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

Jared Payne scores a try during the Guinness Pro 12 game against Benetton Treviso at the  Kingspan Stadium. Photograph: Matt Mackey/Inpho/Presseye

Ulster back suffered bruising in win over Treviso

Ireland’s Andrew Trimble sustained a hand injury during Ulster’s Pro12 victory over Benetton Treviso on Friday. Photograph: Matt Mackey/Inpho.

Meanwhile, Joe Schmidt must do without Andrew Trimble and Ultan Dillane on Friday

Leinster’s Ross Byrne in action against Scarlets during the Guinness PRO12 clash at the  RDS Arena. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Powerful second-half display sends out a strong message to other Pro12 contenders

Joey Carbery scores a try, Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

The home side were imperious as they put the Welsh visitors to the sword in Dublin

Ireland’s CJ Stander and Alun-Wyn Jones of Wales compete for a line-out in last year’s Six Nations game. Ireland will look to target the Welsh set-piece this years. Photograph: Colm O’Neill/Inpho

Hooker Ken Owens has 100% success rate in the Six Nations but Devin Toner is in form

 Ireland’s Peter O’Mahony:“We’ve got a big 11 days to get ready for a big international.” Photograph:  Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Munster man wants to play for province at weekend, but will abide by Schmidt’s decision

Simon Zebo signs autographs for young fans during Monday’s open training session at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Flanker happy with French win but believes sloppy mistakes must be eliminated

Ireland scrumhalf Conor Murray  scoring a try in his side’s  19-9 win at the Aviva Stadium Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke

Scrumhalf’s kicking prowess and ability to run were core constituents in Ireland’s success

Ireland’s Keith Earls and Conor Murray celebrate winning against France in their Six Nations clash. Photo: Billy Stcikland/Inpho

John O’Sullivan analyses the good, bad and indifferent from a tight victory in Dublin

Jared Payne: back from injury and will start on the bench against Zebre. Photograph: Darren Kidd/Presseye/Inpho

Les Kiss will be looking for bonus points in three upcoming games against Italian clubs

The Irish players  limber up at a squad training session at Carton House, Kildare. Photograph:  Dan Sheridan/Inpho

What the French will face at the Aviva Stadium

The French side go through some drills at the Arboras Stadium, Nice,  as they prepare to face Ireland in the Six Nations on Saturday. Photograph: Reuters

What Joe Schmidt’s side will face at the Avivia Stadium

Ireland’s Caelan Doris goes past Florian Dufour of France during their Six Nations clash at Donnybrook. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Caelan Doris, Tommy O’Brien and Jordan Larmour were excellent in the Six Nations win

Ireland squad member Ultan Dillane forms part of an experienced core to the Connacht pack. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Lam names Delahunt, Cannon and Fox-Matamua in starting 15 for trip to Treviso

Tommy O’Brien celebrates scoring a try for Ireland under-20s against their Italian counterparts at Stadio Enrico Chersoni in Prato on February 10th. Photograph: Matteo Ciambelli/Inpho.

Injuries force coach Nigel Carolan’s hand for crunch game against France

Niyi Adeolokun: has togged out in 19 matches for Pat Lam’s side since the start of the season, racking up an impressive 1,452 minutes of game time. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Connacht winger has had more game time this year than any player in four provinces

Tadhg Furlong meets the press. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland tighthead rejects talk of feeling the pressure ahead of make-or-break match

Ireland  coach Nigel Carolan talks to his players after their win over Italy. Photograph: Inpho

Ireland coach names his Under-20s side to face France on Friday night

Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton in training at Carton House this morning. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland management also say that Conor Murray and Andrew Trimble are fit to play

Marcell Coetzee: the former Springbok international had an outstanding debut against Edinburgh. Photograph: Inpho

Pro12 preview: Ulster v Glasgow Warriors, Kingspan stadium (3.0, live on Sky Sports 1)

Connacht coach Pat Lam: “We’re very aware of where we are in this competition and what we need to do.” Photograph: Inpho

Pro12 preview: Connacht v Newport Gwent Dragons, Sportsground (7.35, live on TG4)

Munster’sJean Kleyn: will miss the next eight to 10 weeks with a neck injury.Photograph: Inpho

Pro12 preview: Ospreys v Munster, Liberty stadium (Saturday 5.15, live on Sky Sports)

The French team before  facing Ireland in 2014. Photograph: Inpho

France only country to hold outright winning record against Irish in Six Nations

CJ Stander shows his determination as he brushes past an Italian  challenge at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

South African points to better mindset as key factor in Ireland’s improved performance

Ireland’s John Ryan, Niall Scannell and Ian Keatley celebrate the big victory over Italy in Rome. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Munster hooker steps in for Rory Best and makes the most of his Ireland debut

 Hannah Tyrrell scores Ireland’s  bonus-point try in the 81st minute in Italy. Photograph: Giuseppe Fama/Inpho

Late try against Italy in Six Nations caps unconvincing performance

Ireland captain Paula Fitzpatrick. Photograph: Craig Watson/Inpho.

Italy game presents opportunity for players to come in and make their mark

Paddy Jackson kicked nine out of nine conversions as Ireland routed Italy in Rome. Photograph: Inpho/Dan Sheridan

Ireland coach pays tribute to CJStander and Paddy Jackson after nine-try rout of Italy

Niall Scannell replaces captain Rory Best for Ireland’s Six Nations clash with Italy. Photograph: Inpho/Dan Sheridan

Niall Scannell starts after skipper pulls out of Six Nations tie due to stomach upset

Johnny McPhillips kicks a penalty for Ireland during the narrow victory over Italy.

Outstanding performance from St Mary’s man edges Ireland to hard-earned win

Dave Kearney: returnes (following an ankle injury) to the Leinster  team for the first time since  October. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho r

Leo Cullen’s squad boosted by the return of likes of Dave Kearney, Mike Ross and Joey Carbery

Munster’s Darren Sweetnam: will be looking to make a big impression at Musgrave Park. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Depth of Rassie Erasmus’s squad likely to be tested again at Musgrave Park

Marcell Coetzee: the Springbok is due to make his long-awaited debut for Ulster against Edinburgh at Kingspan Stadium. Photograph:  Matt Mackey/Presseye/Inpho

One win in six outings the background for Les Kiss’s side as Edinburgh come calling

Munster winger Calvin Nash comes into the Ireland under-20 team. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho.

Backs hoping to make significant gains against Italian side in Prato

Donnacha Ryan, Conor Murray and Keith Earls all attended St Munchin’s College in Limerick which leads the way with seven in providing senior internationals among the last 100 players to be capped by Ireland. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

In the last 11½ years 46 schools nationwide have provided players to senior team

Fresh from his Munster debut, Calvin Nash will start for Ireland under-20s in Italy. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Nigel Carolan has made two changes to his side to take on Italy in Rome this weekend

Referee JP Doyle with Sergio Parisse during last Sunday’s Six Nations clash with Wales: Italy lost the penalty count 16-5. Photograph: Matteo Ciambelli/Inpho

Captain Sergio Parisse on course to be fit to play in Six Nations clash with Ireland

The Scotland team celebrate with the Quaich trophy. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

John O’Sullivan rates the victorious Scottish players after their Murrayfield win over Ireland

How did the Irish players rate in the defeat to Scotland? Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

On a disappointing day for Irish rugby, John O’Sullivan looks at how Joe Schmidt’s players performed individually

Blindside flanker Cillian Gallagher, in action above for the Connacht Eagles against London Irish, will line out for Ireland against Scotland. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Flanker emphasises importance of mindset ahead of Six Nations opener in Scotland

Calvin Nash scoring a try for Munster A against Doncaster. Nash comes into the Munster backline for the trip to Edinburgh. Photograph: Rachel Holborn/Inpho/Camerasport

Calvin Nash and Peter McCabe come in for their starting debuts against Edinburgh

 Romain Poite - Matches: Scotland v Ireland, Murrayfield; England v Italy, Twickenham.

We take a closer look at the referees for all of the upcoming Six Nations matches

The Aviva Stadium: the winning ratio when Ireland host Wales, Scotland and Italy is 81 per cent (played 27, won 22, lost four, drawn 1) as against 63 per cent (16-10-5-1) when England and France are the visitors to Dublin. Photograph: Inpho

Ireland has winning records against four of the five Six Nations teams

Johnny Sexton is fit to play for Ireland in their Six Nations opener against Scotland at Murrayfield. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The trio will all be fit for the Six Nations opener while Andrew Conway is out

Conor O’Shea: the right man to lead Italy forward. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Conor O’Shea’s squad have a puncher’s chance in their three home games

There are a few selection conundrums for Ireland coach Joe Schmidt. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Getting to the final game against England unbeaten could be a difficult assignment

Guy Noves could be building a  squad capable of competing with the best. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Tournament may be coming a little too soon for fast-improving French

England’s head coach Eddie Jones has enjoyed a honeymoon period since taking over from Stuart Lancaster. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Justifiable championship favourites with record in their sights

Alun Wyn Jones: takes over as captain from Sam Warburton. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Fixtures fall nicely and Rob Howley has form as coach, but lack of creativity a weakness

Vern Cotter: will leave Scotland in a better position than when he took over. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Opening fixture against Ireland should set tone for the Scots’ tournament

The full fixture details for the Champions Cup knockout stages have been revealed. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Leo Cullen’s team first in action at Aviva, before Munster v Toulouse at Thomond Park

Ireland Under-20 captain Jack Kelly. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Fullback will be sixth consecutive Under-20 captain from Dublin school St Michael’s

 Keith Earls in action for the British and Irish Lions in 2009. The Munster man did not feature in the preceding Six Nations tournament for Ireland. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Earls and Quinlan were named in 2009 squad despite missing tournament for Ireland

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