Erasmus: We will never get over loss of Anthony Foley

Munster prepare to take on Racing 92 in Paris on Saturday

BY Newstalk 11:20 Saturday 7 January 2017, 11:20 7 Jan 2017

Image: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Munster travel to Paris on Saturday as they prepare to play their rescheduled Champions Cup game against Racing 92. 

The two sides were due to meet in October, but the death of Anthony Foley on the morning of the game was a devastating blow for fans and players alike. 

Speaking to The Irish Independent, Erasmus said that the day he and the team learned of the tragic news will stay with him forever. 

"I'm sure I made mistakes that morning but what I do know is that the situation could not have been better handled by everybody, be it Munster people, the European organisers, Racing and the fans from both clubs," said Erasmus. 

"It was shocking, of course it was, horrible and unreal," he added. "The rest of the week was a bit of a blur but that day is still clear. Everyone will always remember those events. It was an absolute shock, to your system, to your emotions, to your reality. Everyone was standing around that day. What do you do?

"We will never get over it," added Erasmus.

Image: Munster's CJ Stander with Tony (left) and Dan Foley, sons of the late Anthony Foley after the game against Glasgow Warriors. ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

However, he stated that the team have been clear that they want the memory of their coach and one of the greatest players in the history of the province to live on, and they are ready and willing to talk about him as often as possible. 

"The boys made a conscious decision to talk about Axel as often as it might be usual to do so," Erasmus told Mick Cleary. "His office is right next to mine and the memories will always be there. He remains part of our daily experience. That is how we have approached it, lived with it. We want it to be a constant.

"This week's preparation has been like that, no different."

Noting that Munster's performances had picked up in the weeks and months since the tragic loss, Erasmus stated that emotion and grief had played a big role on that front. 

"Yes, emotion has played a part," he said, "but so too has perspective. I know it's a bit of a cliché, but it has been a reality check for us all [...] We must just trust in each other and perform to our best."

Fans are planning tributes to the late coach when the teams take to the field on Saturday afternoon and in the build up to the game on what promises to be an emotional day in Paris.

During the pre-match warm up, Racing players will wear red t-shirts with Foley's name and iconic number 8 on them, while supporters of the French club have also offered Munster fans free accommodation in their homes for the weekend.

Racing fans will also display banners ahead of the match with messages reading "Axel" and "Red Army welcome back".

Via The Irish Independent

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