Racing 92 skills coach Ronan O’Gara will relish returning to Munster in the Champions Cup. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Champions Cup draw puts focus on provinces’ failure to attract top overseas players

The stage is set for the 2016-2017 EPCR European Rugby Champions Cup & European Rugby Challenge Cup Pool Draws. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Leinster could join Pro 12 champions in the top tier when draw is made on Wesnesday

Luke Fitzgerad: suffered a litany of series injuries which curtailed the number of Test caps he won to 35, one more than his dad, Des. Photograph: Alan Betson

Class act has paid a high physical price for his early exposure to the professional game

Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert catches the ball in the end zone for a touchdown in the last American Football college game played in the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

The sport’s governing body in Ireland has concerns about insurance for the event

The GAA may opt to show Ireland versus France on their big screen on Sunday. Photograph: Inpho

To avoid free fall in attendance France match will be shown live before Leinster semi-final

Jeff Hendrick nearly gave Ireland the lead in the first half with a fizzinf left footed effort. Photograph: PA

Gavin Cummiskey rates Martin O’Neill’s side after a famous win over the Azzurri in Lille

Ireland denied series win at Ellis Park as South Africa power play in final quarter snatches victory

Martin O’Neill must have shed a tear on learning the seriousness of Jon Walters achilles injury. He constructed a finely balanced, effective, workmanlike starting XI that simply could not afford to lose even one key figure.

A tough day for Martin O’Neill’s side as Belgium hand out a footballing lesson in Bordeaux

Graham Henry: the New Zealander brings a wealth of experience to his coaching activities. Photograph:  David Rogers/Getty Images

Leo Cullen behind the idea to enhance his own and his coaching team’s development

Dublin hurler Gary Maguire,  footballers Denis Bastick,  Jonny Cooper and fellow Dublin hurler Mark Schutte. Photograph:  Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Goalkeeper reluctant to discuss Conal Keaney’s ‘tactical shambles’ view

Ireland’s goalkeeper Darren Randolph jumps for the ball during the Euro 2016 group E football match between Ireland and Sweden at the Stade de France stadium in Saint-Denis on June 13, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE LOPEZPHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images

Gavin Cummiskey assesses the Irish performances after the 1-1 draw with Sweden in Paris

 Meath captain James Toher  makes his victory speech following the Christy Ring Cup final ‘victory’ over Antrim at Croke Park. Photograph:  Tom Beary/Inpho

Christy Ring Cup final to be replayed despite Meath having initially claimed the cup

“I never believed in getting beaten and trying to keep the score down,” says Clare manager Colm Collins. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Clare manager believes provincial competition is past its sell-by date

Meath’s James Toher with the Christy Ring Cup. The final against Antrim will be replayed on June 18th. Photograph: Inpho

Embarrassing error saw Meath awarded trophy despite game finishing as a draw

Colm O’Neill: “The players have to drive it. At the end of the day you have to look in the mirror.” Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Gifted forward aiming to help Rebels overcome Tipperary in tricky Thurles test

Darren Hughes in action for  Monaghan against Down. Photograph: Andrew Paton/Presseye/Inpho

Darren Hughes says teams left in Ulster championship will provide sterner challenge

Bundee Aki was named player of the season in the Guinness Pro12 this season. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt met Connacht’s Kiwi centre after Pro12 final

Kieran Hughes of Monaghan shoots past Joe Murphy of Down in their Ulster SFC quarter-final. Photo: Andrew Paton/Inpho

Another uneven match in the provincial championships saw Down crushed in Clones

Karim Benzema  poses with Marcel Desailly following the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid at the San Siro. Photograph: Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

World Cup winner defends ex-team-mate Deschamps from racism allegation

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ireland coach expects Connacht lock to add physical presence for tourists in South Africa

Matt Healy celebrates scoring Connacht’s third try during the Guinness Pro 12 Final at Murrayfield on Saturday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Connacht winger set to cap dream season with spot on South Africa tour

Republic of Ireland midfielder Harry Arter slides in to tackle Kevin Strootman of the Netherlands during the friendly international at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/EPA

Bournemouth midfielder makes big statement in bid to make final 23

Roscommon  full back Neil Patrick Collins, who studies fashion. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Sacrifices are getting steeper for players who want to realise their sporting ambitions

London taking on Mayo at Ruislip in the Connacht SFC quarter-final in 2011. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Connacht champions should be forewarned thanks to memories of 2011

Tyrone’s Matthew Donnelly gets away from  Derry’s Brendan Rogers during the Ulster Senior Football Championship match at Celtic Park. Photograph: Lorcan Doherty/Presseye/Inpho.

Manager suggests Derry were not emotionally ready for game against Tyrone

Derry’s  Chrissy McKaigue remonstrates with referee David Goldrick after being shown a red card at Celtic Park. Photograph: Lorcan Doherty/Presseye/Inpho.

Ravenous defence and swift counter attacks form basis of comprehensive win

Tyrone’s Cathal McShane gives Derry’s Gareth McKinless the slip during the Ulster SFC quarter-final at Celtic Park. Photograph: Lorcan Doherty/Inpho/Presseye

First-half goals put Mickey Harte’s side out of sight at Celtic Park

After struggling for much of the season Leinster blitzed the team that had impressed

Former Donegal manager says teams need to target centre back Cian O’Sullivan

Dublin’s David Treacy says team are aiming for a consistent level of performance in this summer’s championship. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

David Treacy understands why so many players have chosen to concentrate on football

Tipperary’s Barry Heffernan in action against Galway in the  league in March. Photograph: Mike Shaughnessy/Inpho

Young wing back misses chance to make championship debut against Cork

Wicklow forward Paul Cunningham after his side’s defeat in the Leinster championship to Laois. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Mick Lillis admits side will have to sharpen up quick smart before facing Dublin

Laois’ Gary Walsh celebrates scoring a first-half goal against Wicklow. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Unconvincing Leinster championship win as Wicklow rally well during heated second half

Dublin stars Ali Twomey, David Treacy, Jonny Cooper and Noelle Healy modelling the county’s new jersey. Photograph: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Over 55,000 of least year's All Ireland winners shirts are expected to be sold in 2016

Jonny Cooper doesn’t feel any more pressure now than when he first played for Dublin in 2012. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho.

Corner back likes new kit he will be donning in the defence of Leinster and All-Ireland titles

Chairman of World Rugby Bill Beaumont. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho.

Vice chairman Pichot reveals how his attempt to bring Argentina into Six Nations was dismissed

 Agustin Pichot (new vice-chairman of World Rugby) and Bill Beaumont (new chairman of World Rugby) pose for a photograph during a media conference in Dublin. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

New vice chairman at odds with executive council and tier one nations

Munster’s head coach Anthony Foley arrives at Thomond Park. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Munster coach blames disappointing season on injuries as he refuses to discuss Erasmus

Munster’s Francis Saili scores his team’s first try at Thomond Park. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Reuters

Anthony Foley’s team capitalise on Welsh mistakes to seal their Champions Cup place

Clontarf captain Ben Reilly and Cork Constitution captain James Ryan with the trophy ahead of the All-Ireland League final. Photograph: Inpho

All-Ireland League final: Clontarf v Cork Constitution, Aviva stadium, Sunday, 2.30pm – RTÉ 2

British and Irish Lions prop Alex Corbisiero is taking a break from the game after a decade of physically punishing and mentally draining scrummaging. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Prop’s decision puts focus on physical damage being endured by modern-day players

Cork Con’s Tomás Quinlan: “Tomás has had a fantastic season,” said Con captain James Ryan.  Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Cork Con versus Clontarf clash will showcase the talents of two young gifted outhalves

Andrew Conway: will be part of a formidable Munster backline against Scarlets at Thomond Park. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Disappointing campaign can be consigned to history with victory over Scarlets

Leinster outhalf Johnny Sexton: “Johnny is a very passionate guy and he is very passionate about Leinster rugby,” said coach Leo  Cullen. Photograph: Inpho

Pro12: Leinster v Treviso, RDS, 3pm

Munster’s Rory Scannell tackles Leinster outhalf Johnny Sexton at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho.

Outhalf’s influence proves crucial as Anthony Foley’s withdrawal of Johnny Holland backfires

Leinster’s Jamie Heaslip tackles Munster’s Ian Keatley Photograph: Inpho/Billy Stickland

Munster were on the Leinster line in the dying moments, but left Dublin with a loss

Leinster’s Johnny Sexton scores his sides first try Photograph: Inpho/James Crombie

Leinster hold on at the last to claim narrow win over rivals Munster in Pro12

Ireland and Leinster player Jack McGrath at the launch of IRUPA’s ‘Tackle Your Feelings Mental Wellbeing Campaign at  St Mary’s College in Rathmines, Dublin. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ireland and Leinster prop forward has fought hard to overcome the loss of his brother

Leinster scrumhalf Eoin Reddan played for his native province Munster for two seasons from 2003 to ’05 before joining London Wasps for four years.  Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Veteran scrumhalf: `All of a sudden it’s about the guy who can pass the ball who gets the job'

Sene Naoupu in action for Ireland in the Women’s Six Nations Championship. Photograph: Colm O’Neill/Inpho

Kiwi has seized her second chance since coming to Ireland with husband George

Shane Duffy: “I just tried to go out there, pull the shirt on for Ireland and perform. It was a proud day.”  Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Blackburn defender takes the opportunity to press his case for a squad place in Euro 2016

Dempsey confident key players will be back on field, but not for a few weeks yet

Irish internationals Hannah Tyrrell and Jack McGrath with Dr Eddie Murphy, clinical psychologist and Tackle Your Feelings adviser, Zurich’s Elaine Hayes and Omar Irupa chief executive Hassanein at the launch of the Tackle Your Feelings campaign on Monday. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Members need to be in system where their salary meets their needs, says Hassanein

Irish internationals Hannah Tyrrell and Jack McGrath with Dr Eddie Murphy, clinical psychologist and Tackle Your Feelings adviser, Zurich’s Elaine Hayes and Omar Irupa chief executive Hassanein at the launch of the Tackle Your Feelings campaign on Monday. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Members need to be in system where their salary meets their needs, says Hassanein

Luke Fitzgerald could return for Leinster’s trip to play Connacht. Photograph: Inpho

Sean O’Brien, Rob Kearney and Marty Moore unlikely to feature in Sportsground clash

Ireland’s Simon Zebo and CJ Stander after victory over Scotland. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Three-Test series promises to be punishing one for Joe Schmidt’s team

Ireland’s Kim Flood breaks through the Scotland defence during Ireland’s Six Nations win. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho

The win in Donnybrook gives Tom Tierney’s team a third place Six Nations finish

Niamh Briggs: Ireland’s captain reverts from centre to fullback for for the clash against Scotland. Photograph: Colm O’Neill/Inpho

Tom Tierney brings more experienced personnel back for final Six Nations game

Belvedere celebrate their Leinster Schools Cup victory at the RDS. Photograph: Inpho

Last year’s losing finalists go one better at the RDS and lift Leinster Schools Senior Cup

Ireland’s Fergus McFadden and Josh van der Flier are both key players in Joe Schmidt’s eyes. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Ultan Dillane may be a long term answer and the early kick-off far from ideal

Conor Murray and Ian Madigan share a joke at the final whistle after Ireland’s victory over Italy in Saturday’s Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Colm O’Neill/Inpho

‘I personally counted 14 Italy injuries before the match. We saw that as an opportunity’

Sophie Spence starts at number eight for Ireland against Italy. Photograph: Inpho

Tom Tierney has selected a new pack while Niamh Briggs starts in midfield with Sene Naoupu

  Belvedere’s James McKeown on his way to scoring the first try against St Michael’s College in the semi-final. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Defending champions Roscrea will be the underdogs at the RDS this weekend

Connacht prop Finlay Bealham (left) has been added to the Ireland bench for Saturday’s Six Nations match against Italy   after Cian Healy was ruled out through injury. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

The Leinster prop has been left out for Italy game after picking up a mild hamstring strain

CJ Stander: “The last six weeks have been the best time of my life.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

South African-born Munster captain proud to get the chance to represent Ireland

Simon Zebo is tackled by  Paddy Jackson during an Ireland training session at Carton House on Thursday. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Jared Payne will play outside centre as Stuart McCloskey is dropped

Ireland’s Andrew Trimble is tackled by Englands’s Jonathan Joseph during the frustrating defeat at Twickenham. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Victory over Italy and Scotland essential to ease the mood within the Ireland camp

Jared Payne is available for Ireland’s trip to Rome on Saturday. Photograph: Inpho

Andrew Trimble likely to retain his place on the wing ahead of Simon Zebo against Italy

Dublin manager Jim Gavin during his side’s victory over Cork at Croke Park on Saturday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho.

Manager fully supports Jack McCaffrey’s decision to work overseas this summer

Brian Hurley celebrates a score against Dublin in Croke Park. Photograph: Inpho

Jim Gavin confirmed that Jack McCaffrey will be unavailable for the championship

Ireland’s Larissa Muldoon in action during against England at Twickenham: Ireland were unable to hold on to their 9-8 lead. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA

Narrow defeat at Twickenham must be learning experience for us, says Ailis Egan

Eddie Jones: “If I talk to the media I’m giving you commentary to give you stories. Now it’s gamesmanship. I can be like any other coach and say yes and no and not say anything.”

England coach happy to take on the media scrum as gamesmanship allegations fly

England’s wing Jack Nowell manages to tackles Ireland’s centre Robbie Henshaw in time to prevent a try during the Six Nations international rugby union match. Photograph: Getty Images

Robbie Henshaw, Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray impress in limp Irish showing

 Abbie Scott  scores England’s second try despite the attentions of Ireland’s   Cliodhna Moloney during the  Women’s Six Nations match at Twickenham. Photograph:  Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Failure to turn possession and pressure into points proves costly

“From this press conference onwards I’m putting a media ban on myself,” Jones laughed. “I don’t want to be accused of scaremongering. From here until next Friday before the Wales match I don’t want to talk to the media.”

‘That’s just the sideshow, it’s finished, mate, the main event’s just gone past. I’m not talking about the sideshow’

Rory Best: ‘Johnny Sexton doesn’t need an arm put around him. He’s a big boy – he can deal with it.’ Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland captain dismisses ‘gamesmanship’ by England coach Eddie Jones prior to clash

Ireland’s Niamh Briggs tackled by Ceri Large and Abigail Brown of England during last year’s Six Nations clash in Ashbourne. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

First win on English soil will fit in with team’s upward trajectory

England head coach Eddie Jones: “The destination for us is 2019, where I expect us to be at our best. That’s not to say we can’t win tournaments and Test matches along the way.” Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

The England head coach won no friends with comments about Johnny Sexton’s parents

New cap Stuart McCloskey in action with Johnny Sexton at the Ireland training camp. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ultan Dillane, Josh van der Flier and Stuart McCloskey ‘too young to feel pressure’ – Earls

Stuart McCloskey makes his Ireland debut against England on Saturday. Photograph: Inpho

Ulster centre and Leinster backrow both start against England at Twickenham

Dr Martin Raftery helps Adam Freier of the Wallabies from the field during the 2007 Tri Nations match against the South African Springboks in Sydney. Photograph: Getty images

Rugby’s top medic believes rising number of concussion is down to awareness

A concussed Mike McCarthy receives medical attention at the Stade de France after suffering a clash of heads with team-mate Jack McGrath during Ireland’s Six Nations match against France. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Link to brain damage is not proven but the view action must be taken is gaining traction

Cian Healy: Prop is set to decide between Leinster, Toulon and Worcester Warriors this week. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

IRFU talks stall despite offers on table from Toulon and Worcester Warriors

France’s Virimi Vakatawa and  Ireland’s Andrew Trimble compete for the ball during their Six Nations clash in Paris. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Reuters

Ulster winger says players will react well as Twickenham challenge looms large

Mike McCarthy lies injured after clashing heads with Jack McGrath at the Stade de France, Paris. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Gruelling campaign taking a heavy toll on injury-prone Ireland

Ireland’s Dave Kearney goes off injured in Paris. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

‘Definitely every time we got a bit of momentum we felt the ball was killed on us’

Joe Schmidt with Philippe Saint-André and Serge Blanco ahead of Ireland’s clash with France at the World Cup. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Should France thrive in Six Nations ex-coach’s tenure will be cast in even harsher light

Peter Meagher (L) and referee Gary Glennon. Photograph: Inpho

Leinster release statement after incident during Schools Cup match against Roscrea

Seán O’Brien was suspended after Ireland’s last match with France in the World Cup. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Ireland flanker excited to partner Munster’s CJ Stander in the backrow for first time

Sean O’Brien and Jonathan Sexton in training at Carton House on Thursday. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Joe Schmidt has made three changes with Rob and Dave Kearney both starting

Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton kicks a penalty against Wales at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Outhalf lands crucial penalty moments after two heavy collisions in quick succession

Ireland’s Sene Naoupu runs in a try against Wales during the Women’s Six Nations clash at Donnybrook. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Kiwi scores a superb try and shows her class on her championship debut against Wales

Ireland’s Sene Naoupu scores a try despite Adi Taviner of Wales Photograph: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Ireland Women off to a winning start with impressive performance against Wales

Elise O’Byrne-White will make her debut for Ireland against Wales. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Reigning champions shuffle the deck with two players winning their first cap

Mike McCarthy: “If you don’t front up physically, if you come second best you are not going to win the game.” Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

‘I always relish the physical battle. It’s going to be a massive task for us against Wales’

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt at the press conference to announce the side to face Wales in the opening Six Nations  game at the Aviva stadium on Sunday. Photograph:  Billy Stickland/Inpho

Coach did not want to risk another late withdrawal for star flanker

Munster duo Tommy O’Donnell and CJ Stander both start for Ireland against Wales on Sunday. Photograph: Inpho

Injuries force Joe Schmidt’s hand as he names side for Sunday’s clash in Dublin

Old Belvedere winger Elise O’Byrne-White earns her first international start against Wales on Saturday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Skipper Niamh Briggs believes growth of squad numbers is healthy

Ireland’s Paula Fitzpatrick in action against New Zealand in 2014. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Six Nations-wining backrow expanding rugby horizons in Toulouse and Cardiff

England’s frontrow Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley and Alex Corbisiero celebrate a scrum penalty awarded against Ireland in the 2012 St Patrick’s Day massacre

The last two Six Nations campaigns after a World Cup have been painful for Ireland

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