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Remembering Axel | Quinlan's sporting moment of the decade

Jake O'Donnell
Jake O'Donnell

03:08 29 Nov 2019

Alan Quinlan opened up on Friday's OTB AM about what he described as his Irish sporting moment of the decade: Ireland's tribute to Anthony Foley against the All Blacks in Chicago. 

The match in 2016 was Ireland's first game after the death of the Munster coach, with the Irish players organising into a figure of '8' to honour the former international's jersey number.

Speaking on OTB AM, Quinlan said it was a surreal and touching moment for everyone connected to Foley.

"It was one of that special kind of days. It was just really surreal.

"I wasn't out there, I watched it on TV but given that Axel had only passed away a few weeks before, it was just a really special gesture to him and the impact he made as a player for Munster and Ireland, and as a coach for Munster aswell.

"It was just a really touching moment, the most emotional moment of them all.

"It was the players who came up with it and it was just, I don't know I just got a really kind of... people talk about the hairs standing up on the back of your neck. It was just an emotional belt that goes through you when you see that.

"It was a lovely moment from the players and it was really well thought of and he was obviously very, very close with lots of people who were involved in that match – players and coaches – and it was just a very special moment in a very sad period of time for his family and his former teammates."

Equally powerful, Quinlan said, was Munster's first match following the burial of their coach.

"If I was picking a provincial match, I would say Munster-Glasgow in Thomond Park.

"So many people were emotionally broken about what happened; Anthony was buried on Friday, the game was on Saturday.

"It would never have mattered what team came to Thomond Park that day. Even if it was New Zealand, they were never going to lose that game, they just played as if their own lives depended on it.

"It was an eerie kind of silence but people felt an obligation to be there and to honour him. People were still incredibly broken and shocked.

"It's not something you celebrate and say it was a great day or anything but it was just a really poignant way to honour somebody and the impact Axel had made on so many peoples lives."


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Alan Quinlan Anthony Foley Irish Rugby Munster Rugby

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