The All Blacks were far superiour to the Lions at Eden Park. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

Aaron Smith, Sam Cane and Kieren Read excel as New Zealand take a 1-0 series lead

Conor Murray of the Lions breaks with the ball during the Test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

John O’Sullivan runs the rule over Warren Gatland’s defeated side

New Zealand’s All Blacks coach Steve Hansen watches his players training during their captain’s run ahead of the first Test against New Zealand. Photo: Peter Parks/Getty Images

Pen pics of the 15 All Blacks players set to take on the Lions at Eden Park on Saturday

The Lions team in a huddle during the captain’s run ahead of the first Test against the All Blacks. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

The 15 tourists tasked with inflicting a first defeat on All Blacks in Eden Park since 1994

Ciaran Fitzgerald with All Black’s captain Andy Dalton during the 1983 tour. Photo: Bob Thomas/Getty Images

The Corkman becomes the latest Irish player to lead out the Lions for a Test match

Victories over Pakistan, England and the West Indies were a semi-regular reminder to the ICC that Ireland’s desire for full member status was not some pie-in-the-sky aspiration. Above: Ireland’s William Porterfield. Photograph: Inpho

Upgrade from ICC would allow Ireland to play against world’s best cricketing countries

Is Liam Williams a better option than George North on the left wing? Some rugby writers in New Zealand think so.

New Zealand press, by and large, tip their hat to the tourists after Chiefs midweek win

British and Irish Lions’ Jared Payne goes over for a try during the win over the Chiefs at the FMG Stadium, Hamilton.

John O’Sullivan runs the rule over Warren Gatland’s men following win in Hamilton

Warren Gatland saw his Lions side beaten for a second time on Saturday morning. Photograph: Davia Davies/PA

New Zealand media hail a magical night for the Highlanders as Lions are beaten again

Ronan Kelleher scored for Ireland Under-20s during their vital win in Georgia. Photograph: Levan Verdzeuli/Inpho

Peter Malone’s side have avoided relegation play-off after first tournament win in Georgia

The combination of Jonathan Sexton and Owen Farrell in the 10-12 axis was a huge boost to the Lions after Jonathan Davies was forced off with a head injury. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Warren Gatland’s side will have to start taking try chances before Test series

Lions’ Liam Williams leaves the pitch with the rest of the team after their win over the Crusaders. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

John O’Sullivan runs the rule over a much improved touring side

Former Wales international Ieuan Evans picks out Munster during the Champions Cup draw at  Chateau de Neuchâtel in Switzerland. Photograph:  Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Donnacha Ryan set for quick return to Thomond Park with Racing 92; Leinster paired with English champions Exeter

British and Irish Lions have a team huddle behind a “Maori Warrior” at Eden Park in Auckland. Photograph: Getty Images

Poor kick/chase, losing breakdown battle, set piece, scripted attack and defensive concern

Maro Itoje was one of the Lions’ stand out performers as they were beaten by the Blues in Auckland. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

John O’Sullivan runs the rule over tourists as they are beaten by the Blues at Eden Park

Connacht’s record try scorer Fionn Carr is a key member of the Ireland sevens set-up. Photograph: Inpho

John O’Sullivan profiles winners of first leg of Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix series

The draw for the 2017/18 Champions Cup takes place on Thursday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Munster could enter next year’s tournament as top seeds with Leinster in second tier

The Ulster man gave it all in the Lions’ 1938 South Africa tour and the second World War

Saracens’ Mako Vunipola and Dave Kilcoyne of Munster at the European Rugby Champions Cup semi-final at the  Aviva Stadium in April. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The Limerick man is determined to give his all for Munster in Saturday’s Pro12 final

Nigel Owens: generally recognised as one of the best referees of his or indeed any other generation.

Rassie Erasmus’s side have been penalised more than rivals Scarlets by Nigel Owens

Niall Scannell in action against Ospreys in the Pro12 semi-final at Thomond Park last Saturday. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

We have a chance to go and do something great in final, says Munster hooker

Munster Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus: “I must take half of the blame because we didn’t talk too much sense at half-time.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho.

Failure to see through half-time advantage was down to ‘stupid things I said’

Munster’s Tyler Bleyendaal: “We know we’re playing the Scarlets, who are incredibly dangerous, and we’re going to be under pressure at times. The crowd might help us get out of those holes as well.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Province will need supporters behind them as they take on Scarlets in Pro12 final at Aviva

Keith Earls is expected to shake off an ankle injury and be available for Munster’s Pro 12 final against Scarlets at the Aviva Stadium next Saturday. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Keith Earls and Andrew Conway to take part in light training session on Monday

Munster’s Francis Saili and Donnacha Ryan wave goodbye to the crowd at Thomond Park following their Pro12 semi-final win over Ospreys. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Departing Francis Saili enlivens team in Pro12 semi-final win over Ospreys

Munster’s Simon Zebo and fellow teammates try to lift Donnacha Ryan into the air at the end of the game. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Peter O’Mahony spoke about a season full of highs and one particular tragic low point

Opening try scorer Francis Saili delivered a man of the match performance on his final Thomond Park appearance. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Province set up Scarlets showdown after dismissing Ospreys at Thomond Park

Secondrow Donnacha Ryan is among the players leaving Munster in the summer. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Returning Lions boost Welsh club’s chances but home side should triumph in semi-final

Francis Saili is to leave Munster at the end of the season. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Ian Keatley and Jaco Taute both sign contract extensions as New Zealander departs

Paul Wallace played all three Lions Tests in South Africa in 1997 having been called up as a replacement. Photograph: Bily Stickland/Inpho

Many Irish players have full-blooded Pro12 clashes before they join up with squad

Paul Boyle will lead Ireland under-20s in Georgia. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

No playing survivors remain from the side beaten in last year’s World Cup final

Leinster’s Hayden Triggs: “The game is different (now), and it’s almost like I don’t like it anymore.” Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Kiwi is planning for retirement and says that the game has moved to a place he doesn’t like

Ireland travel to play France on the opening weekend of the 2018 Six Nations. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ireland’s 2018 campaign bookended by trips to France and England, rest weekends stay

Andrew Porter and Joey Carbery are two of the younger players in the Leinster squad encouraged to speak up. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Stuart Lancaster says all young players are encouraged to speak up and give their view

Garry Ringrose: “Six months ago I made my debut for Ireland and I didn’t think I would ever be namechecked by Warren Gatland to do with the Lions.” Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Leinster and Ireland centre focusing on Friday’s Pro12 semi-final against Scarlets

Leinster’s Sean Cronin looks set to miss their Pro12 semi-final clash with Scarlets. Photo: Inpho

Sean O’Brien has returned to full training after a month out with a hamstring issue

IRFU’s head of international talent ID and development Joe Lydon: “Success has to be Ireland as a national team doing well. But it may be that means that there are no IQ players involved.” Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images

IRFU’s head of international talent brings raft of experience and passion to new role

 Julian Savea of the Hurricanes makes a break on his way to scoring a try during the  Super Rugby match against  the Stormers. Photograph:Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Likes of Hurricanes and Highlanders are dominating the Super Rugby Championship

IJoe Schmidt poses during the Rugby World Cup 2019 draw in Kyoto, Japan. Photograph: Reuters

New Zealand or South Africa our likely quarter-final opponents in Japan

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt arrives for the Rugby World Cup pool draw with Wales head coach Warren Gatland. Photograph: Issei Kato/Reuters

Joe Schmidt’s Ireland side avoid big guns in favourable World Cup pool draw

Kevin Maggs has been appointed as the IQ Regional Talent Coach in Britain. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

Union restructuring current network which will now be known as the IQ programme

Johnny Sexton and Peter O’Mahony are two of Ireland’s healthy representation in next month’s  Lions tour to New Zealand. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Season’s work with province far from done but selection for All Blacks trip an honour

Cork Constitution captain Niall Kenneally lifts the cup after his side’s league final win over Clontarf. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Con lift fourth trophy of the season after win over defending champions Clontarf

Clontarf celebrate as  Matt D’Arcy goes over for a try against Cork Con during last year’s final. Photograph: Colm O’Neill/Inpho

Cork outfit possess the more imposing pack but holders ’Tarf pose a real threat out wide

Cork Constitution’s Gavin Duffy with Ben Reilly of Clontarf at the Aviva Stadium prior to Sunday’s Ulster Bank League Division 1A final. “It was our mission to get back here,” said Duffy.  Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Con loosehead prop Gavin Duffy says they are ‘definitely hungrier’ ahead of final

Ospreys’ Dan Biggar  celebrates with team-mate Scott Baldwin after the 31-30 victory over Leinster in the 2012 PRO12 final at the RDS. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

No club which has finished third or fourth has managed to reach final in seven seasons

Andy Wood: “We have guys who have been there [Clontarf] since they were four or five years of age, playing all the way through.” Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Sunday’s showdown with Cork Con a fourth league final in a row for reigning champions

Ireland Under-20 fullback  Jordan Larmour will miss the Junior World Championship in Georgia after undergoing ankle surgery. Photograph:  James Crombie/Inpho

Interim coach Peter Malone could be without some key players for tournament in Georgia

Mike Ross: announced his retirement this week but will feature in the Leinster team to host Glasgow Warriors.  Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

A late change by Leinster sees the injured Jack Conan replaced by Dan Leavy for Warriors visit

 Munster scrumhalf Duncan Williams box kicks during the  Champions Cup semi-final against Saracens at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images.

Rugby Stats: Relentless Saracens pressure contributed to second-half deterioration

Leinster’s Johnny Sexton: “I don’t think you always have to go through losses to be successful.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Outhalf hopes province can underline progress by finishing the season unbeaten

Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster and head coach Leo Cullen at the club training session in UCD on Monday. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Leinster coach backs players but bemoans little errors that cost a lot in loss to Clermont

Rory Best leads out the Lions against the ACT Brumbies at Canberra Stadium in 2013. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

‘Mentally, I wasn’t in a good enough place to go out there and take the opportunity’

 Chris Wyles goes over to score Saracens’ second try in the Champions Cup semi-final against Munster  at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Rassie Erasmus’s side had their chances before English side slammed the door shut

Andrew Conway on his way to scoring a try against Newport Gwent Dragons at Musgrave Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Underage superstar flourishing at Munster after struggling with transition to senior game

Johnny Sexton kicks a penalty for Leinster. A team that kicks the first penalty in a European Cup semi-final has prevailed in 19 (59 per cent) matches. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

In last 32 Champions Cup semi-finals first team to cross whitewash won two-thirds of time

Keith Earls in action against Toulouse in the quarter-final. “We won’t be scared of pressure this week. I don’t think young lads feel pressure any more in this squad, which is weird.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Aviva outing against Saracens presents ideal opportunity to end semi-final hoodoo

Warren Gatland will announce his squad for the Lions tour on Wednesday. Photo: Andrew Boyers/Reuters

Warren Gatland will announce his squad at midday on Wednesday for the summer series

Munster’s Duncan Williams in action against Glasgow.The experienced scrum-half has proved a capable deputy to Conor Murray. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Munster coach has full confidence in Duncan Williams’ ability to man scrum-half berth

Munster’s Rory Scannell may be fit to face Saracens despite spraining his anke against Ulster. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

The centre’s ankle sprain which he suffered against Ulster is not as bad as first feared

Eric Trump takes to the redesigned greens at Trump International Doonbeg this week. Photograph: Eamon Ward

Eric Trump describes pride at overseeing transformation of Doonbeg golf course

England’s George Ford grabs a fistful of jersey to prevent Garry Ringrose making a clean  break at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Joe Schmidt’s team were more willing to offload in this year’s tournament

Dave Kearney: Ireland wing has made only seven appearances for Leinster this season.  Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Back has endured a frustrating season with injuries and aims to make a mark against Connacht

 Jamie Heaslip will not feature for Leinster in Galway. Photograph:  Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Ireland internationals will miss Connacht match next weekend

James Coughlan after Munster were beaten by Toulon in the 2014 Heineken Cup semi-final. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

We speak to three players who departed Irish shores for the benefit of their careers

Bordeaux-Begles’  Ian Madigan will be leaving the French Top 14 for English Championship side Bristol. Photograph: Nicolas Tucat/AFP/Getty Images

Transfers to English Premiership and French Top 14 now more difficult for Irish players

Johnny Sexton had a 100 per cent tackle success rate in the 2017 Six Nations. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Outhalf’s bravery and game management attested to by visual evidence and statistics

Leinster’s Joey Carbery celebrates with Fergus McFadden after his try. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

‘In second half, it was disappointing we didn’t respect the ball well enough at times’

Leinster’s Joey Carbery steps past Kurtley Beale of Wasps during his team’s win at the Aviva. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

But for a final pass here and knock-on there, Leinster could’ve won by a lot more at Aviva

Ian Madigan prepares to kick from the tee during during Bordeaux-Begles’  home win over Toulouse last weekend. Photograph: Nicolas Tucat/AFP/Getty Images

Bordeaux-Begles outhalf says recent poor results fail to reflect French outfit’s ability

Munster's CJ Stander is a long way ahead of anyone else in the Champions Cup in terms of carries made. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Leinster and Wasps show little difference in attack but Irish province are better in scrum

 Peter O’Mahony , fresh from his man-of-the-match performance in Ireland’s win over England, returns to captain Munster. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Rassie Erasmus names strong line-up for visit to Pro12 bottom club Zebre

Scotland’s Six Nations 2017 Player of the Year Stuart Hogg will turn out for Warriors on Saturday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho.

Pat Lam excited about possibility of extending winning streak by taking a first win at Warriors

Ireland’s Jamie Heaslip, who was a late withdrawl from the game, watches Ireland beat England. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Duo both underwent procedures during the week and will miss Champions Cup match

South African referee Jaco Peyper talks to Ireland captain Rory Best during the game against New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium last November. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Romain Poite, Jérôme Garcès and Jaco Peyper to take charge of key games

Nigel Carolan will step down as Ireland under-20 coach to join the coaching staff at Connacht. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

Peter Malone to take charge of underage side for Junior World Championship

Marcell Coetzee will undergo surgery to repair a significant tear to the cartilage in a knee. Photograph: Matt Mackey/Inpho/Presseye

South African did not suffer recurrence of ACL that delayed him making his Ulster debut

There’s still plenty up for grabs in this season’s Pro12. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Munster well placed to secure home semi-final with their remaining fixtures

The successful Lions squad following the third Test win over Australia in Sydney in 2013. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Six Nations winners are usually rewarded with the biggest representation on tour

Cian Healy: “We [Ireland] lost two so that’s a bit annoying and there’s a lot to be worked on.” Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Prop looking forward to Cardiff Blues test after returning from Six Nations duty

Pictured today at the official reception at Aviva Stadium as part of a two day site visit by the World Rugby Technical Review Group is (L-R) Jack Kelly (Ireland U20 Captain), Rory Best (Ireland Captain) and Niamh Briggs (Ireland Women’s Captain). Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

The World Rugby Technical Review Group are currently on a two day visit to Dublin

Andrew Conway celebrates Ireland’s win over England in their Six Nations clash at Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Making his debut as replacement for injured Keith Earls, 25-year-old showed star quality

Simon Zebo and man of the match Peter O’Mahony celebrate after Ireland’s 13-9 win over England. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Schmidt’s side in good shape ahead of summer but win should be viewed in isolation

Jonathan Sexton and Owen Farrell in action during the Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

John O’Sullivan hands out the marks after an outstanding win for Joe Schmidt’s side

England’s Max Malins and Joe Cokanasiga get to grips with Gavin Mullin. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

Fullback Jordan Larmour tops a list of impressive Irish performances at Donnybrook

John O’Sullivan looks at the Irish starting XV to face England

Shannon’s John Foley, in action here for Munster ‘A’, will win his first cap at blindside flanker. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Grand Slam-chasing visitors have been the outstanding side in this season’s tournament

World Rugby have announced a new yearly schedule, which will include an earlier start date for the Rugby World Cup. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Changes include moving summer tours back to July and will take effect from 2020-2032

Keith Wood  scores a try as Ireland deny England a Grand Slam in 2001. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

England travel to Lansdowne Road for fourth time seeking Six Nation’s ultimate prize

 Ireland’s  Tadhg Furlong attempts to block down a kick from Rhys Webb of Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Mistakes in disappointing defeat to Wales still rankling with powerful Ireland prop

Keith Earls sat out Ireland training on Monday with a groin problem. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Ireland winger skipped Monday’s session with a groin problem but expected to be fit

Ireland lost their second game of the Six Nations against Wales. Photograph: Inpho

John O’Sullivan looks at where Ireland need to make changes ahead of England game

Justin Tipuric helped Wales dominate the backrow battle against Ireland in Cardiff. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty

John O’Sullivan runs the rule over a victorious Welsh side at the Millennium Stadium

Robbie Henshaw made a number of huge contributions and one key mistake as Ireland lost a bruising encounter with Wales in Cardiff. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

John O’Sullivan marks Joe Schmidt’s side after a brutal and bruising defeat in Cardiff

Jack Kelly: returns at centre for Ireland having missed the last two games due to a shoulder injury. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

If the pack can set the correct platform, the visitors have the backline to prosper

We run the rule over the Welsh selection

John O’Sullivan looks at Joe Schmidt’s Ireland selection

Johnny Sexton offloads to Garry Ringrose during Ireland’s Six Nations match against France. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho.

Joe Schmidt's side are the standard bearers in a number of areas so far this year

Ireland’s Iain Henderson is wary of the Welsh threat from the lineout. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho.

Hooker Ken Owens hasn’t missed a single target from his throws in the Six Nations

Jack Kelly is set to return to the Ireland U20 side fore Saturday’s game away to Wales. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Fullback has recovered from shoulder injury ahead of Saturday’s game

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