Jared Payne will not  face France on Sunday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Cian Helay and Devin Toner both return to the XV for Sunday’s pool decider vs France

France’s Bernard le Roux in action against Italy at the Millennium Stadium. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Ireland outhalf’s former team-mate Bernard Le Roux aims to put Dubliner under pressure

 Paul O’Connell and Rob Kearney at the Celtic Manor Resort where the Ireland squad is based in advance of Sunday’s clash with France. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Communication a pivotal part of the game, though sometimes not with journalists

Devin Toner has rubbished French comparisons between Johnny Sexton and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Photograph: Afp

Ireland lock dismisses French claims outhalf threw his weight around at Racing Metro

Johnny Sexton  runs with the ball during the   Pool D match against Italy. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty

Outhalf full of praise for Michael Cheika before turning attention to French challenge

Jared Payne: Joe Schmidt stated Sunday night he expects to choose his team from a fully available 31-man squad. Photograph: Inpho

Kiwi centre is expected to feature in Ireland’s final pool game against France on Sunday

Jonathan Sexton says the French are not interested in winning the Six Nations. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Sexton: ‘We probably need the best performance of Joe’s time to win this weekend’

Ireland struggled at times against Italy and captain Paul O’Connell feels the gameplan possibly needs to change. Photo: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Tactical Ireland kicked a lot and didn’t take risks, says Parisse

Ireland’s Iain Henderson tackles Italy’s  Edoardo Gori during the Pool D match at the Olympic Stadium. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho.

Ireland lock’s presence inspires others to heights of controlled ferocity

Jack McGrath and Cian Healy have traded places – largely due to the latter’s injury profile and McGrath starts against Italy. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

But, in stark contrast to previous regimes, the door is never welded shut

Mike Ross is vital to Ireland’s World Cup hopes despite his international career blooming late. Photograph: Getty

Ireland will need tighthead to be his usual durable self if they hope to fulfil ambitions at tournament

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt keeps an eye on training this morning. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Jared Payne and Rob Kearney miss clash with injuries as Sergio Parisse returns for Azzurri

Fiji’s centre Vereniki Goneva  is tackled by Dan Biggar  and   Jamie Roberts of Wales  during the Rugby World Cup  Pool A match at the Millennium stadium in Cardiff. Photograph: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

Free-spirited Fiji run in stunning try at Millennium Stadium

 Rob Kearney scores his  try against Canada last Sunday. Photo: Andrew Couldridge/Reuters

Simon Zebo to start at fullback with Robbie Henshaw to finally see some action

Tyler Morgan will partner Jamie Roberts in the Welsh midfield. Photograph: Getty

Loss of Nemani Nadolo and Nikola Matawalu to prove a major blow for Pacific Islanders

Peter O’Mahony and Jonathan Sexton go through their warm-up routines ahead of Ireland squad training at Surrey Sports Park in Guilford. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Versatile Munster man eyeing starting fullback spot if injury rules out Leinster rival

Jared Payne is an injury doubt for the upcoming Italy game. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Fullback Rob Kearney remains the other doubt for Italy game

Robbie Henshaw during a gym session at  Surrey Sports Park in Guildford on Tuesday. The Connacht centre is in line to make his World Cup debut against Italy next Sunday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Robbie Henshaw expected to make World cup debut against Italy

Ireland centre Jared Payne in action against Romania at Wembley. “He is probably one of the best passers of the ball in the squad,” says Tommy Bowe. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

World Cup pundits blaming Ireland’s lack of attacking fluidity on centre from New Zealand

Rob Kearney may have suffered a gluteal strain in scoring a try (above) against Romania. Photograph: Paul Gilham/Getty Images.

Rob Kearney a doubt for match against Italy, with Rob Henshaw likely to return

Rob Kearney is a doubt for Ireland’s Rugby World Cup fixture against Italy after he suffered a gluteal strain after scoring his side’s fifth try in the 44-10 win over Romania at Wembley. Photograph: Inpho

Fullback suffered a gluteal strain during Ireland’s win over Romania at Wembley

Jared Payne tries to get past Romania’s  Adrian Apostol at Wembley. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland’s cleverest of Kiwi recruits never quits – pick any phase of play and there he is

Uncompromising Springbok secondrow Eben Etzebeth manhandles Samoa’s Ken Pisi at Villa Park. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

South Africa get World Cup back on track with victory over Samoa but injuries mount up

Devin Toner and Keith Earls celebrate after Earls scored Ireland’s opening try of the Rugby World Cup pool match against Romania. Photo: Andrew Coulridge/Reuters

Competition for places becoming fiercer by the minute

 Samoa’s Viliamu Afatia is tackled by South Africa’s Lodewyk De Jager and Frans Malherbe during the Rugby World Cup  Pool B match at  Villa Park in Birmingham. Photograph:  David Jonjes/EPA

Gavin Cummiskey gauges the mood as Springboks roar back to life against Samoa

 South Africa’s Duane Vermeulen: “If we don’t win we are out. We have to give our all. I’m ready to do that.” Photo:  Steve Haag/Gallo Images

South Africa to rely on traditional game to banish memories of defeat to Japan

Ian Madigan in action during Ireland’s final training session at  St George’s Park in Burton-on-Trent. Photograph:  Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Brother Dave’s tips on playing number nine could benefit the younger Madigan

Ireland manager Joe Schmidt has made 12 changes for Sunday’s Rugby World Cup pool C clash with Romania at Wembley. Photograph: Inpho

Cian Healy starts at Wembley while Ian Madigan is preferred to Paddy Jackson

Cian Healy is set to start for Ireland against Romania at Wembley on Sunday. Photograph: Inpho

Manager Mick Kearney confirms every member of 31-man squad fit for Wembley

Mark Bennett celebrates after scoring his second try during Scotland’s 45-10 win over Japan at Kingsholm. Photograph: Reuters

Vern Cotter’s side open World Cup campaign in style with comfortable win over Japan

South Africa’s head coach Heyneke Meyer attends a press conference at International Congress Center in Birmingham. Photograph: Getty Images

‘If we back each other more SA will be much better place with less hate and violence’

South Africa’s lock Lood de Jager, prop Tendai Mtawarira and backrow Francois Louw: “It is really going to be a test of character this week.” Photograph: Bertrand Langlois/AFP/Getty Images

Springboks accept loss to Japan but say it is now time to move on and face up to reality

Cian Healy made his return to the Ireland team against Canada in Cardiff. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ireland prop admits nerve damage affected not only career but also quality of life

 Ireland outhalf Johnny  Sexton offloads to  Luke Fitzgerald during the Pool D game against Canada at the Millennium Stadium. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Connacht centre set to shake off hamstring strain and train during week

Ireland hooker  Rory Best gets tackled by Canada’s Djustice Sears-Duru  during Rugby World Cup Pool D game at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Photograph:  Mike Egerton/PA

Iain Henderson sticks his head that little bit higher in Cardiff

Iain Henderson, supported by Luke Fitzgerald, run at the Canadian defence during the  Rugby World Cup Group D encounter at the Milennium Stadium in Cardiff. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Coach confirms that Darren Cave will be involved against Romania

Jamie Heaslip with Keith Earls during the Irish team’s captain’s run. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

‘You think it’s going to be really dry, but with the roof closed the ball can be a bit slippy’

Keith Earls and Luke Fitzgerald at Ireland training in Cardiff. “Anywhere on the pitch I’d love to see Luke Fitzgerald,” says the Munster man. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho.

Sons of famous fathers have inherited grit and we are all better for it

Ireland’s Conor Murray was withdrawn  during the World Cup Warm up match at Twickenham Stadium against England after he picked up a head injury. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

The Ireland scrum-half says that none of the injuries were serious head traumas

Head coach Joe Schmidt has named Luke Fitzgerald at inside centre for Ireland’s World Cup opener. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Keith Earls and Iain Henderson earn starts as Ireland name team to face Canada

Ireland centre Jared Payne, seen here holding off George Ford at Twickenham, has become a pivotal part of the Ireland midfield. Photograph: Clive Rose/Getty Images

Ireland centre emerged just as rugby fraternity fretted over Brian O’Driscoll successor

Luke Fitzgerald is set to start alongside Jared Payne in Ireland’s midfield for the opening World Cup game against Canada. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Extent of Connacht centre’s injury will be revealed at Thursday’s team announcement

Dublin’s Alan Brogan: “Obviously there’s history there and a sense of occasion when you’re playing Kerry. My Mam is from Kerry so that brings its own little edge to it.” Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Dublin legend Alan Brogan may be the 15-minute man but he’s still hungry for success

Wexford manager JJ Doyle: “What we need to do now is to get over the line,” he says. “None of these guys ever won anything other than at under-21. Photograph: Sportsfile

Wexford manager says this may be last chance for this generation to win national title

Mayo’s Kevin McLoughlin and Dublin’s Cian O’Sullivan in action in the All-Ireland semi-final replay. Dublin manager Jim Gavin said: “Cian got cramp at the end of the game.” Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Jim Gavin expects his key defender to be available for selection against Kerry

The 2011 Rugby World Cup semi-final defeat to Wales was Ronan O’gara’s last appearance for Ireland. Photograph: Getty

Ireland and Munster legend looks back on the Battle of Bordeaux and vying with Sexton

Republic of Ireland midfielder Wes Hoolahan  beats Ucha Lobjanidze of Georgia to the ball during the  Euro 2016 Group D qualifying match  at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Ian Walton/Getty Images

Jeff Hendrick provides only real moment of class to set up winner

England’s flanker Chris Robshaw  is tackled by Ireland’s  Rory Best and   Jack McGrath  during Saturday’s Rugby World Cup warm-up match at Twickenham. Photograph: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images

O’Mahony believes Ireland are building nicely, but have huge amount of work to do

England winger Jonny May celebrates scoring their first try during the World Cup warm-up  at Twickenham. Photograph: Clive Rose/Getty Images

Coach confirms that Conor Murray’s will be fit to start World Cup after knock to head

Gordon D’Arcy: “You stay at the table long enough and eventually you don’t get picked. That’s happened to me now. I’m very sanguine and relaxed about it all.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

The Ireland centre reflects on the highs and lows at the heart of Ireland’s best ever team

Tighthead Mike Ross (left) believes 22-year-old Tadhg Furlong has the talent to be Ireland’s versatile prop. Photograph: Inpho

Switching from tighthead to loosehead like trying to write with your left hand, says Ross

Simon Zebo has been named by Joe Schmidt at full-back to play against England in Ireland’s Rugby World Cup warm-up match this Saturday. Photo: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Cork winger selected ahead of Rob Kearney for Saturday’s game against England

Philly McMahon of Dublin with Aidan O’Shea of Mayo. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Noel Connelly’s main man was at the heart of the action once more for Mayo v Dublin

Paul O’Connell speaks to the team before the Wales game. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Gavin Cummiskey’s take on how the Irish players performed in the Aviva on Saturday

Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea and Philly McMahon come together during the All-Ireland SFC semi-final draw. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Mayo full-forward was in for some tough treatment from Dublin’s Philly McMahon

Kildare’s Conor Hartley and Tipperary’s Emmett Moloney, who was sent off during the  All-Ireland minor football semi-final at  Croke Park. Photograph: Inpho

Tipperary also survived the sending off of Emmett Moloney for a second yellow card

Ireland flanker Jordi Murphy had a tough day against the outstanding Justin Tipuric of Wales during the World Cup warm-up at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph:  James Crombie/Inpho

Henderson the Godsend; Joe’s not showing his hand; unlucky Luke; Chris edging Jordi; The final cut

Ireland’s Dave Kearney claims a high ball during the World Cup warm-up game against Wales at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph:   Cathal McNaughton/Action Images via Reuters/Livepic

Wales coach has a cut off Joe Schmidt’s tactics after win in Dublin

Robbie Henshaw and Dave Kearney during an Ireland training session at Carton House, Maynooth, on Thursday. Billy Stickland/Inpho.

Talented winger’s performances have put him on the cusp of World Cup squad

Dave Kearney starts on the Ireland team named on Thursday to play Wales at the Aviva on Saturday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

The number 14 will start against Wales on Saturday with Luke Fitzgerald at 13

Kurt McQuilkin: “Coaching a club that you really care about, you know? We had a good amount of success at the time and, yeah, it  just ingrained something in me.” Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Former Leinster captain couldn’t resist the invitation to rejoin the province’s coaching team

New Leinster coach Leo Cullen at a press conference in UCD. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Appointment as head coach of 37-year-old student of the game should not surprise

Connacht scrumhalf Kieran Marmion still has a chance of making Ireland’s World Cup squad. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho.

Connacht scrumhalf is broadening skill range to push for international recognition

Kevin McLaughlin will captain Leinster during the World Cup. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Tighthead prop still expected to be available for Ireland’s warm-up game against Wales

Leinster tighthead prop Marty Moore had shoulder surgery twice in seven months. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.

Tighthead has to have game time if he is to make Ireland’s World Cup squad

Stephen Ferris was arguably the most destructive flanker ever to play for Ireland. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Former Ulster flanker was blighted by injury but career was full of highlights

Ian Madigan launches a pinpoint crossfield kick for Luke Fitzgerald to score a try in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup warm-up match against Scotland at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Versatile back Ian Madigan still exuding self-belief, still fielding old questions

Tipperary’s Seamus Callanan wins the ball ahead of Padraig Mannion of Galway to score his sides second goal. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Canning’s 10 points in match puts player up to 4-47 for the championship

Ireland fullback Simon Zebo is tackled during the World Cup warm-up game against Scotland at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph:   Billy Stickland/Inpho

Joe Schmidt reports clean bill of health after Luke Fitzgerald’s late try seals warm-up win

New IRFU president Martin O’Sullivan. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho.

Billy Glynn questions ‘flawed and mismanaged’ process that brought reforms in union

Toulon players celebrate after the European Champions Cup final win against Clermont Auvergne at Twickenham in May. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho.

Hectic opening-pool rounds fixture list to be concluded by January of next year

IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has confirmed a new sponsor will take over from Three in May 2016. Photograph: Inpho

Chief executive Philip Browne confirms a new sponsor is in place to take over next year

Ireland’s Six Nations win was a major factor in the IRFU’s “strong financial performance” in the 2014/15 season. Photograph: Getty

Funding for both the provincial and club game able to increase by €4 million

Irish flanker Chris Henry:  “If you do something that makes somebody look good it is noticed . . .” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Speedy recovery following stroke puts Ulster flanker back in World Cup frame

Jack Conan will make his debut against Scotland. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Cian Healy’s chances of returning are now being rated at 70-30 percent against

Monaghan’s Ciarán McManus and Galway hurler Jonathan Glynn with their Opel GAA/GPA All-Star awards for July at Croke Park.  Photograph:  David Maher/Sportsfile

Monaghan star says refereees need more help on match days from other officials

Tipperary manager Eamon O’Shea gives last-minute instructions to his players before the Munster final against Waterford. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

‘Galway have been really good this year . . and I think they are a really formidable team’

Dublin footballer Philly McMahon at the launch of the Griffith College certificate in dual career development in sport: he said he is capable of marking any player. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Dublin corner-back yet to see Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea play as All-Ireland semi-final nears

Galways supporting cast has made star man Joe Canning even more of a threat. Photograph: Inpho

Tribesmen’s new tactical set-up under has seen them greatly improve this year

Tyrone’s Justin McMahon puts the shackles on  Monaghan’s Owen Duffy at Croke Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Veteran defender knows taking on the champions will prove a massive task

Waterford manager Derek McGrath: “Every team wants to be like Kilkenny.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Déise manager and the board have discussed plans for years after 2016

Kilkenny’s manager Brian Cody is reflecting on yet another All-Ireland final appearance. Photograoh: James Crombie/Inpho

McGrath admits sustaining intensity against Kilkenny proved difficult

Galway’s Jack Coyne gets away from Kilkenny’s Conor Doheny during the All-Ireland minor hurling semi-final at Croke Park. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Kilkenny and young Tribesmen produce an enthralling drawn minor semi-final

Donnacha Ryan in action during the Ireland squad’s training session at Carton House, Kildare yesterday. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Iinpho

Munster stalwart is delighted to be fighting fit and back in the Ireland frame

Cian Healy training at Carton House on Thursday. The Ireland loosehead  will be given until the opening World Cup game against Canada to prove his fitness. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Prop will have until opening World Cup game against Canada to prove fitness

Donnacha Ryan is set to make his first Ireland appearance since March 2013. Photograph: Inpho

Rugby World Cup warm-up against Wales will be Ryan’s first game under Joe Schmidt

The 33-year-old Mark Chisholm has 58 caps for Australia. Photograph:  David Rogers/Getty Images

Mark Chisholm fills gap left by Paul O’Connell’s departure to Toulon

A crowd of 58,680 were present for Sunday’s All-Ireland football championship double header. Photograph: Inpho

Seán Moran and Gavin Cummiskey with the main talking points from the weekend

 Fermanagh manager Pete McGrath and his players salute the team’s fans after Dublin’s victory at Croke Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Pete McGrath proud to see players receive rapturous reception from supporters

Donegal captain Michael Murphy caused Galway’s defence plenty of problems during the  All-Ireland round 4B qualifier at Croke Park. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

‘That’ll never leave their game. They are good at it, why would they change it completely’

Colm McFadden looks on as Donegal’s Patrick McBrearty scores his side’s opening goal at Croke Park. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Magnificent Murphy to the fore as Galway are overrun in a one-sided second half

Donegal’s Patrick McBrearty celebrates scoring the opening goal with Colm McFadden during the  All-Ireland  Round 4B qualifier at Croke Park. Photograph:  Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Captain proves fitness with brilliant display in midfield and attack

Fermanagh manager Pete McGrath must now prepare his players for Dublin and not Kerry. Photograph: Andrew Paton/Presseye/Inpho

Mayo and Monaghan await winners of Sligo/Tyrone and Donegal/Galway clashes

Waterford’s Austin Gleeson scores a side line puck against Dublin. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

‘Ravenous’ Kilkenny present biggest challenge yet for season’s surprise packets

Alan Smith goes past Brian O’Driscoll during Kildare’s victory over Cork in the final round of the football qualifiers. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Kerry manager not surprised by Lilywhite victory over Cork in Semple Stadium

It’s been a contrasting week for Cork and Galway GAA. Photograph: Inpho

Gavin Cummiskey and Ian O’Riordan with the main talking points from the weekend

 Maurice Shanahan celebrates after Waterford’s quater-final victory over Dublin.  Photograph: Inpho/Morgan Treacy

Waterford ‘need to drive on’ against Kilkenny after beating Dublin

Joe Canning says he is getting sick of people taking about what a good year Galway had in 2012. Photograph: David Maher / Sportsfile

Memory of 2012 disappointment lingers on but the Galway star is quietly optimistic

Kildare’s Paul Cribbin celebrates after his side beat Cork to reach the All-Ireland quarter-finals. Photo: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Milestone victory puts Lilywhites back on centre stage as Cork leave it behind

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