"To have had someone like him in the game was a blessing": Les Kiss pays tribute to the late Anthony Foley

An emotional Les Kiss spoke about the tragic news that Anthony Foley had passed away

Less Kiss, Anthony Foley,

Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

The rugby world is in shock today in the wake of the passing of Munster coach Anthony Foley, at the age of 42.

While the Irish province's game against Racing 92 was postponed as a result of the news, Les Kiss and Ulster were still in action as they took on Bordeaux. 

Speaking on Sky Sports after his side's loss, and understandably shaken, Kiss paid an emotional tribute to the man he worked with in the Irish set up. 

"My thoughts go out to Axel's family, his kids, to the Munster family," said Kiss. "It's a sad loss for a lot of people in Irish rugby and Munster rugby. It's tragic really to tell you the truth."

"It makes you think about what's really important in life, and to lose someone so young, a good man, a great man, it's tragic.

"He was the heart and soul of the Irish team too for a long time," added Kiss. "I had the pleasure to coach with Axel, and he just saw the game in the simplest way. That was to be tough up front and play the game in an uncompromising way, and that was they type of character he was."

Image: Les Kiss with Anthony Foley during their time as interim head coach and assistant coach of Ireland, 2013. ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Speaking about the characteristics that Foley showed that made him so universally well respected throughout the game, Kiss highlighted that the Munster legend was a generous man who put his family ahead of everything else.

"He was a very generous man, he couldn't do enough for people. When you have someone like that in the game in your country, like Ireland have, it's a blessing. This is such a sad loss for everyone. 

"The adjectives come pretty quick to the mind, but I think more than anything, Axel stood for something. When he had a thought on something or when he talked about something, you could see the conviction in his voice. That really came through in his voice."

Elaborating on the important role he gave to family and friends, Kiss added that Foley will be deeply missed, as they all try to come to grips with the news. 

"When he reflected on Olive and has family, there was always this wonderful generous spirit there that knew that family was important. He talked about his dad a lot, and a lot of those things, so family was a very important thing to him as well. He was part of that Munster family in the halcyon days, and he stood for something, but more importantly he was a family man."