Anthony Foley: Family 'plunged into darkness' by Munster coach's death

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World of rugby pays tribute to Anthony Foley

Anthony Foley's family say they have been "plunged into incomprehensible darkness" following the Munster head coach's sudden death.

Foley, 42, died on Saturday in the Paris hotel where Munster were staying before Sunday's scheduled European Champions Cup game at Racing 92.

"Our anguish at the sudden loss of Anthony is bottomless," said a statement released on Monday.

The statement thanked the "legions" who have sent messages of sympathy.

Hundreds of people continued have signed books of condolence at Munster's Thomond Park ground in Limerick and other venues.

A minute's silence was also observed at Limerick courthouse on Monday.

Ronan O'Gara tweet
Ronan O'Gara said he was "heartbroken" by his former Munster and Ireland team-mate's death

Foley, whose father Brendan also played for Munster and Ireland, is survived by wife Olive and two sons.

"We wish to thank everyone for their support. It will help carry us through these darkest days," added the Foley family statement.

"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.

"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."

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Former Ireland coach O'Sullivan pays tribute to Anthony Foley

Foley was destined for Ireland job - O'Sullivan

Foley led Munster to their first European Cup triumph in 2006 and also captained his country on three occasions as he played 201 times for the Irish province and earned 62 international caps.

After joining Munster's coaching staff following his retirement in 2008, Foley was appointed forwards coach in 2011 before taking the head coach's role three years later.

He remained head coach after South African Rassie Erasmus was appointed director of rugby in July.

Former Ireland boss Eddie O'Sullivan expected Foley to become Ireland coach in the future.

"Leadership is a special skill. It's about knowing what to say and the time to say it. Anthony got that," said O'Sullivan, who was in charge of Ireland between late 2001 and 2008.

O'Sullivan's predecessor as Ireland coach, current Wales and British & Irish Lions boss Warren Gatland, said Foley "epitomised Irish and Munster rugby".

"He was a real man of Munster, passionate and emotional but also modest. He kept his head down and got on with it," said Gatland.

"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."

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