Donegal captain Michael Murphy is temporarily swapping Gaelic football for rugby with Top 14 team Clermont Auvergne as part of The Toughest Trade. Photograph: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile.

Donegal captain not concerned about making temporary step up to professional rugby

Leinster’s Hayden Triggs has an altercation with Montpellier’s Nic White during the European Champions Cup match at the RDS. Photograph: PA

Frans Steyn’s ‘dangerous tackle’ on Leinster outhalf Johnny Sexton will also be reviewed

Kieran Treadwell must back up Ulster coach  Les Kiss’s big selection call at secondrow. Photograph: Inpho

European Champions Cup – Pool 5 preview: David Shanahan takes over at scrumhalf

Leinster’s Johnny Sexton gets high tackled by Frans Steyn of Montpellier for which he later received a red card. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Frans Steyn was shown a red card for a forearm to the jaw and neck of Johnny Sexton

Leinster’s Johnny Sexton gets high tackled by Frans Steyn of Montpellier for which he later received a red card in their European Champions Cup tie at the  RDS, Dublin. Photograph: Inpho

Leo Cullen’s side produces arguably the most impressive 26 minutes since the Millennium Stadium miracle of 2011

On borrowed time? Stadio Moletolo, home of the struggling  Zebre  franchise. Photograph: Francesca Soli/Inpho

Financial problems of Parma club suggest restructuring of Italian game is inevitable

Craig Ronaldson, Steve Crosbie and Niyi Adeolokun during a Connacht training session at the Sportsground, Galway. Photograph: Inpho

Pat Lam’s side are level on 13 points with Wasp and Toulouse but trail in tries scored

Johnny Sexton eased back into action as Leinster hammered Zebre at the RDS. Photograph: Inpho/Dan Sheridan

Outhalf’s blossoming partnership with Luke McGrath one highlight of a big mismatch

Munster’s James Cronin and Jack Carty of Connacht. Connacht’s outhalf crisis appears to have been temporarily allayed by  Carty’s return, with Ciarán Gaffney, providing cover. Photograph: INPHO/James Crombie

Connacht may have along afternoon as they face Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric

Paul Marshal: will start at scrumhalf for Ulster against Scarlets. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Victory in Wales without Charles Piutau and Ruan Pienaar seems like too great a task

Ruan Pienaar is facing at least a month out after undergoing knee surgery. Photograph: Inpho/Billy Stickland

Ulster scrumhalf injured knee in Leinster loss and facing at least a month on sidelines

Jamie Heaslip has agreed a new deal to remain at Leinster under national contract until 2020. Photograph: Inpho/Ryan Byrne

Contract yet to be signed but Ireland number eight looks set to finish career in Dublin

Johnny Sexton returns to action for Leinster against Zebre on Friday night. Photograph: Inpho/Tommy Dickson

Ireland and Leinster’s talisman back in the saddle for Zebre after latest injury lay-off

Ulster coach Neil Doak. Photograph:  Matt Mackey/Presseye/Inpho

Les Kiss has a shortage of players available at scrumhalf, outhalf and in the frontrow

England prop Joe Marler had some choice words for rugby’s administrators in relation to the new laws.  Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

New law interpretations designed to reduce head injuries as worries around concussion continue to grow

Munster’s Tommy O’Donnell is led off the field at the Sportsground. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Pro12 leaders enter crucial period of season with three Champions Cup matches in row

Leinster’s Adam Byrne is tackled by Darren Cave of Ulster during their Pro12 clash at the RDS. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Hosts can’t force bonus point in a forgettable fixture despite absence of Ulster’s big guns

Francis Saili’s return has come at a good time for a depleted Munster. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Pro12’s form team Munster also weakened as they seek to retain lead at the top of table

Leinster’s Jack Conan: standout player in  defeat by Munster makes way for Jamie Heaslip in Ulster clash. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Leinster welcome back internationals for sold-out RDS clash with northern rivals

Leinster and Ireland’s loss was Wasps’ gain when Martin Moore left for pastures new. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

IRFU high performance director has had his doubters but ends year very much in credit

The Leinster number eight would ease into the first team at most of Europe’s top teams

Leinster’s Rory O’Loughlin. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Ipho

Leinster back is another who has been plucked from Dublin 4’s rugby conveyor belt

 Johnny Sexton: set to return for Leinster against Ulster at the RDS on New Year’s Eve.  Photograph: Inpho/Camerasport

Ireland outhalf could be back in action in the New Year’s Eve clash against Ulster

Munster’s Jaco Taute will now stay until the end of the season. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Decision to retain Munster’s Springbok centre is not consistent with Pienaar departure

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Rival fans want to see Heaslip v Stander and O’Brien v O’Mahony – not Leinster lite

“I’m Jack. Jack McGrath. I’ll be going up against Owen Franks.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Sports review of 2016: Green becomes the colour at end of historic week in Windy City

Leinster’s James Treacy builds up a head of steam as Northampton’s Ken Pisi tries to hold on. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Leo Cullen’s team cross for nine tries as emerging talents leave good impression again

Northampton head coach Jim Mallinder during the European Champions Cup  match against Leinster at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph:   Niall Carson/PA Wire

‘I don’t think that was a B team. We rested some players that have played a lot’

Leinster’s Adam Byrne score the  first try in the Champions Cup game against Northampton at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Adam Byrne and Isa Nacewa both go over twice as Saints completely outclassed

The Clermont Auvergne will be seeking revenge at the Stade Marcel Michelin. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

French league leaders will greet visitor’s pack with ruthless welcome party

Tyler Bleyendaal of Munster kicks a penalty during the European Champions Cup match between Munster and Leicester Tigers at Thomond Park last week. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

Munster kicker came with much hype but not until fateful day against Glasgow did he shine

Leinster’s sa Nacewa with Sean O’Brien during the Captain’s Run ahead of their European Champions Cup clash with Northampton Saints. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Saints manager Jim Mallinder looks to have put Europe on back-burner in team selection

Munster are given a penalty try after a late tackle by Leicester Tigers’ George Worth on  Jaco Taute at Thomond Park, Limerick. Photograph: Inpho

With Glasgow Warriors beating Racing in Paris, Pool One has been flung wide open, but Munster remain in firm control

Jaco Taute scores his second try and Munster’s third in the victory over Leicester at Thomond Park. Photograph:   Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Director of rugby believes South African is making contribution on and off the park

Munster’s bonus point came from a penalty try after Jaco Taute was tackled by Leicester’s George Worth while chasing a ball kicked through from Darren Sweetnam. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Bonus point victory keeps up impressive run from Rassie Erasmus’s side

Simon Zebo and Conor Murray return from Ireland duty to aid Munster’s cause against Leicester Tigers. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Six PRO12 victories in succession signal the rude health of Rassie Erasmus’s squad

JJ Hanrahan of Northampton Saints during the Aviva Premiership match between Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints at Welford Road, Leicester. Photo: Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images

The Kerry man will line out for Northampton against Leinster in the Champions Cup

Lions CEO John Feehan was speaking to Gavin Cummiskey at Carton House. Photo: Inpho

With the tour not until next summer there is already phenomenal interest gathering

George North of Northampton Saints receives treatment after scoring a try and colliding with Nathan Hughes of Wasps during the Aviva Premiership match between Northampton Saints and Wasps at Franklin’s Gardens on March 27th, 2015. Photo: Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Lions coach said that if Welshman is ever to play again he must be deemed 100 per cent fit

New Zealand’s Sam Cane escaped punishment for his tackle on Robbie Henshaw which ended the Leinster centre’s involvement in the recent Autumn International at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Billy Stickland/ Inpho

Referee Appointments Administrator says safety of players is main concern

Guinness Series, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 26/11/2016Ireland vs Australia Ireland's Garry Ringrose scores his sides second tryMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Ireland centre scored first international try and brought reminders of great O’Driscoll

Australia head coach Micharl Cheika: “You can’t win a test match giving away that many penalties or that big a difference between the two teams. Impossible.” Photograph: Colm O’Neill/Inpho

Yet again, officials find themselves isolated and under the spotlight after match

 Ireland’s Mary Healy struggles to get to grips with with Aotearoa Mata’u of New Zealand. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Ireland’s women well beaten by New Zealand to end poor autumn series

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt: “It’s certainly one of the proudest days that I have been on the periphery of a team. They showed immense character.” Photo: Colm O’Neill/Inpho

Ireland coach reflects on one of his ‘proudest days’ after win over Australia

Gavin Cummiskey rates Joe Schmidt and his team’s individual performances in the victory over Australia

Wallabies lose out in Dublin but there were some eye-catching performances from the visitors

Michael Cheika: “We have been told that we can’t talk about that in public, because they don’t want the interpretations being done in public. That’s the edict they have given us we can’t say anything about it, we’d love to but we are not allowed to. I don’t want to get myself in any strife.” Photo: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

“It’s something I will be dealing with Alain Rolland afterwards. And see if we can get something out of it. But I doubt it.”

Joe Schmidt:   Ireland and Michael Cheika’s Australia  clash in the Aviva Stadium at 5.30pm on Saturday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Two giants of the game honed their skills at the province on the way to the top

Keith Earls: “I’ve taken rugby in a completely different way now because of Axel’s death.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Versatile Munster winger will win his 54th cap for Ireland against Australia

Rob Kearney starts for Ireland against Australia on Saturday. Photograph: Inpho/ Billy Stickland

Joe Schmidt makes two unforced changes as Keith Earls and Iain Henderson come in

Australia head coach Michael Cheika with assistant Mick Byrne. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Wallaby coach Mick Byrne has imparted his expertise all around world, Leinster included

Ireland’s Sean O’Brien leaves the pitch after Ireland’s defeat to New Zealand. Photo: Inpho

Michael Cheika knows all about flanker’s destructive power from his Leinster days

 Michael Cheika believes Saturday’s clash against Ireland in Dublin will be the biggest game of Australia’s tour. Photograph: Getty/Dan Mullan

‘We are resetting today and saying this is going to be the biggest game of the tour’

A rampaging Seán O’Brien gets away from Beauden Barrett at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph:  Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Tadhg Furlong and Josh van der Flier were inspired by example set by returning flanker

Ireland number eight Jamie Heaslip was outstanding in the defeat to New Zealand. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Gavin Cummiskey gives his verdict on individual performances of Joe Schmidt’s side

Beauden Barrett  runs away from the tackle of Ireland’s Conor Murray to score New Zealand’s third try during the match at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph:    Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images

They came with revenge on their mind and some of their big names were on top form

The Ireland players form a ring around Joe Schmidt at the Aviva Stadium as the head coach delivers instructions. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ireland all about plan, process and performance as they front up to All Blacks again

Ireland scrum coach and former All Black Greg Feek who led haka at Lansdowne Road in 2001. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

New Zealand will use first anniversary of Jonah Lomu’s death as spur against Ireland

Ireland Women coach Tom Tierney has left Larissa Muldoon and veteran prop Ailis Egan in his reserves for the match against Canada. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Tierney leaves veterans on bench to give Nichola Fryday and Anna Caplice their debut

The late Jonah Lomu leaves the pitch after playing Ireland in the 1995 RugbyWorld Cup. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

All Black legend passed away one year ago aged 40 - his legacy still inspires their captain

Tadhg Furlong  is tackled by Aaron Smith of New Zealand during the  match  at Soldier Field  in Chicago. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty Images

‘It is hard to believe I would be in this situation a year ago but . . . I worked really hard’

 Sean O’Brien and Rory Best with Peter O’Mahony at Ireland training on Thursday morning. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Conor Murray passed fit as Iain Henderson and Paddy Jackson come into matchday squad

New Zealand’s Owen Franks during a press conference at the Castleknock Hotel, Dublin. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho

The All Blacks have arrived in Dublin and are ready to put right the result at Soldier Field

Ultan Dillane scores Ireland’s  fifth try in the game against Canada at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Gavin Cummiskey’s looks at how Joe Schmidt’s new-look side fared against Canada

Seán O’Brien and Peter O’Mahony in action against Canada at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Seán O’Brien and Peter O’Mahony come back into head coach’s planning ahead of New Zealand Part II

Maori All Blacks’ Ash Dixon leaves the pitch after his side was defeated by Munster at Thomond Park. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Colin Cooper paid tribute to Munster and the rugby culture so apparent at Thomond Park

New Zealand scrumhalf Sid Going gets in his kick despite the attentions of Ireland’s Sean Lynch and Fergus Slattery during the 1973 game which ended  10-10. Photograph:   Dermot O’Shea

Ex-players recall incidents from match that was played in troubled times 43 years ago

Munster’s Darren Sweetnam celebrates scoring their third try in the game against  Maori All Blacks at Thomond Park.   Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Packed Thomond Park witnesses another stirring occasion as old school wins through

James Lowe of the Maori All Blacks runs in for a try in their victory over the USA Eagles. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty Images

Maori All Blacks are effectively shadow New Zealand squad but still contain big threats

Billy Holland: “I grew up with my father being involved with Munster, I love Munster and  Irish rugby and everything it represents.” Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Jerry Holland had been on Ireland’s hugely controversial tour of apartheid South Africa

Garry Ringrose will make his international debut for Ireland in the November Test against Canada. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Joe Schmidt has opted for completely changed team to that which beat New Zealand

 Rob Kearney “He pulled me aside before the game and he said, ‘You need a big one today.’ It wasn’t ideal, but it was good.” Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland fullback delighted - and relieved - to pay back the faith placed in him by Joe Schmidt

Ireland’s Conor Murray celebrates scoring their third try against the All Blacks in Soldier Field: “He is a physical man. He is big for a nine. That’s what makes him world class.”  Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland scrumhalf shows he is outstanding all-rounder in victory over All Blacks

  Josh van der Flier and Ultan Dillane  celebrate beating the All Blacks. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Next generation stand up to the All Blacks on field of dreams

CJ Stander was seen as being too small to play for South Africa, and now he has beaten the All Blacks with Ireland. Photograph: Inpho

The man too small to be a Springbok pays tribute to Foley after felling the All Blacks

Fullback Ben Smith was one of the All Blacks’ best performers at Soldier Field - but often came off second best in the air against Ireland’s Rob Kearney. Photograph: Inpho

18 and out: Gaving Cummiskey rates Steve Hansen’s side after their first defeat of 2016

Ireland’s Conor Murray scores their third try. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

A perfect 10 for scrum half Conor Murray on a day all the Irish players excelled

 Dejected New Zealand players look on following their team’s 40-29 defeat during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

Steve Hansen: “Makes up for the last time when they probably should have won”

Richie McCaw of Team Cure Kids mountainbikes on Rabbit Island on day one of the GODZone multi day adventure race earlier this year. Photo: Getty Images

Former New Zealand captain now gets kicks from flying helictopers and endurance races

Hundreds of thousands of fans crowd into Grant Park to attend a rally for the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs in Chicago, Illinois. The National League Chicago Cubs defeated the American League Champion Cleveland Indians four games to three in the best of seven game series to claim the title for the first time in 108 years. Photo: EPA

The city remains in a state of celebration after baseball team ended 108-year World Series drought

France’s Jean Marc Doussain is tackled by Ireland’s Jared Payne and CJ Stander. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Jared Payne and CJ Stander were facilitated by the disputed three-year residency rule

Donnacha Ryan in the Grand Salon in Chicago: “It is a novelty, a different, unique environment for us all.” Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ireland player relishes unique chance to play All Blacks at Soldier Field in Chicago

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt.

Garry Ringrose and Joey Carbery on the bench for test against New Zealand

Ireland’s Conor Murray, Ultan Dillane, Jamie Heaslip and Josh van der Flier strike a pose with the Chicago skyline in the background. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Joe Schmidt's side likely to play on America's east coast in June ahead of tour of Japan

Irish captain Willie Anderson faces up to New Zealand captain Wayne Shelford as the All Blacks perform ‘The Haka’. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

‘Why should a side coming to Ireland get the first applause by doing a dance’

Ben Robinson died as a result of second impact syndrome suffered in a match for Carrickfergus Grammar School in Januray 2011.

Karen Walton’s son Benjamin died as result of second-impact syndrome

Ben Robinson died as a result of second impact syndrome suffered in a match for Carrickfergus Grammar School in Januray 2011.

Governing bodies including IRFU and World Rugby named in case in Belfast High Court

Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton reacts after he missed a crucial late penalty  against New Zealand in 2013. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Memories of agonising missed opportunity in 2013 motivate outhalf and squad

Johnny Sexton has confirmed his fitness after he was substituted in Leinster’s Champions Cup defeat to Montpellier. Photograph: Afp

Sexton let Nacewa kick against Montpellier in the knowledge he would not play the full 80

Charismatic centre Bundee Aki  has signed a three-year extension to bring his stay at Connacht up to the summer of 2020. Photograph: Inpho

Kiwi can become a key figure at the 2019 World Cup – for Ireland or Samoa

Tomás O’Leary in European action against Leinster at the Stade Altrad on Sunday. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Scrumhalf enjoying new adventure with Montpellier after being let go by Munster

Leinster’s Irish fly-half Jonathan Sexton reacts during the European Rugby Champions Cup rugby match between Montpellier and Leinster at the Altrad stadium in Montpellier, southern France. Photo: Getty Images

Leinster decision to remove Sexton and O’Brien at half-time shows new trend

Leinster’s Luke McGrath goes through during their Champions Cup clash with Montpellier. Photo: Inpho

Leo Cullen’s side at least managed to salvage a bonus point from a scrappy affair in France

Jonathan Sexton: alway a significant addition to any Leinster selection. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

Pieces falling into place again for Leo Cullen as O’Brien, Healy and Sexton return

Frans Steyn of Montpellier is tackled by Teimana Harrison of Northampton Saints during the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Northampton Saints and Montpellier at Franklin’s Gardens in Northampton, England. Photo: Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Leinster’s opponents backboned by former world champions who face worrying talent drain

Leinster Rugby Head coach Leo Cullen speaks at a press conference ahead of their Champions Cup clash with Montpellier. Photo: Inpho

The Leinster coach spoke about their time as Ireland teammates ahead of trip to France

Anthony Foley of Munster is tackled by Victor Costello of the rest of Ireland during a friendly in 2001. Photo: Andrew Paton/Inpho

The former Ireland international looks back on his rivalry with the man from Killaloe

Exeter Chiefs and Clermont Auvergne respect a minutes silence for Munster coach Anthony Foley before the European Champions Cup, pool five match at Sandy Park, Exeter. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire

Donal Lenihan and Len Dinneen were among those to remember the Munster head coach

 Paddy Jackson: Ulster have enough experience to win, but it could need their outhalf  to at least break even with Ian Madigan. Photograph: Jonathan Porter/Inpho/Presseye

Ian Madigan knows he is in shop window for Ireland place as Champions Cup kicks off

Leinster captain  Isa Nacewa ran in  the bonus-point  try despite the attempted tackle of Castres’ Robert Ebersohn. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Young outhalf shows off his distribution and off-the-cuff play behind powerful scrum

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