Leinster’s Seán Cronin is looking forward to coming up against Ulster’s Rory Best this weekend. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Ireland hooker joined Leinster team-mates for meeting on day after Bath defeat

Ian McKinley: former Ireland Under-20 outhalf, who now plays for Zebre, lost his sight in one eye. Photograph: Francesca Soli

Rugby governing body has opted out of protective eyewear trial on ‘safety grounds’

Martin O’Neill: Understands only too well the nature of tribes. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Despite the Football for All campaign, Northern Irish sports fans are still divided

Spectators gather on the pitch after news of the bombing and terrorist attacks in Paris reaches the fans after the international friendly  between France and Germany at the Stade de France  in Paris. Photograph: Adam Pretty/Bongarts/Getty Images

Four Irish sports people who ply their trade in France give some insight into life after last Friday’s atrocities

A picture taken on November 14, 2015 shows a Ulster’s flag with the inscription “Respect for Paris and all the French” at the Charles-Mathon stadium in Oyonnax. Photo: Getty Images

No easy solution for organisers in the aftermath of events in Paris

Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao ahead of their world title fight in  Las Vegas in May. Photograph: Jonathan Alcorn/EPA

Floyd Mayweather tale shows how testing in all sports must be carried out independently

Johnny Sexton did not have his best game in a Leinster jersey against Wasps at the RDS. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho.

Wasps take full advantage of home team’s error-ridden afternoon at the RDS

Leinster coach Leo Cullen said his team’s performance against Wasps in the European Champions Cup at the RDS was “pretty awful”. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho.

Munster have to wait see if Stade Francais tie in Paris is to go ahead as planned

Leinster’s Isa Nacewa and head coach Leo Cullen know the Irish provinces cannot compete financially with English and French clubs. Photograph: Dan Sheridan

Wasps’ brilliant back three highlights new money available to English Premiership clubs

Jonathan Sexton with Leinster head coach Leo Cullen at squad training. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Leo Cullen’s side has unfamiliar look as they kick off European season at home to Wasps

The 2016 Rio Olympic Games will be the biggest tournament in the history of Irish hockey. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.

Craig Fulton has squad preparing for Rio Olympics with three-match series with Spain

Seán Cronin’s World Cup started well with a try against Canada but ended with him being left out of the matchday squads against France and Argentina. Photograph: Stuart Forster/Getty Images.

New Zealander’s return after two-year break from European rugby gives Seán Cronin a lift

Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss. Photograph:  Brian Little/Inpho/Presseye

Ulster travel to the Alps to play French side Oyonnax in their first round European match

Australian referee Angus Gardner will take charge of Ireland’s Six Nations match at home to Italy on March 12th. Photograph: Jason Oxenham/Getty Images

Officials announced for tournament include some new names to tournament

David Nucifora, IRFU, performance director, is leading the review into Ireland’s World Cup displays. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

David Nucifora-led team to report back to the union by the end of November

The Central Stadium in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, where Connacht will take on Yenisey-STM in the Challenge Cup. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Pat Lam’s men face test of adaptability and tenacity as they jump on Siberian express

David Harte: “For me to play in Holland and India and all around the world with Ireland is an incredible experience.” Photo: Dennis Grombkowski/Bongarts/Getty Images

Ireland’s appearatnce at the Olympics will top a fine career for a world-class goalkeeper

Leinster’s Dominic Ryan is tackled by Michael Tagicakibau of Scarlets during the Guinness Pro 12 game at the RDS. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Rob Kearney goes off injured as Scarlets unbeaten start to the season is ended

Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss: It’s getting tougher with English clubs getting salary cap rises. It’s going to be like a shark pool for talent so we want to have an environment that people want to stay in.” Photograph: Inpho

Province’s new director of rugby wants form at Ravenhill to traslate into away success

 Michael Conlan: “Picking up the world number one spot is a great achievement.” Photograph:    Brendan Moran/ Sportsfile/Web Summit

Conlan equals John Joe Nevin’s achievement by becoming number one bantamweight

Robbie Henshaw is set to return for Connacht against Treviso on Friday night. Photograph: Inpho

Ireland centre in full training ahead of Treviso’s visit to the Sportsground on Friday

Luke Fitzgerald  and Leinster team-mate Ben Te’o: Fitzgerald will miss this weekend’s game against Scarlets. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Irish centre has a scan on neck/shoulder injury and will miss Scarlets game

“The family are incredibly excited,” says France-bound Paul O’Connell. “They don’t care about my injuries. They just want to make sure we go.” Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Munster man focusing on Toulon but could spend up to eight months on sidelines

Paul O’Connell’s hamstring injury could rule him out for the entire rugby season. Photograph: Inpho

Ireland and Toulon lock will be out of rugby for between four and eight months

Japan players celebrate their momentous victory over South Africa in the pool section – the Brave Blossoms missed out on a place in the quarter-finals but won the hearts of the rugby world. Photograph: Getty Images

‘Irish Times’ team looks back at an eventful tournament and pick their highs and lows

The IABA delegation arrive at the Oireachtas: Ciarán Kirwan director, CEO Fergal Carruth, president Pat Ryan and chairman Joe Christle. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Across the Atlantic, Billy Walsh is unveiled in USA as the new US Women’s boxing coach

Former Ireland boxing coach Billy Walsh at the recent World Championships in Doha. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Walsh was unveiled as the USA women’s boxing coach on Wednesday

Billy Walsh: “Leaving the Irish team has been one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make.” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Coach’s departure to USA a real blow to the chances of Ireland’s elite boxers in Rio

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt looks dejected as he leaves the pitch following Ireland’s World Cup quarter-final loss to Argentina. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

“I think it was very hard not to respect the performance that Argentina put on”

Duane Vermuelen’s magic pass helped South Africa finally break down Wales in their World Cup quarter-final victory at Twickenham on Saturday. Photograph: Afp

A set move between the number eight and Fourie du Preeze proved Wales’ undoing

South Africa’s Fourie du Preez goes over for his side’s winning try in their victory over Wales at the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals. Photo: Henry Browne/Reuters

Wales captain Sam Warburton bemoaned the number of penalties his side conceded

Wales coach Warren Gatland speaking at a press conference two days before his side’s World Cup quarter-final with South Africa. Photo: Martin Bureau/Getty Images

Wales coach is prepared for a hugely physical 80 minutes against the Springboks

South Africa’s wing JP Pietersen celebrates after scoring a try in the Pool B match against Scotland at St James’ Park. Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images.

After the debacle against Japan, Springboks’ attitude has greatly changed

South Africa’s Eben Etzebeth (centre left) is pushed towards the try line by team-mate Lodewyk de Jager during the  match against the USA at the Olympic Stadium, London. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA

Team to face Wales in quarter-final includes five key players all under 24 years of age

South Africa players arrive for a training session at Pennyhill Park, in Bagshot. Photograph: Christophe Ena/AP

Bryan Habana looks to surpass Jonah Lomu’s RWC try tally for South Africa

 Tommy Seymour celebrates after scoring the first try for Scotland against Samoa at St James’ Park. Scotland won 36-33. Photograph: Lee Smith/Livepic/Reuters

American-born winger looking forward to locking horns with in-form Australia

Wales fullback Liam Williams was the latest player from Warren Gatland’s squad to be ruled out of tournament. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Brett Gosper not alarmed by number of players forced out of World Cup through injury

England’s head coach Stuart Lancaster leaves the   team hotel on Sunday. Photo: Getty Images

England’s premature exit not the end of the world for organisers

Devin Toner celebrates with Iain Henderson after the match.

Ian Madigan, Chris Henry and Iain Henderson make huge contributions

Paul O’Connell tries to get to his feet before being stretchered off.

Ireland captain suffered serious hamstring injury while Sexton, O’Mahony and Earls also helped off

Michael Cheika’s Australia can secure top spot in the pool of death if they beat wales on Saturday. Photograph: Getty

Australia have gone from shambles to people’s favourites in less than a year

Finn Russell returns for Scotland against Samoa as they look for a win which would secure secont place in Pool B. Photograph: PA

Finn Russell returns at St James’ Park as Vern Cotter’s side look to secure second spot

Bryan Habana of South Africa has equalled Jonah Lomu’s record of 15 World Cup tries after scoring a hat-trick against the USA on Wednesday. Photograph: Paul Gilham/Getty Images.

Springboks winger familiar with the hurt of failure but determined not to experience it again

Bryan Habana scored a hat-trick to move level with Jonah Lomu as the World Cup’s all-time leading try scorer as South Africa routed the USA at the Olympic Stadium. Photograph: Reuters

South Africa run in 10 tries to set up last eight showdown with either Wales or Australia

USA ssistant coach Chris O’Brien:  “It’s the fastest growing sport in the country right now and you are seeing kids starting at six and eight years old.” Photograph: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty

Assistant coach Chris O’Brien believes Eagles will soar as game continues to grow stateside

 Wales’s Gareth Davies puts in against Fiji during their World Cup Pool A match at the Millennium Stadium. Wales forward coach Robin McBryde said: “Fiji put England and Australia under pressure but we were under pressure on our own ball (against Fiji) when the hooker was striking.” Photograph: Getty Images

Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde reveals forwards held clear-the-air meeting as to how to play referees

 Owen Farrell leaves the pitch after getting a yellow card against  Australia. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP

More recriminations as assistant coach faces fresh media inquisition on role

Ireland fans outside the Olympic Stadium in London ahead of the World Cup Pool D game  against Italy. Photograph:   James Crombie/Inpho

No time to gloat on England’s departure in this green corner of Leicester Square

“We’re obviously aware of what’s at stake. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work it out,” says England coach Stuart Lancaster of his side’s World Cup clash with Australia. Henry Browne/Reuters

England coach’s lucrative long-term deal with RFU may not survive defeat to Australia

 Centre Jonathan Joseph returns to the England team for the crucial must-win clash against Australia at Twickenham. Photo:  David Rogers/Getty Images

Jonathan Joseph replaces dropped Sam Burgess in the side to face Australia

All Blacks players Keven Mealamu and Waisake Naholo play rugby with a member of the public at the London Eye during an open top bus tour of London. Photograph: Getty.

Lack of continuous presence and vastness of capital city a stumbling block

Luke Fitzgerald: “I find it pretty hard to say that I’m lucky to be here ... I’ve worked very hard.” Photograph: Inpho/Dan Sheridan

Utility player feels years of hard knocks have helped give him mental strength

Australia coach Michael Cheika enjoys a good laugh  during an Australia media session at the Grange Wellington Hotel  in London, United Kingdom. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Australia coach painting hosts as surefire favourites for Saturday

Andy Farrell, the England backs coach: “We need everyone behind us this week. We’re English. Do we want to do well/” Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images.

Coach and captain under pressure as hosts try to regroup for Australia game

Cian Healy charges through the Romania defence. Ireland went on to win 44-10. Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire

The Ireland captain is satisfied with how team has played against Canada and Romania

The England team arrive at Twickenham for their match against Wales in the RBS Six Nations in March last year. Photograph: David Rogers/RFU/via Getty Images

Stuart Lancaster may have betrayed first sign of stress with changes in backline

 Owen Farrell has been chosen to start at outhalf  ahead of team-mate  George Ford for England against Wales. Photo:  David Rogers/Getty Images

Decision to choose Owen Farrell instead of George Ford at outhalf highly controversial

 Wales backs coach Rob Howley:  “The game at the weekend will be about the top four inches. It’s not the physical. It’s certainly a physical game but it is our mental preparation that has to be spot on.” Photo:  David Jones/Getty Images

Wales attack coach not too concerned about rivals’ potential midfield options

South Africa’s “Chiliboy” Ralepelle is serving a two-year suspension. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Rugby union led sports in percentage of positive drug tests in 2013, say Ukad

Romania’s Welsh head coach Lynn Howells at a training session in London:  “We have to hope our players weather France and are still standing for Ireland.” Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

While Japan overcame South Africa, weaker teams are constantly at a disadvantage

France’s prop Rabah Slimani (C) rides a tackle from Italy’s back row Samuela Vunisa (2L) to score France’s first try during the Pool D match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between France and Italy at Twickenham stadium. Photograph: AFP PHOTO / Adrian Dennis

Italian indiscipline ensured the result was never in doubt at Twickenham

New Zealand captain Richie McCaw gets ready to scrum down with his fellow forwards during the Bledisloe Cup match against Australia at Eden Park, Auckland, in August. Photograph:  Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

New Zealand hoping past World Cup mistakes will aid them in quest to make history

An exceedingly English opening ceremony gets Rugby World Cup 2015 under way

France’s head coach Philippe Saint Andre attends a training session at Twickenham  two days before their 2015 Rugby Union World Cup match against Italy. Photo: Franck Fife/Getty Images

Coach wants his team to play with smiles on their faces during World Cup

Munster’s Doug Howlett is tackled by Scott Waldrom of New Zealand in their 2008 match: “I don’t think I felt more alive in a match.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Former All Black Doug Howlett says players are playing for their positions in each game

Doug Howlett says teams prepare for playing the All Blacks as though they were approaching a final. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

‘I’ve found that whoever is playing against the All Blacks play the best game of their life’

Dublin will be the only venue in Europe to host Round Two of the men’s competition, with the other two events going to Trinidad & Tobago and Bangladesh

Hosting World League event continues Ireland’s ambitions to attract top tournaments

Leinster’s Luke McGrath could team up with former St Michael’s College team-mates Cathal Marsh and Ross Byrne for the match against Cardiff. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho.

‘Mads is a brilliant footballer. I’ve no doubt that if he does step in, he can do a good job’

 John Muldoon will line out for Connacht for the 250th time against Glasgow at Scotstoun. Photograph: Getty Images.

Pat Lam makes one change with John Cooney starting at scrumhalf

Ian Madigan may have to feature at scrum half with Ireland just bringing Eoin Reddan and Conor Murray to the World Cup. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

‘Mad’s is a brilliant footballer. I’ve no doubt that if he does step in he can do a good job’

Billy Walsh (centre) at the European Games in Baku in June. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Irish Sports Council claim their attempts to resolve impasse have been ignored

Cian Healy underwent an operation to his neck at the end of last season and will be keen to get game time ahead of the World Cup. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Leo Cullen happy to oblige Joe Schmidt should prop seek to sharpen match fitness

Ulster centre Darren Cave has said the pursuit of a place at the Rugby World Cup took over his life. Photograph: Inpho

Ulsterman admits pursuit of a place in Joe Schmidt’s World Cup squad consumed him

Munster have accepted a request from Donncha O’Callaghan to leave his contract early and join English Premier League side Worcester. Photo: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The secondrow was previously contracted to play with Munster until June 2016

Ireland’s Simon Zebo rides the tackle to break free and score a try. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Fullback believes consistency and individuality pivotal to winning Schmidt’s approval

Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Detailed programme for event must be submitted by February 2017

Ian Madigan in action during an Ireland training session at Carton House on Tuesday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland coach sounded out Ian Madigan over scrumhalf role last season

Cian Healy trains with the Ireland squad at Carton House today. The prop has been cleared to play against England this Saturday. Photo: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Loosehead prop has spent months recovering from an operation on his neck

Girvan Dempsey is currently the interim backs coach for Leinster. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

Ireland manager knows opposition will take advantage of any knowledge they can glean

Billy Walsh and Zaur Antia have been named as coaches for the Ireland team to travel to the Feliks Stamm tournament in Poland on September 9th. Photograph: Kostadin Andonov/Inpho

Ireland boxing coach presently on holidays but named as coach for upcoming trip to to Poland

Paul O’Connell enters into the tunnel along with his son Paddy after playing his final Irish international at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph:   Ryan Byrne/Inpho

‘It’s nice the reaction I got. But it was embarrassing. We just lost a match.’

Ireland boxing head coach Billy Walsh has been offered a post with the US women’s boxing team. Photograph: Kostadin Andonov/Inpho

ISC ‘extremely disappointed that the proposal was not presented to the IABA board’

Paul O’Connell  leads the Ireland Captain’s Run at  Aviva Stadium ahead of Saturday’s World Cup warm-up match against  Wales. Photograph:  Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Ireland captain’s focus is purely on team's preparations for Rugby World Cup

 Ireland head coach Billy Walsh: has overseen a golden period of success in Irish amateur boxing.  Photograph:  Pat Murphy/Sportsfile

Former Olympic boxing team captain says loss of coach would be ‘disgraceful’

 Ireland head coach Billy Walsh has led his teams to unprecedented succes on the world stage in recent years.

Ireland’s head coach understood to have accepted new job with USA

Jack McGrath could be central to Ireland’s World Cup plans should Cian Healy be deemed unfit to play. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho.

As Joe Schmidt ponders options before World Cup, Leinster loosehead prop hopes to be one

Ireland’s former olympic medallist John Joe Nevin returned to the ring with a win in the US. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Irish Olympic medallist beats Victor Capaceta inside the distance in Coney Island

 Paddy Jackson: “I just have to focus on playing 10, getting my roles right and trying manage the team around me.”

Lack of versatility not a concern for Ulster’s specialist outhalf

Cian Healy is very unlikely to feature this weekend against Wales. Photograph: Inpho

Ireland prepare for Paul O’Connell’s last home international against Wales

Ireland captain Lucy Mulhall in action during the World Sevens Series Qualifiers at UCD Bowl. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho.

‘Now we’re in the World Series it gives us a chance to compete against the best’

“Kicking is also part of the game I get confidence from. There’s no doubt if I am kicking well it lifts other parts of my game,” says Ireland’s Ian Madigan. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Accuracy from the tee can be the difference between winning and losing a tournament

Jordi Murphy would relish the chance to bury some of his boyhood backrow heroes at the Rugby World Cup. Photograph: Inpho

Leinster’s Spanish born backrow faces stiff competition to make Joe Schmidt’s final 31

Ireland’s Devin Toner during the captain’s run at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

Lock’s career has been a triumph of learning and building at Leinster and Ireland

Leinster Rugby have this morning confirmed that Leo Cullen has been appointed as head coach on a two year deal. Photograph: Dáire Brennan/Sportsfile

‘Leo’s status as a player is beyond question - an outstanding captain and leader’

Ulster’s Stuart Olding leaves the field after a head injury sustained against Munster at Thomond Park in last season’s Pro12 competition. Photograph: James Crombie

Leinster Rugby and TCD have linked up in two promising brain injury studies

No new injury concerns for the Irish squad after the Scotland victory on Saturday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Positive news emanating from camp regarding Andrew Trimble after second warm-up win for Ireland

 “Tiger Woods is Usain Bolt unable to break 11 seconds over 100 metres.”  Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Watching Tiger play golf has become a voyeuristic, almost furtive engagement

James McGee is the only player from Ireland competing in the Challenger events, which have larger prize funds of €46,000. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Players likely to remain under radar unless they reach main draw of Grand Slam event

Golfing twins, Leona and Lisa Maguire. “As sisters they will always be close,” says their mother, Breda. “But that doesn’t mean they will always be together.” Photograph: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Display at European Ladies Masters further confirmation of world No I amateur’s ability

Katie Taylor has been added to the undercard for Andy Lee’s upcoming fight. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Olympic champion last week responded to Billy Joe Saunders’s sexist comments

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