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World Cup winner Erasmus' poignant promise to the late Anthony Foley

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

World Cup-winning coach Rassie Erasmus has made a startling promise to bring his medal to the grave of the late Anthony Foley, the head coach who died in his sleep in October 2016 when the South African was working as Munster director of rugby. 


Erasmus was only months into his job in Limerick when Foley, the former Ireland international who had led the Irish province as captain to their breakthrough European Cup glory in 2006, passed away in Paris prior to a European fixture against Racing 92. 

It was November 2017 when Erasmus stepped away from Munster, handing the reins to fellow South African Johann van Graan. 

However, despite being two years gone from the scene in Limerick, Erasmus made an unsolicited promise to an Irish reporter attending the World Cup final that he will visit Foley’s grave in Co Clare with his medal some time in the future.

Erasmus had just finished his post-match media conference following South Africa’s 32-12 win over England last Saturday in Yokohama when he spotted Derek Foley, a journalist from the Irish Daily Star, offered his hand and said: “Tell Anthony Foley the next time I am in Limerick I promise I will bring my medal to visit him.”

(Continue reading below…)

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Erasmus was very upset about the tragic manner of Foley’s death early in a season where he somehow managed to get grief-stricken Munster to pull together and celebrate the memory of their late head coach by reaching the final of the Guinness PRO12 and the semi-final of the Heineken Champions Cup. 

In his post-World Cup final media conference, Eramsus had put the pressure surrounding rugby into sharp context when reflecting on how the Springboks improved following their opening weekend pool loss to New Zealand to go on and win the tournament.


We were terrible in that week in terms of talking about things and getting tense – it was a terrible build up that told us a lot about how to play the play-offs,” he explained.  

“We were quite honest with one another about that. We started to talk a lot about what is pressure.

“In South Africa, pressure is not having a job or if one of your close relatives is murdered. In South Africa, there are a lot of problems, which is pressure. We started talking about things like that.

“Rugby shouldn’t be something that creates pressure; it should be something that creates hope. We have a privilege of giving hope – it’s not a burden.”


WATCH: RugbyPass meets some rowdy fans following the World Cup final in Yokohama


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