Andrew Trimble:  will pop up from the blindside wing, taking passes inside or outside outhalf Christian Lealiifano. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Andrew Trimble, Tommy Bowe and Darren Cave all selected to start in France

David Kilcoyne: he scored one try, might have had another and gave Munster multiple positive gain-lines in an outstanding display  against Castres. Photograph: Dan Sheridan

Munster pair stand out as making a huge number of metres despite their positions

Australia head coach Michael Cheika gives instructions to his players during a Wallabies training session earlier this month. Photograph: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images

This will be the first time that the Lansdowne Cup will be contested over three games

 Leinster’s Tadhg Furlong is  tackled during their victory over Munster on Saturday. Photograph:  Billy Stickland/Inpho

Despite results Leinster’s tackling could be sharper while turnovers are hurting Ulster

Leinster’s Devin Toner and Peter O’Mahony of Munster compete for the ball during their Pro14 clash at the Aviva Stadium. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Analysing the key aspects of both side's performances before the big European kick-off

Paul Dunne of Ireland celebrates making a birdie on the 16th during day two of the  Alfred Dunhill Championship at Carnoustie. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

Tommy Fleetwood cards course-record 63 at Carnoustie to share lead with defending champion Tyrrell Hatton

Robbie Henshaw makes his first start  of the season for Leinster on Saturday. Photograph: Inpho

There’s no place for Sean O’Brien as Munster go with Tyler Bleyendaal and Ian Keatley

Stuart McCloskey:  has been very effective on the gainline so far this season for Ulster. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Defeat to Zebre will have concentrated minds within Jono Gibbes’ Ulster squad

Ulster’s Iain Henderson is named in the backrow for Connacht encounter. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Matt Healy back for Connacht, as hosts make nine changes for Kingspan Stadium clash

Leinster’s Jack Conan on the attack against the Southern Kings at a sparsely populated Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Photograph: Ryan Wilkisky/Inpho

Almost 14,000 that watched Zebre clash more than doubles record first home crowd

Neville Furlong in action for Ireland during the 1992  tour of New Zealand. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Garryowen and Connacht player scored Ireland’s last four-point try on Test debut in New Zealand

Garth McGimpsey (Royal Portrush) pitching to the 10th green in the semi-final of the AIG Senior Cup at Carton House. Photograph: Pat Cashman

Portrush veteran loses after 28 years away as victors look to finish job against Limerick

Ballybunion’s hero Brian Slattery and team-mates (from left) Philip Byrne, Ronan Cross, Frank Geary and Adrian Walsh after their victory in the final of the AIG Junior Cup at Carton House.  hotograph:  Pat Cashman

Brian Slattery comes from three down after eight to win 2/1 on 17th thanks to 100-ft putt

Joe Lyons  of Galway driving at the eighth in the AIG Barton Shield at Carton House on Wednesday. Photograph:  Pat Cashman

Hurling giant gives talk ahead of All-Ireland Cup and Shields finals at Carton House

Ireland captain Rory Best could miss the November tests through injury. Photograph: Inpho

Leinster fullback Rob Kearney ruled out for six to eight weeks with a hamstring injury

Rory Scholes: makes his first start of the season for Connacht against Dragons at Rodney Parade. Photograph: Tommy Grealy/Inpho

Head coach Bernard Jackman hoping to lead Welsh outfit to a first league victory

Leigh Halfpenny: will man the fullback berth for Scarlets against Ulster. Photograph: Simon King/Camerasport/Inpho

Reigning champions have three Lions available against depleted home side in Belfast

Wayne Barnes will referee Leinster’s Champions Cup opener. Photograph: Inpho

England’s Wayne Barnes will take charge of Leinster’s clash with Montpellier at the RDS

Ulster’s Tommy Bowe: “I feel fit. I feel probably as good as I felt in a few years. If that call came I’d be more than delighted.” Photograph: Giuseppe Fama/Inpho

Monaghan man finds himself wearing number 13 for Ulster in early league matches

Ulster assistant coach Dwayne Peel: “It is going to be a tough, tough game for us.”

Pro14: Skills coach admits Scarlets are coming to Kingspan stadium as the form team

The Leinster squad going through their paces at training  at   UCD, Dublin. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Rob Kearney, Dan Leavy, Devin Toner and Scott Fardy among those not travelling

 Garry Ringrose: player  racking up 22 matches for Leinster in 2015-2016 and then last season lining out for a further 17 times for the province. Photograph:  James Crombie/Inpho

Player who underwent surgery after Japan tour seeks to improve ‘all aspects of game’

Bernard Laporte: allegedly intervened on behalf of Mohed Altrad and Montpellier. Photograph: Jean Catuffe/Getty

Emmanuel Macron opts out of France’s delegation to World Rugby in London

Cork Constitution’s Niall Kenneally and team-mates celebrate the Division 1A final victory over Clontarf at the Aviva. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Champions’ captain expecting another competitive season in Div 1A of Ulster Bank League

New Ulster coach Jono Gibbes. Photograph: Darren Kidd/Inpho

New Zealander’s relationship with Les Kiss made his decision an easy one

Rory O’Loughlin: “I got great feedback off the coaches on what I need to do this season and what to improve on.”  Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Leinster man aiming to build on the huge progress made over the last 12 months

Devin Toner: “I would be the first to say  Leinster put a lot of faith in me, a lot of work, and I am really grateful for it.”   Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

Towering secondrow could make his 200th appearance for Leinster at RDS on Friday

Luke McGrath is available for Leinster selection for Friday night’s clash with Cardiff. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Jordi Murphy must prove his fitness ahead of Friday night’s Pro 14 clash with Cardiff

Jarrad Butler of Connacht. His side face a tough opening game against  the Warriors. Photograph: Getty Images

Irish internationals Kieran Marmion, Finlay Bealham and Ultan Dillane named in starting team

Scott Fardy: the Australian international  will play his  first competitive match for Leinster

Rob Kearney and captain Isa Nacewa to provide experience in youthful backline

Munster’s James Hart in action during  the pre-eason friendly against Worcester Warriors at the  Sixways Stadium, Worcester. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

James Hart and prop Ciaran Park set to make their competitive debuts for province

Stuarat McCloskey pursued by some of his team-mates in a light-hearted moment during Ulster’s captain’s run  at the Kingspan Stadium  in Belfast. Photograph: Stephen Hamilton/Presseye/Inpho

Jono Gibbes looking to a winning start as province’s new head coach

Seán Cronin at a Leinster  squad training session at  Rosemount, UCD, Dublin. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

Leinster hooker has adopted a new attitude after been out of action for six months with injuries

Jamie Heaslip and Jack Conan in action during training with Leinster’s squad at Rosemount, UCD.  Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

Number eight has been out with a back injury since eve of game against England

Willie Duggan: popular Kilkenny man won 41 caps for Ireland between 1975-1984. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ireland's outstanding number eight dies at age 67 of a suspected heart attack

Leinster applaud their fans after beating Bath in a pre-season friendly. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

However, Leinster’s Lions will not be available until probably round five of the Pro14

 Kerry’s Kieran Donaghy under pressure from Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea last weekend.

Mayo or Kerry? Dublin or Tyrone? John Evans, Ronan McGarrity and Ciarán Murtagh have their say

Rassie Erasmus will return to take up a position with the South African rugby union later this year. Photograph: Inpho

Director of Rugby says he’ll depart ahead of schedule if suitable replacement found

Saracens are the current holders of the Champions Cup. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The three Irish provinces will face English opposition in back to back European ties

New Zealand players celebrate with try scorer Selica Winiata. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

World’s two top sides complete their pools unbeaten with wins over USA and Canada

New Zealand players celebrate the victory over Hong Kong in the Pool B clash at Billings Park UCD. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

England take on the USA while New Zealand lock horns with strong Canada side

Jack McGrath featured in all three Lions Tests against the All Blacks. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty

Ireland prop featured in seven of 10 games and came off the bench in all three Tests

France’s Chloe Pelle scores  against Australia in their Women’s Rugby World Cup encounter. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Serene progress contrasts with Irish struggles but hosts won last Six Nations meeting

It doesn’t get tougher than trying to end Dublin’s bid for an historic three-in-a row

Alex Matthews scores during England’s opening win over Spain. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Gulf in class clear as a sparse crowd turns up to watch World Cup opener at Belfield Bowl

Lions  Jack McGrath, Jonathan Sexton and Tadhg Furlong in their new Leinster kit.  Photograph: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Experienced outhalf looking forward to getting back into action with Leinster

 Mo Farah of Great Britain celebrates winning gold in the Men’s 10,000 metres final at the  16th IAAF World Athletics Championships in the  London Stadium. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty

Treatment of Gatlin in stark contrast to the refusal to ask questions about Mo Farah’s coach

Connacht have signed Andrew Deegan from the Waratahs. Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

John O’Sullivan takes a look at where the four teams are at before the new campaign

New Leinster signing Scott Fardy. Photograph: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

39-time capped Wallaby secondrow: ‘To join a club like this is a fantastic opportunity’

 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, home of the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth.  Photograph:  Richard Huggard/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Inclusion of Southern Kings and Toyota Cheetahs broadly welcomed by provinces

Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, home of the Southern Kings who, alongside Toyota Cheetahs, have been added to  Pro14

Format of tournament changes with arrival of Southern Kings and Toyota Cheetahs

John O’Sullivan (The Irish Times), Arklow captain Mark Byrne, lady captain Bernie Darcy, secretary Bob Deignan and Tom Nallen, head of Customer-Commercial at Allianz, at Mount Juliet Golf Club. Photograph: Dylan Vaughan.

Kilkenny venue basked in sunshine for the Allianz/Irish Times Officers’ Challenge

“Snakebite” Peter Wright, whose hairstyle is that of a permanently surprised cockatoo. Photograph: Harry Trump/Getty Images

Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor plays the villain, as Snakebite and Gurney take centre stage

The Women’s Rugby World Cup trophy which the best team’s will battle it out for in Ireland in August. Photo: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

All you need to know ahead of the big event taking place next month in Ireland

Ireland women’s rugby head coach Tom Tierney and captain Niamh Briggs. Ireland are ranked fifth in the world. Photograph:  INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Captain Niamh Briggs wants squad to embrace the fact that they are at home

Nora Stapleton, pictured during an ireland trial match in June, is part of Tom Tierney’s Women’s Rugby World Cup squad. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Munster scrumhalf Nicole Cronin is the only uncapped player in the 28-woman squad

Munster’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus: initial reports suggesting he would return to South Africa in a capacity as director of rugby surfaced in April. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

‘There was a nine-month clause in this particular case,’ confirms IRFU CEO Browne

Irish captain, Niamh Briggs was at the GPO to unveil a special €1 postage stamp celebrating Ireland’s hosting of the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

IRFU hoping that it’s a precursor for winning the rights to hosts the 2023 men’s equivalent

The IRFU have issued a warning to the provinces to improve their finances. Photograph: Inpho

IRFU announce deficit of €2.8 million, the first shortfall since the 2007-2008 season

Leona Maguire of Slieve Russell poses with the trophy following her victory at the Ladies British Open Amateur Championship in June. Photograph: Richard Martin-Roberts/R&A/R&A via Getty Images

Cavan golfer and Duke Blue Devil brings fine run of form to the Trump-owned host course

Jarrad Butler of the Brumbies fends off a tackle during last season’s Super Rugby season against the Sunwolves at GIO Stadium. Photograph: Stefan Postles/Getty Images

‘New set of challenges on the other side of the world is something I can’t wait to embrace’

Ireland sevens coach Anthony Eddy has made two changes to his squad for the Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series at Sandy Park. Photograph: Stephen White/Inpho

Dan Leavy’s brother Adam called up for Europe Grand Prix at Exeter’s Sandy Park

Sean O’Brien finished off one of the all-time great Lions tries in the opening Test at Eden Park. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

From a miserable defeat to the Blues through to redemption in the Wellington rain

New Zealand’s captain Kieran Read. Photo: Getty Images

Late decision to downgrade penalty offence a brave but questionable call

Players on the sixth green during day two of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Portstewart. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire.

Grant Fox’s son will be in a minority of one at Portstewart on Saturday

Fans line the dunes during day one of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Portstewart. Photo:  Warren Little/Getty Images

Big screens will show third test in tented village at Irish Open

Alun Wyn Jones and Leigh Halfpenny celebrate after victory for the Lions in the third Test against Australia in Sydney in 2013. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Looking back at the 10 times when the series was still alive going into the final game

Des Allen chronicles his battle with cancer, parsed through events in his life.

Des Allen’s ‘Wandering and Ponderings’ is a collection of beautifully written essays

Brian O’Driscoll in action against Perpignan in 2003. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Leo Cullen’s side will play Perpignan, Gloucester and Bath this summer

Ireland sevens captain Billy Dardis. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Anthony Eddy’s squad travel to Sandy Park with place in San Francisco on the line

French referee Jerome Garces takes charge of the second Test between New Zealand and the British & Irish Lions in Wellington. Photograph:  David Rogers/Getty Images

The French official is an excellent communicator, especially during set piece play

Dublin’s Paul Mannion scored eight points from play in the Leinster SFC rout of Westmeath. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Dublin forward kicked eight points from play in the big Leinster SFC win over Westmeath

Joe Marler and the rest of the Lions frontrow were forced to play the full 80 minutes against the Hurricanes. Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire.

Reluctance to utilise his bench not only denied Lions a win, but could have cost them defeat

Iain Henderson of the Lions charges into Brad Shields and Mark Abbott of the Hurricanes. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Iain Henderson was magnificent. If he doesn’t make the test 23 it’ll be a disgrace

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

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