Foley family deeply touched by rugby squad’s tribute

The AIG Rugby Weekend, Solider Field, Chicago, USA, 05/11/2016

The AIG Rugby Weekend, Solider Field, Chicago, USA, 05/11/2016

The family of former Ireland rugby captain Anthony Foley (pictured) have revealed how moved they were by an tribute to the late rugby star ahead of Ireland’s historic drubbing of the All Blacks at the weekend.

In a poignant scene just before the kick-off in Chicago, the Irish squad formed a figure of eight – Foley’s number – as they faced down the famously intimidating New Zealand Haka.

Anthony Foley

Anthony Foley

Ultimately Ireland won 40-29.

“To say that we were touched by how Ireland faced the New Zealand Haka, drawing inspiration from the No 8, would be an understatement,” said Foley’s family on a Facebook page set up in memory of the coach.

“Ironically, 15 years ago Anthony played for Ireland against and lost to New Zealand on a score of... 40-29.

“Last night’s Irish response to the Haka was incredible remembrance.”

In Chicago, proud Irish flanker Christiaan Johan Stander said: “He meant so much to me, he was really the rock in my rugby the last four years.

“He showed me a lot about what he’d learned over the years. I think he pushed me to the next level.”

Stander added: “Everything we gave was for him. So this match was for Axel.”