It was the moments of quiet at Thomond Park on October 22, that stood out. The air was thick with emotional silence, as people queued to sign books of condolence around the stadium, or stood to pay homage to the late Anthony (Axel) Foley outside the Shannon RFC clubhouse.
Joining with the Munster Rugby Supporters Club choir for, The Fields of Athenry, There is an Isle, and Stand up and fight, the flag waving sea of red came to a complete hush and standstill for the minute silence, as everyone on the west stand held up individual boards that together spelt Axel and his number 8.
Speaking with supporters, they felt they were doing something important being there as a part of the Munster supporter’s family, to show a sign of respect and solidarity in a very difficult time for Anthony’s family, friends, teammates and colleagues. The tribute programme sold out before the start of the game.
The eruption of singing as supporters tried to spur the Munster team on rang out over the city. Applause, shouts of heave, and standing ovations were in abundance as long time supporters made sure the traditions of respect were carried on, such as silence when either side is taking a conversion.
After a triumphant result and an emotional rendition of stand up and fight from the Munster players as they huddled in a circle with Anthony’s two sons on the pitch, supporters were slow leave the stands which normally empty within seconds, and only moved when the very last official left the hallowed turf.