Ireland’s Lindsay Peat is tackled during the Women’s Rugby World Cup Pool C game against France at the  UCD Bowl. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Early three-try blitz blows host country away at Belfield

Ireland’s Jenny Murphy  and Lindsay Peat during a training routine. “They have some world class players but we know how we can beat them.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Irish centre relishing the task of taking on France in a must-win showdown

 Marie Louise Reilly: her recall will add significantly to Ireland’s attacking options against France.  Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

If preceding games are to be any guide, French look well-equipped to make last four

Head coach Tom Tierney: “We just need to make sure we play the game of our lives against the French.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

'We just need to make sure we play the game of our lives against the French'

Ireland’s Sene Naoupu tackles Honoka Tsutsumi of Japan during the Women’s Rugby World Cup Pool C game at  UCD Bowl. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Tom Tierney’s side come from 14-0 down but know much more will be required to progress to semi-finals

Hannah Tyrrell celebrates Ireland’s opening victory over Australia. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Backline should get ample opportunity to show their talent against Japan

Ireland’s Claire Molloy takes on Australia’s Katrina Barker  and Liz Patu.   Photograph:  Brian Lawless/PA

Tight group could come down to points’ difference in the end

Ireland’s  Eimear Considine  is tackled by Australia’s Katrina Barker a during the World Cup clash at Belfield. Photograph:  David Rogers/Getty Images

Coach Tom Tierney will risk resting key figures with France game still to come

Sene Naoupu and Nora Stapleton celebrate Ireland’s hard-fought opening win over Australia. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Gutsy tournament hosts make life difficult for themselves but see off game Australia

Selica Winiata scored a hat-trick as New Zealand romped past Wales in their World Cup opener. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty

Black Ferns’ back-three of Woodman, Winiata and Wickliffe a sight to behold at UCD

Head coach Tom Tierney addresses the Ireland squad in a huddle during the captain’s run at UCD. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Experience can prove a vital asset in tough opening assignment against Australia

Dublin’s Eoghan O’Gara is challenged by Monaghan’s Dessie Mone at Croke Park.  Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Monaghan manager believes format will only prove of benefit to stronger counties

Tipperary’s Niall O’Meara  after the final whistle  of the  Championship semi-final in Croke Park. Photograph: INPHO/Tommy Grealy

Manager Micheál Donoghue says first half seemed to be bypassing Galway star

Galway’s Joe Canning scores the winning point despite the attempts of Noel McGrath and Niall O’Meara of Tipperary to block his shot during the All-Ireland SHC semi-final at Croke Park. Photograph:  James Crombie/Inpho

‘Big moments are defined by your big players. He really stood up to the mark’

Dublin manager Jim Gavin shakes hands with his Monaghan counterpart Malachy O’Rourke after their All Ireland quarter final at Croke Park. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Jim Gavin pleased with side’s win over Monaghan but frustrated with wasted chances

Bernard Brogan: “Bernard has shown great leadership this year both on and off the field,” said Gavin, Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Return of Macauley, Flynn and Cooper strengthens Dublin manager’s hand

Ireland’s Lynne Cantwell celebrates after beating New Zealand during the 2014 World Cup. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ex-player says that better coaching is the key to improving and growing the women’s game

Ireland women head coach Tom Tierney with captain  Niamh Briggs  and Lindsay Peat at UCD. Photograph:  Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ten clubs have so far committed to scheme that seeks to attract extra 2,000 players

Former Armagh manager Paul Grimley: “The 2003 final and that semi-final hurt Armagh people a hell of a lot. When it came down to the crunch in both years Tyrone won those battles.” Photograph:  INPHO/Donall Farmer

Tyrone seem miles ahead of their fierce Ulster rivals in the hunt for the Sam Maguire

Ireland captain Niamh Briggs has been ruled out of the WRWC with an achilles injury. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Paula Fitzpatrick expected to take charge of side after fullback ruled out with Achilles injury

Lions secondrow Alun Wyn Jones takes a blow to the head in a tackle from All Blacks backrow Jerome Kaino during the third Test at Eden Park in Aukland. Photograph:  Hannah Peters/Getty Images

World Rugby may investigate Alun Wyn Jones’s temporary replacement of Sam Warburton late on in Auckland

Jordie Barrett scores his try against the Lions on his first Test start. Photo:  Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

Aaron Smith remains the best scrumhalf in world rugby while Retallick and Whitelock immense

Jonathan Davies tackles Jordie Barrett during the Lions 15-15 draw with the All Blacks at Eden Park. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty

Gavin Cummiskey runs the rule over the tourists after final Test draw at Eden Park

The Cheetahs are based in Bloemfontein, South Africa and will join the Pro14 league. Photo:  Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images/Getty Images

Cheetahs and Southern Kings will join the league from next season as it becomes Pro14

BT Sport presenter Craig Doyle  and pundit Brian O’Driscoll.  Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

TG4, RTÉ and TV3 all expected to engage in tender process for new rights package

Sam Cane puts in a hit for the All Blacks against the Lions. Photo: Andrew Cornaga/Inpho

Sam Cane excelled but Beauden Barrett misfired and SBW tarnished his legacy

Johnny Sexton’s selection at number 10 was justified as the Lions levelled the series in Wellington. Photograph: Hagen Hopkins/Getty

Gavin Cummiskey reviews the tourists after their second Test victory in Wellington

Maro Itoje produced another impressive performance as the Lions beat the All Blacks 24-21 in Wellington. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty

Sonny Bill’s rugby league roots, totemic Itoje, Barrett’s boot and Garces’ nerves of steel

Ireland’s fullback Andrew Conway eludes the tackle of  Japan winger Kenki Fukuoka  during the Test match in Tokyo. Photograph: kazuhiro Nogi/Getty

Impressive opening quarter lays the foundation for a convincing victory

Joe Schmidt and members of the Irish squad  in Japan. The successful tour has helped to blood fresh Irish talent.  Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Tour to USA and Japan has helped to identify future leaders within the Irish squad

Garry Ringrose goes over for the opening try of the game in Ireland’s win over Japan in Tokyo. Photo: Franck Robichon/EPA

Joe Schmidt’s side were always in control against Japan but struggled with the heat

 Akira Shimazu, CEO Japan Rugby World Cup 2019. Photograph:  Sportsfile/Corbis via Getty Images

Top teams will be required to play midweek games – just like the minnows

How Japanese  sports newspapers reporting on Japan’s win over South Africa in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.  Photograph: Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty

Ex-Australia coach Robbie Deans confident country will host a memorable World Cup

Jack Conan: ““There is no ‘Aw, we’ll get through this and be on holidays.’ It is, ‘I am putting on that green jersey and I don’t know when there will be a next time.’” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Joe Schmidt’s side braced for a fierce effort from chastened Japan in second Test

Joe Schmidt: “Pete is smart as well as tough, and he’s athletic, which makes him the lineout operator that he is.”

Ireland coach pays tribute to Peter O’Mahony ahead of first All Blacks test in Auckland

“What the Lions are doing is very much a Saracens approach, to put a brand on it, and Saracens don’t get tipped over very often.”

Former Australia coach Robbie Deans expecting a tight series

Ulster’s Jacob Stockdale will make his second Test start against Japan. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Andrew Conway moves to fullback with Jacob Stockdale recalled for his second cap

Paddy Jackson: hasn’t missed  a kick atgoal for Ireland since Murrayfield last February. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Luke Marshall to come in at centre as full-strength Ireland face Japan in second Test

  Greg Feek: “I heard it this morning and a few of us just went, ‘Jeez, again?’ You guys probably thought the same thing. I feel sorry for Rassie in some ways.”

Ireland scrum coach can understand rumours but ‘feels sorry’ for Munster coach

“If it is true then we’re all proud of him here. For his family particularly. We’ll be watching with real interest in terms of how he leads the team.”

“He doesn’t say much but things he does say prickle the hair on the back of your neck.”

Ireland’s Paddy Jackson kicks a conversion in Saturday’s win over Japan. Photograph: Inpho

The Ulster 10 is the only fit Irish outhalf left on the squad, after Joey Carbery’s injury

Keith Earls was impressive again as Ireland routed Japan. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Keith Earls inspires seven-try rout but discussion revolves around Gatland’s call-ups

Jack Conan: “I definitely feel the last two games, I’ve put my hand up and shown I can play at this level and I’m ready to push on.” Photograph: Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

‘I like showing that I’m able to play at this level. I think while I’ll always have a bit of a grudge, and something to prove’

Girvan Dempsey has been shadowing Ireland coach Joe Schmidt. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Flying back now Leinster’s backs coach and has been shadowing Joe Schmidt in Japan

Ireland’s Keith Earls scores the first try of the game. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

‘For our guys, if they have missed an opportunity because of the logistics, it is tough’

Ireland’s Keith Earls scores his team’s seventh try of the game. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Porous Japan defence made to pay for errors as Joe Schmidt’s team score seven tries

Ireland rugby squad en route to  Hamamatsu. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

‘The locals are weirdly helpful. They’ll board a train with you to ensure safe passage’

Dan Leavy:  threatening to become Europe’s king of the breakdown. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Leinster scrumhalf makes his first international start along with Conway and Scannell

Cian Healy during Ireland training in Tokyo, Japan. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Joe Schmidt ‘excited’ to see how inexperienced squad handle fatigue with eye on World Cup

Simon Zebo starts for Ireland against japan. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Coach admits preparations have been brief with tourists suffering from jet-lag

Ireland players and management pose for a photo with sumo wrestlers at Shikoroyama-beya in Koto-ward in Tokyo. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Simon Zebo and Andrew Conway also likely to feature in strong side for first Test

Niall Scannell in action for Ireland against the USA in New Jersey. “There’s no ‘touring’ mentality about it. We’d always go about our business.” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Munster hooker relishing the prospect of Test duty for Ireland against Japan this weekend

Kicking coach Richie Murphy:  “Japan have turned themselves into a really good side. Play very fast and loose. “Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Ireland coach Richie Murphy well aware of Japan’s threat in two Test series

Dr Martin Raftery, chief medical officer for World Rugby: ‘Dr Omalu is entitled to have an opinion but that’s exactly what it is, his opinion.’ Photo: Getty Images

Medical officer responded to claims by Dr Bennet Omalu that children shouldn’t play

 Joey Carbery has been ruled out of the tests in Japan with an ankle injury. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Leinster outhalf sustained ankle injury during win over the USA last weekend

Joe Schmidt talks to the Ireland players during training ahead of the USA test last week. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

‘This tour is a fantastic learning and working experience for young players’

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt: “There are guys on standby, but what happens is when they go away on holiday as they normally would, they just take their boots and their gumshield.” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Ireland coach says he is not going to give Joey Carbery a hard time after USA Eagles match

James Ryan  goes over for Ireland’s seventh try during the Test match against the US Eagles at the Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Young outhalf endures kicking nightmare as Ireland run in nine tries against hapless Eagles

USA outhalf AJ MacGinty passes the ball during Ireland’s win in New Jersey. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

‘Playing in a global competition, something like Pro12, would be superb’

Joey Carbery goes off with an ankle injury. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Outhalf rolled his ankle during win over the US Eagles in New Jersey on Saturday

 Ireland’s James Ryan scores a try just after his introduction in the second half. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Joe Schmidt’s side open their summer tour with comfortable win in New Jersey

Ireland’s Joey Carbery gets in some kicking practice at the Red Bull Arena, New Jersey. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Squad fully prepared for whatever the US Eagles can muster in New Jersey

Ronan O’Gara with Joey Carbery during a training session in  Hoboken, New Jersey. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Former Ireland outhalf is enjoying learning from Joe Schmidt as he shadows him on US tour

 All Black captain Kieran Read performs the haka before the game against Wales last summer at Eden Park  in Auckland, New Zealand. Photograph:  Phil Walter/Getty Images

Former Ireland outhalf says ‘there’s a lot of hesitancy’ in Lions’ attacking game

Former Connacht outhalf AJ MacGinty starts for the US Eagles against Ireland. Photo: Inpho

AJ MacGinty will win his 12th cap at outhalf when teams meet in New Jersey on Saturday

 AJ MacGinty: the Sale Sharks outhalf will pull the strings for the US Eagles against Ireland on Saturday.  Photograph: Jan Kruger/Getty Images

US Eagles outhalf’s journey came via Blackrock College, Connacht and Sale

Jacob Stockdale trains with the Ireland squad ahead of the Test match against the US Eagles at the Red Bull Arena on Saturday.     Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Jacob Stockdale on the wing with four set to make Ireland Test debut from bench

Jacob Stockdale (left) will make his Ireland debut against the US Eagles in New Jersey on Saturday night while James Ryan has been named among the replacements. Photograph:  Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Dave Heffernan, Andrew Porter, James Ryan and Rory Scannell could make debuts off the bench

Keith Earls: “It’s a different world now. They don’t fear as much as we did.” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Munster veteran sees the younger version of himself among his fellow Ireland tourists

Joey Carbery during a goal kicking session at the Stevens Institute, Hoboken, New Jersey. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Andrew Porter, Jacob Stockdale and James Ryan could all win their first caps

Cian Healy, Garry Ringrose and Keith Earls in New Jersey. Photograph: Inpho

Joe Schmidt’s young squad are closeted in the shadow of Manhattan’s sky line

Ireland prop Cian Healy: unsurprised he was not selected for Lions tour given his lack of game time. Photograph:Ryan Byrne/Inpho

29-year-old loosehead has not played full 80 minutes since before 2013 Lions tour

 Simon Easterby: “We are two years out from a World Cup. This is a great starting point for a lot of these young players to get an opportunity and to spend time with them.” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Simon Easterby: ‘There’s a lot of excitement with some of the youngsters involved’

Dr Bennet Omalu: the forensic pathologist turned the pugilist moniker “punch drunk” into chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), following the autopsy of  Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Mike Webster’s brain. Photograph: Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Dr Bennet Omalu says children should not be playing rugby or heading the ball in soccer

 Forensic pathologist and neuropathologist Dr Bennet Omalu: “All it takes is one season, one concussion and your child’s brain is permanently damaged.” Photograph:  Pete Marovich/Getty

Leading neuropathologist calls for contact sport with risk of head blows to be limited to adults

Joe Schmidt: “The door is never closed on a player playing externally. But it becomes a very difficult calculation.” Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

There is no place for the likes of Donnacha Ryan, Gareth Steenson or Tadhg Beirne

 Sonny Bill Williams in action for the Blues, the Lions’ second opponents of the tour. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty

Warren Gatland’s side must face all five of New Zealand’s red hot domestic franchises

Munster’s Keith Earls and his daughters Ella May and Laurie after the game. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Director of rugby believes his players have come a long way in turbulent season on and off pitch

British and Irish Lions team captain Sam Warburton training with Rory Best. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Gavin Cummiskey profiles the 41-men charged with the task of taking it to the All Blacks

Scarlets’ Steff Evans is sent off by referee Marius Mitrea at the RDS. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Winger was sent off in win over Leinster as Scarlets reached their first ever final

Munster coach Rassie Erasmus:  “Hopefully it’s third time lucky . . . We are happy that the final is in Ireland.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Lions now have 30 of their 41-man squad in place, but several players have injury worries

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen at the RDS for Friday night’s Pro12 semi-final defeat. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Three seasons and no trophy, Leinster need silverware in 2018 or something’s got to give

Leinster prop Jack McGrath grimaces in pain as he leaves the field after suffering an arm injury in the Guinness Pro 12 semi-final defeat to Scarlets. Photograph:  Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Loosehead prop will have X-ray to see extent of damage suffered in semi-final defeat

Scarlets’ Gareth Davies celebrates on his way to scoring their third try in the  Guinness Pro 12 semi-final at the  RDS. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Welsh side deserve their place in final as thoughts turn to injured Irish Lions players

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac will seek to halt Leinster’s undefeated streak at home in Friday’s Pro12 semi-final. Photograph: Kevin Barnes/Inpho

Scarlets coach hopeful Leinster castaway Tadhg Beirne will shine in Pro12 semi-final

Leinster’s Rhys Ruddock comes up against with Jonathan Evans and Aaron Shingler of Scarlets in March. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Matchday squad shows Schmidt does not dictate selection for season-defining games

Italy head coach Conor O’Shea: “I absolutely agree with it and feel it is something that should have been in place a long time ago.” Photograph: Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Conor O’Shea supports move to ensure top seven in Pro12 qualify from next season

Joe Schmidt has named eight uncapped players for Ireland’s summer tour of the USA and Japan. Photograph: Atsushi Tomura/Getty

Eight uncapped players selected in 31-man squad while Donnacha Ryan misses out

Jamie Heaslip: the Ireland number eight is in contention to travel to the US and Japan. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ronan O’Gara, Girvan Dempsey and Felix Jones to be part of coaching team

Conor Murray has been voted  player of the year by Rugby Players Ireland. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Tadhg Furlong is also voted supporters’ player of the year by 'Irish Times' readers

Ireland’s head coach Joe Schmidt: paid compliments to Japan’s recent progress. Photograph: Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty Images

‘Good, bad and ugly’ the coach’s reaction to being pooled with Scotland and hosts Japan

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt with Japan’s head coach Jamie Joseph  and Scott Johnson, the performance director of Scotland, at the Rugby World Cup 2019 pool draw  in Kyoto. Photograph: Dave Rogers/AFP/Getty Images

Analysis: Possible last eight meeting with Springboks would not faze Joe Schmidt’s side

 Andrew Trimble: “Maybe our skill level isn’t good enough? Maybe our mental resilience when we are up against it needs to be worked on?  Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Lions rested for Leinster clash as province conclude another disappointing campaign

Ulster’s Rory Best and Iain Henderson will not play against Leinster this weekend. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Payne, Best and Henderson rested for final Pro12 game of the season

Robbie Henshaw, Tadhg Furlong, CJ Stander and Conor Murray are shortlisted for Players’ Player award. Photograph: Inpho

Rob Henshaw, Tadhg Furlong, CJ Stander, Conor Murray vie for Player’s player gong

Just three of the players that lined up for Ireland against Namibia in Bordeaux at the World Cup 10 years ago are still playing. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Veterans of 2007 retain influence as Ireland’s first fully professional generation emerges

“It will be very, very tight,” said Cullen when asked if he expects them back playing this season.

Injured duo unlikely to feature again for Leinster this season

Darkness in the RDS after the floodlights failed during Leinster’s Pro12 win over Glasgow. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Despite a late floodlight failure, Leo Cullen’s side held on to remain top of the Pro12 table

Marnitz Boshoff is back at outhalf for Connacht on Saturday night. Photograph: Inpho

‘Next two games present a great opportunity to prepare for the qualification playoffs’

Ulster’s Stuart McCloskey impressed off the bench against Munster. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Ulster travel to Swansea knowing their Pro12 playoff destiny remains in their own hands

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