Making sense of human tragedy is difficult and often those who have suffered a loss turn to doing good in honour of someone in order to find comfort. Such it has been for those most affected by the sudden and tragic passing of Munster legend Anthony Foley.
When news emerged that the player-turned-coach has passed away in his sleep in Paris last October, Munster, Ireland and world rugby communities united in shock and grief.
The loss was raw and intense but the passage of time has dulled the emotions of all but those most closely impacted by Foley’s passing, as is the way of life.
Now however, in a bid to both honour the Munster great and engineer some good from the tragedy, students and staff from Limerick IT, along with local schools and rugby club members, have come together in the shadow of Thomond Park in Moylish to to break the Guinness World Record for the the largest scrum ever assembled.
Reported by the Limerick Leader, over 1700 people took part in the event which had been widely publicised on social media under the hashtag of #scrumforaxel, with Foley’s sister Rosie, herself a former Ireland rugby international, in attendance on Tuesday to help set the scrum.
Video Credit: Brian Ruane
With the scrum adhering to the standard formation of three in the front row, a pair of locks and three back-rows, under the watchful eyes of independent adjudicators, the efforts on the day surpasses the current record of 1600, set in Fukuroi, Japan last September.
Evidence of the days efforts will now be sent to the Guinness Book of World Records for review and ratification.
Furthermore, funds raised by the event are to be donated to a charity chosen by the Foley family and Rosie Foley was quick to praise the efforts of everyone involved.
“So many of these students would even have been too young to see Anthony play. Yet they have created this piece of history in his honour,” she said, speaking in the shadow of Thomond Park, where her brother excelled in his pomp and before his sudden and tragic passing in October.
“We’ve been so humbled by the tributes, the incredible support and the all-round generosity of people since Anthony sadly passed away. Today is a really special moment in all of that as it’s coming from young people and it’s great to know they cherish his memory like we do. It was the perfect piece; a world record scrum in his name and money raised also to go to charity.
“The students deserve so much praise for this as I have heard just how much work they put into it. Aside from the fact that we as a family are obviously touched by this effort, individually the students themselves have been part of something very special by setting a world record.”
The loss of Axel will, for those nearest to him, be something that is ever present. You don’t get over a loss like that. You merely learn to live with it. On a day like yesterday however, the positive sentiment and charitable efforts by so many will have made Tuesday a little easier.
Eyes now turn to Foley’s beloved Munster as they prepare to take on Saracens in the Champions Cup semi-final on April 22nd. For many, success on the pitch this season is the a fitting way to honour the man who gave everything to the red jersey, both as a player and coach.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena