Distraught Munster begin to regroup but priority remains the family

Decision to go ahead with Saturday’s game at Thomond Park still to be made

As to whether Munster will go ahead with their scheduled European Champions Cup game against Glasgow on Saturday at Thomond Park remains secondary to the needs of the Foley family,

The Munster squad will convene on Wednesday morning at their University of Limerick base for the first time since making their distraught journey home on Sunday night.

As to whether they will go ahead with their scheduled European Champions Cup game against Glasgow on Saturday at Thomond Park remains secondary to the needs of the Foley family, who made a moving statement yesterday expressing that their "anguish" is "bottomless".

No funeral arrangements can be made until Foley’s remains are released to his family, which in turn depends on the conclusion of the autopsy into his death on Sunday morning at the Novotel Hotel in the suburb of Suresnes, west of Paris, where the Munster squad were based.

There has been no indication as to when results of the autopsy will be known, a spokeswoman for the Nanterre prosecutor, Catherine Denis, confirming that “it usually takes between two and seven days to get the results”. For the time being, Munster will look to prepare for the match against Glasgow but with their priority being the Foley family, this hinges on many variables over the next day or so.


It is understood that the tournament organisers, EPCR, are liaising with Munster but that a decision on the match against Glasgow will be entirely with the province, and that EPCR will give them the time and space to do so.

The Foley family issued a statement yesterday which read: "The family of Anthony Foley wishes to extend its deepest appreciation to the endless legions of friends and the wider rugby family here and abroad for the huge outpouring of support and sympathy since Anthony's tragic and most untimely passing at the weekend."

“With Anthony’s passing, we have ultimately lost an amazing, adoring and loving father and husband; an equally caring, loyal and devoted son and brother; a central and go-to figure for the wider Foley and Hogan families.

“Our anguish at the sudden loss of Anthony is bottomless. We have been plunged deep into an incomprehensible darkness and sense of loss that we must work our way through over the coming days, weeks, months and years.” “We know, too, that his sudden death has brought the rugby worlds of Shannon RFC, Munster, Ireland and much further afield crashing down. You have lost a former player, coach, friend and all-round inspiration – your and our hero both. We mourn his loss together.”

“We again wish to thank everyone for their support; it will help carry us through these darkest days.”

“With regard to media, we thank you also for the sensitive way in which you have paid tribute to Anthony since the weekend but we do ask that our privacy and that of his close friends be respected over this tragic period.”

The IRFU have opened a book of condolence at its office on Lansdowne Road. IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne, said, "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 said, "his passing is a significant loss to the game." while Joe Schmidt also paid tribute.

“Over the past few seasons I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with Axel,” said the Ireland head coach.

“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.”

The Connacht coach, Pat Lam, who was captain of Noerthampton and Foley's opposite number in the 2000 Heineken Cup final at Twickenham, received an honorary doctorate in NUIG yesterday which he admitted was tinged with sadness.

"He was a special man," said Lam of Foley. "It's hard to believe that he's gone, but he'll never be forgotten." There were also further tributes to Foley and expressions of sympathy to his family from the Six Nations, whose chairman, former Munster and Ireland hooker Pat Whelan, said, "Anthony was the embodiment of rugby and its values. He will be a huge loss to everyone."

The University of Limerick also conveyed “its deepest sympathies with the family and friends of Munster Rugby Head Coach Anthony Foley.”

UL Director of Sport, David Mahedy said, “on behalf of all at UL, may I express my sincerest condolences to Anthony’s family.

“He was a true leader and he demonstrated this quality both on the field of play and more recently, on a daily basis as he went about his work with Munster’s next generation here at the UL campus. He will be sorely missed by all. May he rest in peace.”

A Book of Condolence was also made available at the UL Sport Arena.

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley is Rugby Correspondent of The Irish Times