Anthony Foley

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Anthony Foley
Anthony Foley rugby.jpg
Foley in his early Ireland days
Date of birth (1973-10-30) 30 October 1973 (age 41)
Place of birth Limerick, County Limerick, Republic of Ireland
Height 1.91 m (6 ft 3 in)
Weight 111 kg (17 st 7 lb)
School St. Munchin's College
Notable relative(s) Brendan Foley (father)
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Back-Row
Amateur clubs
Years Club / team
1992–2007 Shannon
Professional / senior clubs
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1995–2008 Munster 202 (195)
correct as of 29 Nov 2011.
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1995–2005 Ireland 62 (25)
correct as of 29 Nov 2011.
Coaching career
Years Club / team
2014–present Munster
Rugby union career

Anthony "Axel" Foley (born 30 October 1973 in Limerick, Republic of Ireland) is a retired Irish rugby union player and current head coach of Munster.[1] He played for Munster and Ireland. He was educated at St Munchin's College in Limerick and graduated from there in 1992.


Foley was part of the Shannon side that won 4 All-Ireland Leagues in a row for the Limerick club in the mid-1990s, with Foley playing in all 48 games of this sequence.


Foley made his debut for Munster against Swansea in November 1995, a game that was also Munster's first ever Heineken Cup fixture.[2]

He was in the Munster team that lost 8–9 to Northampton Saints in the 2000 Heineken Cup Final,[3] and was again the runner-up when Munster lost 15–9 to Leicester Tigers in the 2002 Heineken Cup Final.[4]

Foley was finally on the winning side when Munster won the 2002–03 Celtic League.[5]

When Mick Galwey resigned as Munster captain, Foley lost by one vote to Jim Williams in a vote to decide to next captain. When Williams left Munster in 2005, Foley became the new captain, and in his first season in the position, he led Munster to victory over Biarritz Olympique in the 2006 Heineken Cup Final.[6]

Foley had played in all but one of Munster's first 78 Heineken Cup games until a shoulder injury sustained during Munster's 21–19 victory over Leicester Tigers at Welford Road in their first game of the 2006–07 Heineken Cup caused him to miss his sides subsequent victory over Bourgoin, as well as back-to-back games against Cardiff in December 2006.

He stood down as captain at the beginning of the 2007–08 season, making way for Paul O'Connell. He was dropped for Munster's final fixtures of the 2007–08 Heineken Cup, and announced his retirement for the end of the season.[7][8]

Foley held a number of records at the end of his career. He held the record for most European caps (86) until it was beaten by John Hayes. He was the first Munster player to reach 200 caps and was the most capped player (with 202 caps) until Alan Quinlan overtook this record in September 2010. Foley still holds the record for most tries by a forward in the Heineken Cup, with a total of 23. His career total of 39 tries for Munster placed him only two behind the all-time leader Anthony Horgan.


Foley made his debut for Ireland against England in the 1995 Five Nations Championship on 21 January 1995. He scored a try on his debut.[9]

He went to the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa, an played in one pool game against Japan.[10]

He missed the 1999 Rugby World Cup, but was selected for the 2003 Rugby World Cup, featuring in two of the pool games against Romania and Australia.

Foley captained Ireland three times: in 2001 against Samoa, and in 2002 against Romania and Georgia. His last international was against Wales in the 2005 Six Nations.


From 2009 until 2011, Foley was the Munster 'A' coach, leading them to the final of the 2009–10 British and Irish Cup. He was also the defence coach for Munster.

In January 2011, he teamed up with Eric Elwood to coach Ireland Wolfhounds in their friendlies against Scotland A and England Saxons.

In March 2011, it was announced that Foley would take over as Munster forwards coach at the end of the 2011 season.[11]

Foley cooperated with Eric Elwood again in January 2012, when the duo coach the Wolfhounds in their friendly against England Saxons.

He temporarily replaced Gert Smal as Ireland's forwards coach during the 2012 Six Nations Championship, after Smal was forced to miss the remainder of the tournament with an eye condition.[12][13]

Foley signed a contract extension with Munster in May 2013.[14]

On 19 February 2014, it was announced that Foley would succeed Rob Penney as Munster's head coach, signing a two-year contract that began on 1 July 2014.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Foley is the son of Brendan Foley, who was a lock in the celebrated Munster team that beat the All Blacks 12–0 in Thomond Park in 1978, and who was commemorated in the play Alone it Stands. His sister Rosie was a member of the Irish women's rugby union squad.

Foley has played for his local GAA club Smith O'Briens in the parish of Killaloe, Co. Clare. He lined out for Smith O'Briens GAA club in a Munster junior club football semi-final in 2010.[16]

He has played inter-county hurling for Clare at underage level alongside former Munster rugby player Keith Wood.[17]

He is married and has two children.

Foley's autobiography, 'Axel: A Memoir', was released in October 2008.


  1. ^ "Foley Confirmed As Next Head Coach". 19 February 2014. Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  2. ^ "Munster Rugby 17–13 Swansea". 1 November 1995. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  3. ^ "Munster Rugby 8–9 Northampton Saints". 27 May 2000. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  4. ^ "Leicester Tigers 15–9 Munster Rugby". 25 May 2002. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  5. ^ "Munster Rugby 37–17 Neath". 1 February 2003. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  6. ^ "Biarritz Olympique Pays Basque 19–23 Munster Rugby". 20 May 2006. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  7. ^ "Foley reveals retirement plans". RTE Sport. 21 January 2008. Retrieved 14 March 2011. 
  8. ^ "End of an Era". 7 May 2008. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  9. ^ "Ireland 8–20 England". 21 January 1995. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  10. ^ "Ireland 50–28 Japan". 31 May 1995. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  11. ^ "New role for Foley with Munster". RTE Sport. 14 March 2011. Retrieved 14 March 2011. 
  12. ^ "Foley Temporary Replacement For Smal". 24 February 2012. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  13. ^ "Gert Smal Update". 24 February 2012. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  14. ^ "Foley And Costello Extend Their Contracts". 17 May 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2013. 
  15. ^ "Foley Confirmed As Next Head Coach". 19 February 2014. Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  16. ^ "Ireland rugby hero Wood to whip Smith O’Brien's into shape". 
  17. ^ "Smith O'Brien's Inter-County Players". 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Rob Penney
Munster Rugby coach
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Jim Williams
Munster captain
Succeeded by
Paul O'Connell