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

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

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