Republic of Ireland midfielder  Wes Hoolahan holds off the challenge of Poland’s  Tomasz Jodlowiec during the Euro 2016 Group D qualifying  at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Gavin Cummiskey marks Martin O’Neill’s men out of ten after their late Euro qualifier draw

Isaac Boss stretches to score his second try to secure a bonus point for Leinster in their Guinness Pro 12 clash against Glasgow Warriors at the RDS. Photograph:   James Crombie/Inpho

Down 27-7 at half-time Matt O’Connor’s side ended up taking three points at RDS

 Ulster’s Paddy Jackson returns to action against Cardiff after recovering from a cracked elbow suffered against Toulon. Photograph: Franck Pennant/INPHO/Presseye

Stuart Olding also returns and the pair could yet find themselves in the Ireland reckoning

Ian Madigan: will assume the place-kicing duties for Leinster against Glasgow. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Absence of several first-teamers ensures a tough assignment for Matt O’Connor’s side

Leinster head coach Matt O’Connor: “There are a lot of games in the Pro 12 that are impacted on by the lack of availability of Test players.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Coach says the player management system needs to be restructured

Luke Fitzgerald takes on the Scotland defence at Murrayfield, Edinburgh. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Resurgent Leinster winger encapsulates belief now flowing through Ireland squad

Larissa Muldoon, Sophie Spence, Gillian Bourke and Ailis Egan celebrate at the final whistle in Broadwood Stadium, Cumbernauld. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

The strength of our women rugby players should be cherished

Ireland’s Jared Payne scores his side’s  third try during the Six  Nations Championship match at Murrayfield, Edinburgh. Photograph: Inpho

Six Nations champions show there’s still little something up sleeve ahead of World Cup

Tom Tierney talking to the Irish backs during the captain’s run recently. The Grand Slam may have slipped out of reach but a second Six Nations in three years is within touching distance. Photograph: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Tom Tierney’s side have found a rhythm since that dark night against the French

Luke Fitzgerald: “I don’t think I can do what Simon [Zebo] does. I can do what I do.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Winger feels ‘in great position to kick on’ after unlucky international career so far

Ireland’s Sophie Spence. “You can only get better if you are playing at that level against international sides.” Photograph: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Secondrow believes extra international matches are needed to develop depth

Ireland captain Paul O’Connell and Seán O’Brien react to a decision by referee Wayne Barnes during the Six Nations defeat to Wales at the Millennium Stadium. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Ireland coach says Jack McGrath’s scrummaging against Wales was ‘very correct’

Luke Fitzgerald starts for Ireland against Scotland - his first international start since 2011. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Leinster winger makes his first Ireland start since 2011 after battling string of injuries

Ireland captain and fullback Niamh Briggs clears her lines during the Women’s  Six Nations match against Wales  at St Helen’s  in Swansea. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Niamh Briggs’s team playing for both championship and Triple crown honours

Dan Trayers scores Cistercian’s second try in the semi-final against Newbridge. Trayers in the main man in the lineout for Roscrea. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Both Cistercian and Belvedere enter final of brilliant tournament with battle scars

Ireland wing Alison Miller: “It was always going to be a time when other players stepped up.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho.

Events at Twickenham could have bearing as Irish and French battle for title

Ireland’s Paul O’Connell is tackled by Luke Charteris of Wales during their Six Nations match at the Millennium StadiCardiff, Wales. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Wales coaching staff got tactical drop on Joe Schmidt before match began

Peter O’Mahony wins a lineout during their SixNations Championship match at the  Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales. Photograph: Inpho

Jared Payne highlights combination of good Welsh defence and poor Irish decision making

Robin McBryde: “You’ve got to be confident going in against Ireland”

Robin McBryde, Shane Williams and Victor Costello try to predict where and how the Six Nations match at the Millennium Stadium wi(...)

Jackie Shiels return to midfield alongside Jenny Murphy which should improve the distribution out wide against Wales. Photograph: Inpho

Women’s Six Nations Preview: Wales v Ireland, Swansea RFC, 12pm – Live on 2FM

Ben Te’o is continuing his rugby union education with the Leinster A side. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho.

British and Irish Cup final place up for grabs in Worcester

Jamie Heaslip: recovered from the three cracked vertebrae caused by Pascal Pape’s knee. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Ireland’s experienced number eight praises Warren Gatland’s coaching nous

Shane Williams dives past Ireland’s Keith Earls to score a Welsh try during the 2011 Rugby World Cup quarter-final in New Zealand. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty.

Retired Wales international believes modern game has no place for small men

Jackie Shiels has been named in the Ireland starting line-up against Wales.

Centre returns in place of the injured Katie Fitzhenry for Sunday’s match in Wales

Roscrea’s Dan Trayers scores his side’s second try against Newbridge during yesterday’s semi-final at Donnybrook. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Joe Murphy try secures a one-point win and a final date with Belvedere

Dublin’s Nicky Devereux Tyrone’s and Mattie Donnelly challenge for the ball during Friday night’s game at Croke Park. Photograph: Inpho/Cathal Noonan

Dublin manager and Tyrone opposite number Mickey Harte share similar views despite differing styles

Brian O’Driscoll celebrates winning the 2009 Grand Slam with his father Frank. O’Driscoll was represented by his father for much of his career and Frank O’Driscoll has given some advice to Tom Henshaw. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Parents as representatives in nothing new in rugby as agents remain strictly regulated

Iain Henderson: returned to the Ireland squad as a replacement against England following his recuperation from a hip injury. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Luke Marshall and Roger Wilson cited after Ulster’s defeat of Scarlets on Friday

Newbride’s Jake Howlett is tackled by Tim Foley of Cistercian College Roscrea during the Leinster Schools Senior Cup semi-final at Donnybrook. Photograph:    Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Keith Kavanagh’s second-half try squares things up in senior semi-final

Jack Clarke of Belvedere College celebrates at the end of the game. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho.

Brave Clongowes comeback falls just short in an enthralling semi-final

Ireland’s Robbie Hensaw: the try scorer and man of the match in Sunday’s Six Nations match with England will see out his contract with Connacht. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Leinster, Munster and several European clubs expected to want to sign Ireland centre

Ireland’s women’s rugby team: Indications from within World Rugby appear to make Ireland favourites to host the 2017 World Cup ahead of England and South Africa. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

IRFU proposes that pool matches be played in UCD with knockout stages in Belfast

 Simon Zebo competes for a high ball with George Ford during Sunday’s action at the Aviva Stadium:  Ireland kicked the ball 44 times compared with England’s 27.  Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Stuart Lancaster admits he knew an aerial bombardment was coming from Ireland

Ireland’s Shane Horgan scores a try against England at Croke Park  following a crossfield kick by  Ronan O’Gara. Photo: Alan Betson

The atmosphere in Dublin will be special as we once again welcome ‘the old enemy’

Ireland’s Alison Miller and Jenny Murphy celebrate the Women’s Six Nations Championship victory over England at   Ashbourne RFC. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Penalty after 76 minutes sees off England in Ashbourne

Jordi Murphy comes in to replace Jamie Heaslip for Sunday’s Six Nations fixture against England. Photograph: INPHO

Joe Schmidt keeps Cian Healy on the bench while Eoin Reddan comes in for Isaac Boss

Ireland’s Rory Best performs a choke tackle on France’s Rory Kockott during the recent Six Nations game at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Wales assistant coach says increasing resort to the tackle is a blight on the game

Ireland flanker Paula Fitzpatrick has been in outstanding form in the Six Nations campaign. Photograph:  Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Tom Tierney’s side face an England side that blew Ireland away in Paris semi-final

 Dylan Hartley: One of the few sportsmen who instil fear with a look. Photograph: Getty Images

Northampton captain to put mistakes behind him as Lancaster’s England side seek title

Alex Goode is poised to start at fullback should Mike Brown fails to prove his fitness. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Tom Wood, Courtney Lawes and Geoff Parling released to clubs ahead of Ireland clash

Stuart Lancaster’s England squad training at Pennyhill Park in Bagshot, Surrey, ahead of Sunday’s Six Nations clash against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Stuart Lancaster’s powerful side aiming for fifth win in row over Ireland

Wales’ George North leaves the field to be assessed after a head injury during the Six Nations match against England at the Millennium Stadium. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA Wire.

Clubs, doctors and physios, as well as rugby’s official bodies, are in firing line on concussion

Clongowes Wood captain John Molony seemed to suffer a head injury during Clongowes’ victory over St Michael’s College in the Leinster schools cup quarter-final.  Photograph: Colm O’Neill/INPHO

Peter Robinson has questioned why captain John Molony was allowed to play on

Ireland outhalf Jonathan Sexton  is given treatment for a cut to his eye after a clash of heads with France’s Mathieu Bastareaud during the Six Nations at Aviva Stadium. Photograph:   Michael Steele/Getty Images

Recent high-profile cases mean rugby can no longer ignore the elephant in the room

The Ireland and French teams are in the dark after a floodlight generator problem at the Women’s Six Nations Championship match at Milltown House, Ashbourne RFC, Co Meath. Photograph: Inpho

Despite defending their spiritual home in Ashbourne, the side deserve a better venue

Richardt Strauss was one of three Leinster players forced off with a head injury during Sunday’s Pro 12 loss to Newport Gwent Dragons. (Photograph: INPHO/Colm O’Neill)

Leinster coach watched as three of his charges forced off with head injuries during Dragons loss

 Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton leaves the pitch to be treated for a head injury. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Johnny Sexton among four players forced to leave field with Spedding unable to return

Johnny Sexton was named man of the match in Ireland’s 18-11 Six nations win over France at the Aviva Stadium.  (Photograph: REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton)

Heroes to a man, but which Ireland players were the pick of the bunch in the win over France?

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre. “He may  be a practical coach but the French media stone him for his inability to settle upon a team.” Photograph: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

Inconsistent selection and brutish, forward-orientated tactics testing the patience of the French fans

 Ireland’s Jenny Murphy and Alison Miller are dejected after defeat to France. Photograph:  Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Visitors hold on in Ashbourne as darkness falls on Ireland’s Six Nations hopes

Irish and France women in darkness as the lights go out at Ashbourne RFC in Six Nations. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho.

Brave finish from Irish but France just shade it after venue's lights go out twice

 Ben Te’o gets a long overdue fourth appearance for Leinster against the Dragons on Sunday, having so far only played 87 minutes of rugby union. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Australian lock might be tempted to return home by Michael Cheika before World Cup

Ireland women’s captain’s run at Ashbourne RFC, Co Meath, ahead of their second match of the Six Nations against France. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Hosts without wing Hannah Tyrell who has been replaced by Aoife Doyle after concussion

Cian Healy returned to action more quickly than expected. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Seán O’Brien and Cian Healy could no longer be spared with huge matches on horizon

Johnny Sexton during a training session at Carton House. Photograph: PA

Ex-French international Laurent Bénézech warns of risk starting against Les Bleus

Johnny  Sexton will play his first game since November’s win over Australia when Ireland take on France in the Six Nations this weekend. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ireland and Munster flanker Peter O’Mahony admits ‘the fear is always there with France’

 Roscrea players celebrate scoring a try at the death against Blackrock College in the Leinster Schools’ Senior Cup quarter-final in Donnybrook.  Photograph: Marcus Sheridan / Inpho

2015 the year of the underdog as south Dublin behemoth go the way of St Michael’s

 Ireland’s Katie Fitzhenry on the attack against Italy. The Blackrock back will start at inside centre against France. Photograph: Ivan Marianelli / Inpho

‘What they (France) lack in experience they make up for in pure aggressiveness and eagerness’

Ireland’s Ian Keatley in action against Italy. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire.

It’s taken him a while, but Munster outhalf is starting to look like a true international

Tommy O’Donnell gets over the line to score Ireland’s second try against Italy at Stadio Olimpico, Rome. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho.

Seán O’Brien’s injury gives Tipperary backrow a chance to shine against Italy

Sean O’Brien was forced to withdraw from the Ireland team ahead of the 26-3 victory over Italy in Rome after damaging his hamstring during the warm-up and is now a doubt for Saturday’s fixture against France at the Aviva Stadium. (Photograph: INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

Ireland backrow damaged hamstring in warm-up before victory over Italy in Rome

Niamh Briggs and  Nora Stapleton: Ireland will be hoping to repeat their 2013 Grand Slam. They face Italy today in their opening match of the Six Nations.  Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

The team have new players and new coaching staff but should have strength to beat Italy

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has a word with his outhalf Ian Keatley at training this morning. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland coach explains rationale for picking Munster outhalf this weekend

Ian Keatley’s impressive form, despite Munster troubles in Europe, sees him glide past Ian Madigan in the outhalf pecking order. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Munster outhalf will make first Six Nations appearance against Italy on Saturday

Tom Tierney, coach of Ireland women, as well as Glenstal Abbey and Cork Constitution, says it has taken a lot of work to fit them all into his schedule. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Former scrumhalf is coaching three sides but believes Ireland are ready for Italy clash

Size is the bottom line in rugby and the key to optimising physical power is getting access to players when they are young, writes(...)

Ireland’s Conor Murray in action: the scrumhalf has  been passed fit to play against Italy in Rome this Saturday. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Schmidt still looking for best centre pairing since departure of O’Driscoll last season

The flanker defends Leinster coach Matt O’Connor against criticism

Mike Ross at Ireland training in Carton House, Co. Kildare. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Coach Joe Schmidt still favours veterans Mike Ross and Gordon D’Arcy

onathan Sexton during kicking practice at Twickenham last year. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland outhalf talks though his place-kicking routine in promo for Investec

Sean O’Brien will make his return to action for the Ireland Wolfhounds against England Saxons at Musgrave Park tomorrow night. (Photograph: INPHO/Cathal Noonan)

Ian Madigan starts at outhalf while Felix Jones will captain a strong starting line-up

8 December 2014; Leinster players, from left, Luke McGrath, Darragh Fanning, Brendan Macken and Cian Healy at the Bank of Ireland Schools Leinster Draw in association with Beauchamps Solicitors. House of Lords, Bank of Ireland, College Green, Dublin. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE *** NO REPRODUCTION FEE ***

Cian Healy, Brendan Macken, Darragh Fanning and Luke McGrath

FIRA Under 18 European Championships Semi-Final, Plewiska, Poland 15/4/2014Ireland U18 vs France U18Ireland’s Max DeeganMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Szymon Gruchalski/www.eurorugby2014.pl

Blackrock, St Michael’s and Clongowes Wood lead the way in conditioning

Belvedere College  players celebrate in front of their fans after beating Blackrock College to win the 2005 Leinster Schools Senior Cup. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho.

Unlikely victory after out smarting and out muscling Dublin rivals ended 33-year drought

The former schools rugby player and four of his former team-mates later joined the ranks of professional sport

Blackrock’s Caelan Doris offloads to Roghan McMahon during their Leunster Schools Senior Cup tie against Terenure College. Photograph: Colm O’Neill/Inpho

Gutsy Terenure no match for forward power of the reigning cup holders

Iain Henderson returns to the Ulster side at blindside flanker following a hip problem. Photograph: Darren Kidd/Inpho.

Leicester in Belfast needing a win and bonus point

Leinster strength & conditioning coach Daniel Tobin puts Seán O’Brien and Cian Healy through their paces at UCD as they continue their bid to regain full fitness. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Team close to full strength although Cian Healy and Seán O’Brien still ruled out

Head coach Matt O’Connor at the Leinster press conference. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Ne concerns that Mike Ross might be undercooked for Wasps game

Martin Moore has ousted Mike Ross at provincial level but Joe Schmidt has kept the 35-year-old in the international set-up. Photograph: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

O’Brien returns to congested backrow as Fitzgerald and Earls offer backline boost

Ireland and Leinster prop Cian Healy is nearing a return. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Ireland prop will not be risked in Leinster’s vital Champions Cup match

Ireland’s Grace Davitt, Lynne Cantwell and Jenny Murphy celebrate after beating USA in the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2014. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Twelve uncapped players named with nine players from last season not returning

Can St Michael’s captain James Ryan lead his side to Senior Cup glory in Leinster? Photo: Dan Sheridan / Inpho

Coach Brian O’Meara has the best squad, the most talented individuals and they’ve built a winning culture

Fergus McFadden tries to offload to a team-mate as Castres’ Scottish lock Richie Gray arrives to wrap him up in a tackle. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Province send out warning to Wasps after pulverising French visitors

Leinster’s Tadhg Furlong, who scored one of Leinster’s seven tries against Castres at the RDS. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Province and Ireland now well stocked in tighthead department

“As a ‘rugby parent’ I’ve observed the school and club game at close quarters, from both sides of the touchline. What I’ve seen and heard suggests that our thinking on the subject may not be altogether rational”

Broken necks and serious brain injuries don’t result from other school sports - surgeon

Jared Payne will be on the replacements bench for Pro12 match against Treviso at Stadio Monigo on Sunday. Photograph: Inpho

Benetton Treviso v Ulster, Stadio Monigo, 2pm (Irish time) – BBC 2 NI

Niall Moyna: “The Sports Council have made great strides in the last 20 years, but we are still a Third World sporting nation – there is no doubt about that.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Sports scientist slams educational inertia: ‘We are not moving with the times at all’

Leinster’s Jamie Heaslip receives treatment from physio Garreth Farrell during the weekend’s match with Ulster. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Leo Cullen blames physicality of modern game Leinster’s injury crisis

Ireland’s Johnny Sexton recieves treatement during against Australia at the Aviva Stadium in November. Photograph: Colm O’Neill/Inpho

Johnny Sexton’s injury puts spotlight on players who can step up to mark

Robbie Henshaw is expected to return to the Connacht team against Munster. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Pat Lam’s side can get season back on track with victory over Munster

Paul O’Connell has played 103 Test matches for Ireland since 2002. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Ireland captain has contract with IRFU until 2016

Jack Conan in action against Munster’s Tommy O’Donnell and Duncan Williams at  Thomond Park. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Player’s progression has put himself in the shop window for clubs across Europe

Leinster’s Luke Fitzgerald in  action against Munster at Thomond Park in this season’s Pro12 League. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho.

Series of serious injuries nearly brought a premature end to winger’s career after high-flying start

Leinster’s Ben Te’o with Dr John Ryan before going off injured on his debut in November. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Former rugby league star has not featured since breaking his arm on debut

Connacht captain John Muldoon and  coach Pat Lam during the Ulster v Connacht Pro12  game at Kingspan Stadium, Belfast, on St Stephen’s Day. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Connacht coach says squad had to do too much travelling before narrow defeat

Connacht’s Denis Buckley takes on the Ulster defence. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

South African halfback Ruan Pienaar unlikely to be fit for Leinster game after knee setback

 Ireland’s Simon Zebo goes over for a tryagainst Australia in Dublin in November. Photograph: Colm O’Neill / Inpho

It’s the little things, Gavin Cummiskey on three wins from three for Joe Schmidt’s men

France’s Sebastien Vahaamahina on the charge. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The choke tackle in all its glory - Gavin Cummiskey recalls the night Ireland held on in France

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