President Michael D Higgins has led tributes to Munster head coach Anthony Foley who died during the night in France.

The 42-year-old record-breaking Munster forward was found dead in the Munster team hotel in Paris, ahead of the clash in the European Champions Cup against Racing 92.

"It is with great sadness that I heard of the sudden death of Anthony Foley, the Munster rugby team's head coach and one of the great figures of Irish sport in the modern era," said Mr Higgins.

Anthony Foley dies | Munster fans remember coach | A career in rugby

"Anthony Foley excelled from a young age and made a huge contribution to the successes of Munster and Ireland, in both his playing and coaching careers.

"While news of his death will be received with shock by all those in the rugby and sports world, it is of course first and foremost a great tragedy for his family and close friends.

As President of Ireland, and as Patron of the IRFU, I offer them and Munster rugby my deepest sympathies," added Mr Higgins.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny expressed his condolences this afternoon, saying: "Like everyone else in the country, I am absolutely shocked on hearing of the untimely passing of Munster Head Coach, Anthony Foley.

"Anthony was a legendary figure in Munster and Irish rugby. It is tragic to lose such a fantastic man at such a young age. My thoughts are with his family and his club mates at this awful time.

"Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis," added Mr Kenny.

Books of condolences will be opened at noon at county council offices across Munster tomorrow.

The Irish flag will also be flown at half mast outside the local authority offices.

Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin also expressed his shock and sadness at the death of Mr Foley.

Mr Martin said: "Anthony's untimely death has sent shock-waves through the Munster Rugby family and his loss will be felt at community, provincial and national level.

"As a player, he spanned the amateur and professional era and won 62 caps for Ireland during his decade long career. He was the epitome of all that is good about rugby and sport," said Mr Martin.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Sport Shane Ross along with the Minister of State with responsibility for Sport Patrick O'Donovan also paid tribute to Mr Foley.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Anthony's partner, children, family, and friends at this very difficult time," said Mr Ross.

Mr O'Donovan said: "Anthony will be very fondly remembered for the joy and pleasure that he brought to the people of Limerick, Munster and Ireland."