you had someone like Anthony on the field, you were comfortable that this guy was going to manage the situation. That was probably his greatest attribute. It wasn’t his athleticism, it was his rugby brain.

“For that reason, it was no surprise when he retired that he pretty much moved immediately into coaching. He ticked all the boxes as a rugby coach. His coaching career has been so short, it’s just very, very sad. He’s a guy, you’d have thought, would have come through to coach Ireland having played for Ireland over 60 times.

“It’s a massive loss to rugby, it’s a huge loss to Munster and obviously our hearts go out to his family, his wife and kids. His family are steeped in the rugby tradition of Munster and Ireland. It’s a terrible shock for everybody, it was gut-wrenching to hear the news today.”

RONAN O’GARA: “Alone on the couch with Jess. Heartbroken. We have lost an incredible man. Too sad to tweet further. Sleep well Axel, we love you.”

PETER STRINGER: “Feeling numb and alone with only thoughts of this remarkable man. My protector on the field, I will miss you forever Axel. RIP.”

PETER O’MAHONY: “My first game that he coached me at Munster was an Under-20 game at Thomond Park, we won it 3-0 and that suited Axel as good as if we’d won it by 70 points. He wanted to win for Munster at any cost.

“I’m not going to do him justice here, personally he meant a huge amount. He’s been there, I haven’t supported a Munster team that he wasn’t involved in. The amount he’s given the province, it can’t be calculated.

“I was lucky he was in my position as well, the knowledge he could give to me. At times it was frustrating because he was such a good footballer, he found it difficult to understand that we couldn’t see what he could. The amount we’ve lost now that he’s gone – the rugby knowledge; the man, the coach and the friend. It’s huge.”

ALAN QUINLAN: “A true friend and mentor to so many of us. Rest in peace Axel. We’ll never forget you. Trying to make sense of what has happened is beyond us. 42 is no age for a man to die – and right from Sunday afternoon, when we first heard the tragic news, Anthony’s voice has never been away from my head,” he told the Irish Independent.

“‘Look out for my boys, make sure Olive is okay,’ he would have said. ‘Don’t feel sorry for me. There are loads of people suffering around the world, every day.’

“He’d tell us to smile and think of the good times. He was just that type of man, a real decent person who rolled with the punches and never wallowed in any hardship.

“I had a great chat with him just before the recent Leinster-Munster game. And yet when the business of rugby was out of the way, he was straight to the point. ‘It’s Mick Galwey’s 50th birthday on Saturday,’ he said, ‘make sure you’re there.’

“That was Anthony. He was always the team player. He wanted to be there for Mick and wanted his old team-mates around him because he loved the craic and the camaraderie and also because there was a part of him that instinctively felt he should be around his friends off, as well as on, the field. A phone call here, a text there, a chat, a hug.

“He was a good man and I will miss his humour, the slagging, the advice. ‘I feel a bit nervous,’ I said before my first Munster game. ‘Just do our job and we will be fine,’ he replied with typical reassurance. He just had a belief that when we were in the fight, we’d be in a good place.”

JOHN HAYES: “Jerry Fla rang me. I was going to be watching the game from Paris. I thought to myself, ‘what’s he ringing me for?’ He’s got a game to prepare for. Jerry told me…it is hard to make sense of it all. I was just looking at the phone. It was the last thing we expected. What can you say?,” he told the Irish Independent.

“I played with Anthony since our Under-20 days in Shannon. He was three days older than me. Whenever he had his birthday, I could slag him for three days saying he was a year older than me.

“We were all there (at Mick Galwey’s 50th birthday recently) and the craic was great. That’s the way it always is with us. We mightn’t see each other for a while and you’re straight back into then – slagging each other immediately.

“We slagged Anthony about going grey and he could give it back to us just as good. Frankie Sheahan was getting an awful doing about going bald even though he was trying to grow his hair. Anthony was in good form, talking and joking away.

“He was a true captain and leader. He’d always get more out of players and those around him. He never saw any reason why we should lose to anybody.

“If we were on the back foot or had conceded a try, he was the focal point under the posts telling us what to do next. He assumed responsibility and led from the front – that was his nature. He was our team-mate but most of all, he was a husband, a father, a son and a brother. We’ll miss him greatly.”

BRIAN O’DRISCOLL: “Can’t quite believe it. So incredibly sad. My thoughts are with Olive, his boys and his extended family. We played an awful lot of games, he was very important to me. I think I was lucky that I got his respect early,” he told Newstalk.

“And then he became very important to me from a captaincy point of view. I was given the captaincy, probably in place of him when Keith Wood was injured prior to the World Cup in 2003 and I was chosen by Eddie (O’Sullivan). He could have thrown the toys out of the cot but he did anything but. He became a very important leader within the team, helping me along. I think that early relationship really benefited me in that we did have mutual respect.”

FRANKIE SHEAHAN: “Distraught at the tragic news of Anthony Foley, Great friend, team-mate and legend. He was in super form last week at Mick Galwey’s 50th birthday. Incomprehensible.”

DAVID O’DONOVAN: “He set the standard for every Shannon player in the All-Ireland League. His legacy will live on forever. RIP Axel.”

ALAN GAFFNEY: “You didn’t need to have played against Munster to know that Anthony Foley was actually Munster. That’s what ‘Axel’ was, he was Munster,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“A traditional Munster man, who had a father who played for Munster and for Ireland, he had a sister who played for Ireland. He was Munster through and through, he would never have changed no matter what he was offered to go anywhere in the world, Axel was Munster.

“When I was down there (as coach) we had five international back rowers all playing for Munster, but no matter how good Alan Quinlan, Denis Leamy, David Wallace, Jimmy (Williams) and ‘Axel’ were, Foley was always virtually first pick.

“He was just such a good footy player and probably one of the best footy brains that I’ve been involved with in my life. Irrespective of that, the most endearing thing about him to me was that he was a super person, a good person. I very much feel for (his wife) Olive.”

LEN DINNEEN: “He had a Shannon jersey on him before he could walk. He was in the Shannon dressing room even when the team talks were going on. As a young fella there for cup matches, he told me that the language was blue as he sat there in the corner. He was soaking all that in,” he told 2FM.

“When he put on the Shannon jersey, he was a real Shannon man and played in some very good Shannon packs. They won the All-Ireland League so many times. They had a four-in-a-row. In that time Anthony Foley played 48 matches without a break. I can’t remember him being injured.

“He was a complex guy and some people say he was a gruff bastard. Yes, he didn’t suffer fools easily. Once you got his confidence and he was confident in your company and he saw that you weren’t bullshitting him, then he would let you inside this hard exterior that he put out.

“He was such a knowledgeable rugby player. Keith Wood said he was one of the most knowledgeable players he ever played with. He was that. His career speaks for itself.”

WARREN GATLAND: “Anthony was someone who epitomised Irish and Munster Rugby and was very well respected. He was a real man of Munster, passionate and emotional but also modest. He kept his head down and got on with it. He was really popular with team-mates and opposition players as well. I can’t recall anyone saying a bad word against him.

“He was a really intelligent player and achieved so much on the field. It’s a huge loss as he was someone who has given so much to the game. He was really just at the beginning of his coaching career and had so much more to achieve as a coach.”

CONOR MURRAY: “Blessed to have shared so many great memories with Axel. A man who gave me my first shot at this, thank you for everything. RIP Axel.”

CJ STANDER: “Axel, I’ve got you to thank for the rugby player I am and aim to be. Thank you. RIP Axel.”

RORY BEST: “Sometimes events put rugby into perspective. Tragic news about Anthony Foley. Thoughts and prayers go to his family, friends and all in Munster Rugby.”

SIMON ZEBO: “Some incredible memories with an incredible man that will never be forgotten..Heroes get remembered, but legends never die. RIP Axel.”

IAN KEATLEY: “It was tough on the players but his father was there too and my thoughts were always with his family. At the end of the day, rugby is the last thing on our minds. It’s all about Anthony and his family now,” he told the Irish Independent.

“Most people just see the 80 minutes on the pitch. That’s all they judge us on. We’re with each other every day and we try our hardest. Anthony epitomised that by working tirelessly because he wanted Munster to win so badly.

“I’ve known him seven years. I remember I had a poor performance last year and, it epitomised Anthony that he rang me up after the game and invited me out to his house the next day. We called out to his house and he had a pizza oven out in his garden.

“His wife and kids were there and Keith Wood and his family there and we were just having a pizza. He treated me normally even though I had a poor game. They are the things that people don’t see. He had a great heart. This year is not going to be easy for the team. There is a big hole there.”

DUNCAN CASEY: “I worked with Axel a long time.  He was my Under-20s coach and coached me with the Munster ‘A’s and coached me on the senior side. He gave me my opportunity with the senior side,” he told the Irish Independent.

“It’s just tragic and there’s a real sense of shock. It’s very hard to process. All of our thoughts and all of our efforts are with Olive and the family.

“He was terrific to me when I came out of sixth year in school and I was playing with Munster U -20s. I had an excellent working relationship with him and a great personal relationship from then on. He was a great guy who is very sorely missed.”

ROBIN COPELAND: “What an honour to have worked with such a passionate, competitive, driven, true rugby man! Munster to the core! RIP Axel.”

JAMES DOWNEY: “Can’t quite believe it about Axel. Was a privilege to have played with and been coached by him. Thoughts are with his family. RIP Axel.”

ANTHONY HORGAN: “Thank you for everything but mostly for being a great friend. RIP Axel.”

MOSSY LAWLER: “We have lost one of our greatest. A Shannon and Munster team-mate, a captain, a friend, a hero. Thank you for everything Ax.”

CASEY LAULALA: “Very emotional, but the beer we had and laughter we shared the night before will forever be in my memory. RIP Anthony Foley.”

JOHN MULDOON: “A weekend that began on a happy note sadly ended on a bad one today with the passing of Anthony Foley. Thoughts with his family at this sad time.”

GORDON D’ARCY: “Axel, you will be remembered long in our hearts, a light shines tonight on Foley Hill in Killaloe tonight with Olive and the boys. RIP.”

GEORDAN MURPHY: “Devastated to hear about Anthony. A gentleman and a legend of the game. Condolences to his family and all Munster fans. RIP Axel.”

DONAL LENIHAN: “It’s absolutely shocking news. At 42 years of age, things like this aren’t supposed to happen, especially to a fit, athletic man. It’s unbelievable. Not only was Anthony one of Munster’s most famous sons, but also at the Shannon club where his father Brendan and him were such a big part of,” he told Sky Sports.

“I got my first cap for Munster and Ireland with his father so I remember Anthony from those early days when he was running around the dressing rooms at Thomond Park. Shannon and Cork Con, my club, had a great rivalry and Anthony – even as a young fellow – was always a presence. He was destined to be a rugby player.

“I can think of him playing for Ireland and as a little figure in the corner waving an Irish flag. You obviously take an interest in someone when you know them from such a young age, to see them progress through the ranks with Munster and get capped for Ireland.

“It was almost in perfect symmetry with his dad, who was in the Munster team that beat the All Blacks in 1978, that he was the one to lift the Heineken Cup for the first time in 2006. That incredible day in the Millennium Stadium was very fitting.

“Limerick is a mad rugby city, the rivalry between all the clubs there is intense, but when something like this happens, I think it just brings the whole rugby community together.”

PAT LAM: “Anthony was an extremely good friend and I’m still in shock at what happened to him. Our thoughts go to Olive his wife, and the kids. It’s a tough day for them and for Irish rugby,” he told the Irish Examiner.

“He was a special man, I was only talking to him last week and wishing him all the best with the European adventure. It’s hard to believe that he’s gone and what’s happened. He will never be forgotten.

“The first time we met, I was captain of Northampton, and we played Munster in the Heineken Cup final. We won 9-8 but we marked each other. Straight afterwards we acknowledged it and that friendship lasted right up until this day.

“We stayed in touch often and encouraged each other. Connacht got off to a rocky start and he was the first one to text me. He was a legend in world rugby, everyone knew him, everyone respected him, and I was just blessed to know him well. It’s an extremely sad time.”

DENIS HICKIE: “An incredibly sad day, it was shocking news to hear. Anthony probably holds a fairly unique position in Irish rugby in the sense that he was captain of and played in the heroic Shannon teams in the All-Ireland League, the premier competition before the provinces took over,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“He was to the forefront of the amateur game that transferred into the professional game where he achieved everything he did, played international rugby and has gone straight into coaching – so he’s really been involved in rugby all his life. His father played in the famous Munster team that beat the All Blacks in 1978, and he was probably kicking a ball around Thomond Park as soon as he could hold one.

“It’s an unthinkable tragedy, particularly for his lovely wife Olive and his young family. These are incredibly tragic circumstances today that all of Irish rugby will be grieving from.

“I played against him many times in the heydays of the club game, (my club) St. Mary’s against Shannon. We both played (Ireland) Under-21s. After both starting for Ireland in the late ’90s and dropping out of the team, we both kinda came in under Warren Gatland and Eddie O’Sullivan in the early 2000s.

“Our careers intersected from a very young age right the way through ’til we both finished with Ireland. I’ve very fond memories of him, he used to sit in the same seat (on the bus) behind me. So for many years we chatted over the seat about many, many things. It’s hard to imagine that he’s passed.”

NIAMH BRIGGS: “The saddest day for Munster Rugby. A true gent who epitomised everything good about this province. He was the heart and soul. RIP Axel.”

TYRONE HOWE: “It’s very hard to find words. Forgetting rugby, what I remember about Anthony is his twinkling eyes and smile, and a great sense of fun. He would get the giggles and everybody would giggle with him,” he told Sky Sports.

“He was a big, big man. Not one created in a gym, genuinely a big guy and he was big in every way – personality, sense of humour and generous to a fault.

“In Ireland, the four provinces try to beat the living daylights out of each other when it comes to being on the pitch but it’s a big family and Anthony, with his dad Brendan, are Munster royalty. In terms of shock, the things that come to me are about the bloke himself – a magnificent bloke and a magnificent rugby player.”

JOHN FOGARTY: “The person he was, it’s difficult to comprehend where we all are and what has happened. Myself, Leo (Cullen), Guy (Easterby), Girvan (Dempsey) would have all played with and against Anthony. We’re not chatting about how good of a player he was, it’s the type of person he was and how good a team-mate he was and that will be sorely missed.

“Off the field, he was a good man. His whole family and Munster should be proud as I know everyone here is. When my Dad died in 2007, Anthony showed up to support our family. It’s all so surreal, and God…it’s going to be very difficult.”

TONY WARD: “He was one of the all-time great players for Shannon, for Munster and for Ireland, particularly in his beloved red. I think, like everybody in the rugby community and the public at large, we’re just stunned today. He’s going to be hugely missed at every level, not least by his family,” he told RTÉ One.

“The dignity he showed on the field was reflected even when he was staying on when his (coaching) position was being changed in the last two years, because he loved what he was doing and he just lived to be part of Munster Rugby. And that was Anthony.”

LES KISS: “My thoughts go out to Axel’s family, his kids, to the Munster family. It’s a sad loss for a lot of people in Irish rugby and Munster rugby. It’s tragic really to tell you the truth. It makes you think about what’s really important in life, and to lose someone so young, a good man, a great man, it’s tragic,” he told Sky Sports.

“He was the heart and soul of the Irish team too for a long time. I had the pleasure to coach with Axel, and he just saw the game in the simplest way. That was to be tough up front and play the game in an uncompromising way, and that was they type of character he was.

“He was a very generous man, he couldn’t do enough for people. When you have someone like that in the game in your country, like Ireland have, it’s a blessing. This is such a sad loss for everyone.

“The adjectives come pretty quick to the mind, but I think more than anything, Axel stood for something. When he had a thought on something or when he talked about something, you could see the conviction in his voice. That really came through in his voice.

“When he reflected on (his wife) Olive and his family, there was always this wonderful, generous spirit there that knew that family was important. He talked about his dad a lot. Family was a very important thing to him, and I guess one of the important things that he was part of was the great Munster family in the halcyon days. He stood for something and more importantly he was a family man.”

MIKE ROSS: “Like a lot of people I was hugely shocked. I was sitting down watching the Ulster-Bordeaux game when it came up on screen, I think it was half-time, and I was thinking, ‘this can’t be real’, but unfortunately it was and it’s just a huge tragedy.

“A man like that taken at the age of 42 – and the worst part about it is he leaves a wife and two young kids behind. That’s got to be absolutely terrible.

“We’d all know Axel, we all played against him or encountered him in a coaching sphere. It’s kind of strange, we’re in a bubble playing rugby but something like this reminds you that there is a world out there outside of it and a tragedy like this will hopefully bring people closer together, but it’s just one of those unfortunate things in life and it’s going to take people a while to get over this.”

LAURIE FISHER: “Distressing and unfathomable to learn of Anthony Foley’s passing today. One of the great Munster men and a great family man. Prayers for all.”

MICHAEL CHEIKA: “When you compete against someone and you earn respect for them from competition, it shows there’s a special person behind that. It’s really tragic, our thoughts are with the Munster family and all of Irish rugby. As a colleague as well, as a head coach for a team, it’s really sad.”

EPCR CHAIRMAN SIMON HALLIDAY: “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.”

BBC SPORT JOURNALIST TOM ENGLISH: “I spent a lot of years writing about Anthony Foley’s Munster, admiring the qualities of him as a man and a rugby player. His leadership skills were extraordinary, everything that we know about Munster Rugby now – the honesty, the uncompromising nature of it – that was Anthony Foley,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“It all started really with him, or if you got back further it started with his father’s era. His father Brendan also played for Munster and Ireland, a very similar type of player to Anthony – hard and honest. He came from really, really good rugby stock and he embodied everything that was great about Munster rugby.

“The things that Munster rugby took great pride in – the hardness of the game, the way they played, the passion of it. The rugby intelligence that he had was just brilliant and it ultimately ended in glory after a long hard road.

“If you talked to players who played with him – the Mick Galweys, Paul O’Connells, Ronan O’Garas – they will always say that Anthony was never ‘super fit’. He was never one of these gym monkeys, one of those types of players. But in terms of game intelligence and leadership, he was out on his own.

“He was an extraordinarily bright rugby player, so, so clever, an instinctive intelligence about the game of rugby, and I think he would have gone on to become a great rugby coach. It’s so, so sad.”

SKY SPORTS ANALYST STUART BARNES: “This is one of the great men of recent Irish rugby. This is a European Champions Cup day and Anthony would probably think of it as a Heineken Cup day. When there was the first 15 years of this tournament completed, we sat down and asked what is the best team of them all and Anthony Foley beat the likes of Lawrence Dallaglio to be the number 8,” he told Sky Sports.

“Along with men like Paul O’Connell and Ronan O’Gara, now coaching at Racing 92, Foley was a fulcrum point in that greatest of Munster teams. Every time I met him, it didn’t matter whether you criticised him in the press or in commentary he would shake your hand – a big firm handshake – and have a pint with you afterwards.

“An uncomplicated man who became an integral part of the Munster coaching team. It’s a hammer blow for Munster, for Ireland and for rugby – he is too soon gone.”

LIAM TOLAND: “I’m just so deeply, deeply shocked for his family, for the community that is rugby. When you hear guys like Keith Wood and all these other legends that we’ve had the pleasure of producing in Ireland speak so highly of him as well, it shows that it wasn’t just the little world that is Shannon. It extended way beyond Shannon, way beyond Munster, and way beyond Ireland as well,” he told Newstalk.

“Anthony understood rugby through the simplicity of how he worked. As a rugby guy, he had this clarity of thought that was just so infectious. In other words, he would say in one sentence something that would take ten for the rest of us.

“Sometimes people would forget, because it wasn’t fancy language, but if you took time out to listen to what he said, it was wonderfully clear. It was perfect, it made sense and he played rugby in a similar fashion.

“He was an extremely principled guy. Very, very loyal guy, very honest guy. His clarity of though it something that I always remark on, even at that underage level. He had an ability to see a problem, understand the problem, assess it and come back with what we need to do in the space of nanoseconds.”

ROBBIE HENSHAW: “He coached me for the (Ireland) Wolfhounds and over when I got my first (Ireland) cap in the United States in 2013 he was the forwards coach, he did a lot of work with me physically on imposing myself around the tackle area and around ruck area,” he told 98FM.

“I loved playing under him, he was a calm coach and a real driven coach. It’s devastating news. I was actually watching the Bordeaux game (against Ulster) and I was scrolling through Twitter and I saw someone tweeting, I didn’t really believe it. It couldn’t be true.

“It’s devastating and tragic loss for Munster and Irish rugby, my heart goes out to all the people around him. His wife and two kids, my thoughts and prayers are with them. He was a true legend and a true warrior on the pitch and an exceptional coach. He showed what Munster rugby was all about, he was an incredible competitor and just a hard working man.

“It was unbelievable to learn from him and to be coached by him, the way he gave his speeches I’ll always remember. His passion for Irish rugby was immense.

“I remember coming into the set-up trying to impress him straight away, trying to impose myself physically and do the things he worked on with me, to show him on the pitch I was getting better. I was thankful for what he did for my rugby.”

ULSTER RUGBY CEO SHANE LOGAN: “I, like many others, was deeply shocked and saddened to learn of the news of the tragic passing of Anthony Foley. The thoughts and prayers of everyone at Ulster Rugby are with Anthony’s family and friends at this very sad time.

“He was a legendary figure of the game of rugby union and represented everything that is great about our sport. His exploits on the pitch were well-documented but he was equally impressive off the pitch and was hugely popular in rugby circles. He will be missed dearly by his family, friends, and the wider rugby community.”

TOMMY BOWE: “So shocked to hear the tragic news about Anthony. A pleasure to have played with and been coached by him. Thoughts are with Olive and his family.”

DAN TUOHY: “Such sad news, had the pleasure to be coached by Axel with Ireland. Be sadly missed mate. Thinking of the Munster lads at this tough time.”

STUART LANCASTER: “I was reviewing our game (against Castres) when the news came through and preparing to watch their game on TV. It is devastating for his family in particular. Obviously I think about my wife and my kids and I’m sure everyone is doing the same thing. But the arms of Ireland will be around that family,” he told Sky Sports.

“It has rocked the coaches obviously and the players who knew him. Some of those players would have played with him – and that is Leinster.

“For Munster themselves as a province, it is devastating. It is devastating for the country but it is a strong country with strong people. I think they will respect him in the way that everyone would hope will do him justice.”

LEINSTER RUGBY CEO MICK DAWSON: “The thoughts of everyone at Leinster Rugby are with Anthony Foley’s family on this very sad day. Munster and Irish Rugby have lost a great captain, leader, and one of the finest young coaches in the game.

“Anthony was a fierce competitor and rival with Munster for many years, but he was a gentleman away from the field and great company. He played with unwavering pride and passion for his province and country every time he took to the field.

“He will be deeply missed by his family, friends, and the rugby community in this country and beyond. May he rest in peace.”

SENE NAOUPU: “Thoughts and prayers to the Foley family and friends. Rest in peace Anthony.”

PHILIP DOYLE: “So hard to put into words about today’s news. But, Rosie Foley, we are thinking of you at this sad time. RIP Axel.”

WORLD RUGBY CEO BRETT GOSPER: “Shocked by the tragic news of Anthony Foley. All at World Rugby send our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and everyone in Munster Rugby.”

JONNY WILKINSON: “How incredibly sad to hear about the passing of the great Anthony Foley. With enormous respect and deepest sympathy for his family.”

DAN CARTER: “Still can’t believe the tragic news! My thoughts are with Anthony Foley’s family, friends and the Munster boys.”

GREGOR TOWNSEND: “A sad day for rugby. Hugely influential figure in the game. A good man gone too soon. RIP Axel.”

STEPHEN MOORE: “It’s a big shock. He’s leaving behind a young family but also a tremendous legacy for what he did for rugby in Ireland and for Munster. He’ll be remembered fondly for that.”

PIRI WEEPU: “Very sad news about Anthony Foley. Sending our thoughts and love out to his family, friends and Munster Rugby.”

GEORGE NORTH: “So sad to hear the news about Anthony Foley. Thoughts are with his family.”

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: “Shocked and so sad to hear about the death of Anthony Foley. A true legend and a man who had the total respect of team-mates and opposition.”

THIERRY DUSAUTOIR: “Very sad to learn of the death of Anthony Foley. A great player and opponent. My thoughts are with his family.”

LEWIS MOODY: “So sad to hear of the death of Anthony Foley. He was as tough as they came on the pitch and a great man off it. Thoughts are with his family and Munster Rugby.”

MICHAEL LYNAGH: “Just received the news of Anthony Foley’s passing. I am shocked and saddened. He was a great rugby man, but most importantly a great person.”

NATHAN HINES: “Sad to hear the news of the passing of Anthony Foley. A great bloke and rugby player who has left a big hole to fill in Irish Rugby.”

CRAIG CHALMERS: “Can’t believe the shocking news about Anthony Foley. One of our game’s truly great guys and always a Munster and Irish rugby legend. RIP.”

JASON ROBINSON: “Thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Anthony Foley. The rugby world has lost yet another great man.”

ADAM JONES: “Unbelievably sad news about Anthony Foley. Tough man to play against, was the heartbeat of the great Munster team of my era.”

DIMITRI YACHVILI: “Legends never die. RIP Anthony Foley.”

ANDY NICOL: “The passing of Anthony Foley has floored me. Attended his testimonial dinner a few years ago, played golf with him the next day. Top man! RIP Axel.”

MARTYN WILLIAMS: “Absolutely tragic news about Anthony Foley. Thoughts are with his family and all at Munster Rugby.”

ANDY GOODE: “So sad to hear about the news of Anthony Foley passing away. A true legend of our special game.”

JOHN SMIT: “Condolences to his family and friends, may he rest in peace. Terribly sad to lose people too soon.”

WILL GREENWOOD: “Stunned and deeply upset by the devastating news that such a wonderful man, Anthony Foley, has died so young.”

MARTIN CORRY: “Such sad news to hear the passing of Anthony Foley. Fierce and uncompromising but afterwards would always find you for a bear. Proper rugby bloke.”

MIRCO BERGAMASCO: “RIP Anthony Foley. Very sad news. Thoughts and prayers to his family.”

GONZALO QUESADA: “Terrible and horrible news. Rest in peace Anthony Foley.”

JAMIE CUDMORE: “Always sad when a legend passes away. Rest in peace Anthony and condolences to his family and friends.”