Ash Dixon presents a jersey in honour of Anthony Foley to his sons Picture: Sportsfile
ANTHONY Foley’s family have thanked the Maori All Blacks for an “incredible tribute” to the departed Munster coach in Thomond Park on Friday night.
The travelling New Zealand team presented a Maori jersey prior to performing the haka at the sold out clash with Munster on Friday night, one that bore the initials AF on the back – and which was presented to Foley’s sons Tony and Dan.
In a Facebook post on the Axel Foley Memorial page this Sunday evening, the family have said the gesture was one that “warmed our hearts in a way we could not describe”.
The page was set up to assist Foley’s 11 year old son Tony in his #8masses4no8 campaign after his father’s tragic and sudden death in Paris in October at just 42 years of age.
In the post, it says Foley “collected more jerseys in his career than you could shake a stick at. He loved each and every one of them and the stories he had about them.
“This one - collected in his honour by Tony and Dan on Friday night following a gesture by the Maori All Blacks that warmed our hearts in a way we could not describe - we are sure he would have right up there among his favourites. Perhaps now his favourite.
“It was an incredible tribute and gesture by a great rugby people; a great people. We will never forget it and are so, so thankful.
“One other jersey, in this week of all weeks and in this very special month of remembering, shares pride of place in the Foley home, side by side with the special Maori All Black jersey we now have.
“That is a very, very special No. 8. Not Anthony's but perhaps the jersey of the greatest All Black ever - Jonah Lomu.
“You see, Anthony's first ever game against New Zealand was when Ireland schoolboys clashed with their All Black counterparts.
“Ironically, Anthony and Jonah both wore No. 8 that day. Clearly a number very strong in our lives right now.”
The post features a picture of the jersey beside a candle, which the family “dedicated it to the memory of Jonah Lomu, All Black legend.
“We dedicated it also to his family, for whom this November will be a very, very difficult one as it marks the first anniversary of Jonah’s passing. That anniversary falls on Friday next, November 18th.
“Little could anyone have thought this night 12 months ago that a year on Anthony and Jonah would have passed over to the other side. But forgive us if we think of them being together, sharing their stories and smiling down on us all, perhaps none too pleased about all the fuss. No doubt jostling also about next weekend's game!!
“As hard as this time is, we are very grateful for many things, particularly the support of everyone. But also the sense that this campaign may in some way be helping with a greater remembering this November and in the run up to Christmas of loved ones gone before us, as many of you have told us in your kind messages.
“Please continue to dedicate your Masses, religious service of any denomination and/or lighting of your candle for your loved ones and, if you like, share it here. We are grateful if you do.
“The weight is heavy as we remember those we loved so dearly who have now left us. But as we carry that weight, we are still much more grateful for what we had than saddened for what we have lost.
“Thank you Maori All Blacks.”