The late Anthony Foley’s legacy shone bright again on a global stage yesterday as the students of LIT entered the Guinness World Records with their ‘Scrum for Axel’.
Held at the Institute’s headquarters at Moylish – where Foley himself attended before taking up a professional career in rugby – the event saw the existing World Record for the largest scrum ever of just short of 1,600 turned over as 1,740 put their shoulders behind the initiative.
The turn-out mirrored the sense of solidarity for the Foley family that has swept across the Limerick, Killaloe and wider country since Anthony’s passing in October. Young and old, from LIT students and staff, to local primary schools, rugby clubs, fathers and mothers, sons, daughters, right up to pensioners all joining to create this special tribute to the heroic Shannon, Munster and Ireland rugby legend.
Appropriately and poignantly, Anthony’s sister Rosie – herself a former Ireland rugby international – – was even on hand to help set the scrum.
The formation was in keeping with the standard scrum; three front rows, two second rows and three back-rows locking down in repeat scrums side by side he length of the institute’s GAA pitches.
Adjudicators from Ernst and Young were present for the record-breaking attempt, and documentary evidence has now been sent to the Guinness Book of World Records for official ratification. The number was well and truly broken however, as every last participant was counted before they were dispatched to the pitch in groups of 50 at a time to join the scrum which ran, end to end, all of 150 metres.
Reflecting on the achievement, Rosie Foley said the family have been humbled yet again by the continued dedication to Anthony’s memory. “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.
“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.”
Said LIT president Vincent Cunnane: “I’m just very proud of our students, that they would not alone set a world record, which is a huge achievement, but that in doing so they have honoured a legend of Shannon, Munster and Irish rugby, someone who is still very much in our thoughts on a daily basis. Anthony Foley clearly continues to inspire us.”
Said one of the organisers, Sports Management Student Robert Lewis, “We’re absolutely thrilled. Anthony Foley was a legend and we’ve made our own bit of legend here today by setting a world record in his name. A lot of work went into this and to have his family support the event was fantastic. To have his sister here in the middle of it, setting the scrum, really brought it home. We are just so proud that we’ve achieved this in his name.”