Jonathan Sexton talks to his Irish teammates in training ahead of Saturday’s Six Nations clash. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Joe Schmidt’s team are looking for second Six Nations win against France on Saturday

Ian Madigan: “If it did happen that they decided to release me and an opportunity to come back to Ireland came up, it definitely would be something that would excite me.” Photograph:  Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Ireland international outlines his time with Bordeaux and how his international ambitions will guide any future decisions

Ireland outhalves Ian Madigan and Paddy Jackson went head  head to head when Bordeaux-Begles’ hosted Ulster in the Champions Cup pool stages. Photograph: Nicolas Tucat/AFP/Getty Images

Outhalf says clear-the-air talks with Bordeaux president was gamble worth taking

Sene Naoupu and Alison Miller: Irish management will  confirm at Thursday’s team announcement if they will face France. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Sene Naoupu, Hannah Tyrrell and Ali Miller could travel to Las Vegas for tournament on March 3rd and 4th

Outhalf Ian Madigan has struggled to hold down a first-team place at Bordeaux-Bégles. Photograph: Nicolas Tucat/AFP/Getty Images

Ireland outhalf must wait for club to sign replacement before making next move

Leinster’s Bryan Byrne streches over to score a try during the Guinness Pro 12 game against Edinburgh at the RDS. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Leo Cullen’s side go top of Pro 12 but at a cost after high injury count high

Ireland’s Garry Ringrose celebrates scoring their seventh try with teammates in their Six Nations win over Italy in Rome. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Gavin Cummiskey runs the rule over Joe Schmidt’s charges after a convincing win

Italy clash will be Cian Healy’s first Six Nations start since March 2015.  Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland prop has struggled for three seasons having burst on scene as ultimate loosehead

Conor Murray: “It’s our team and we want to put it right. We slipped up last weekend.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Ireland camp still seemingly bemused by the errors that contributed to defeat in Scotland

Cian Healy has come in to the Ireland team to face Italy in their second Six Nations match in Rome on Saturday. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

Joe Schmidt again referenced last week’s delay as a factor in defeat to Scotland

Eimear Considine: “This is a chance to be the best you can be and play with the best.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Clare woman part of mass migration of football and camogie players to oval ball game

“If you let a let a player like Finn Russell take a couple of steps and throw 20 metre passes to guys like Hogg, Seymour, Maitland on the wings you are always going to be struggling.” Photograph:   Andy Buchanan/Getty Images

Joe Schmidt’s disappointed players expect torrid Monday morning in Carton House

Dejection: Ireland’s Robbie Henshaw, Conor Murray and Paddy Jackson after the defeat to Scotland at Murrayfield. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Scrumhalf’s performance at Murrayfield sprinkled with enough brilliance to keep the faith

The Ireland team bus arrived eight minutes late at Murrayfield ahead of their opening Six Nations defeat to Scotland. Photograph: Inpho/Billy Stickland

Team bus arrived at Murrayfield eight minutes late before a sluggish first half

Ireland Under 20 head coach Nigel Carolan. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

‘There’s guys there without a doubt who’ll be playing international rugby in a few years’

Scotland’s Greig Laidlaw celebrates his team’s victory. Photograph: Reuters

Joe Schmidt: We arrived in Edinburgh late, and were late to most things thereafter

Ireland’s Jenny Murphy celebrates scoring the winning try during the Women’s Six Nations game against Scotland at Broadwood Stadium in Cumbernauld. Photograph:  Craig Watson/Inpho

Tom Tierney’s side relieved to gain maximum points after error-strewn display

Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton after picking up an injury during the Six Nations match against Italy at the Aviva stadium last year. Photograph: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile/Corbis via Getty Images

Outhalf has completed just one match for Ireland and Leinster this season and five in the last 12 months

Garry Ringrose: ‘It was an opportunity to go in and train with the best players in Ireland. It wasn’t an opportunity that came around to every 19-year-old.’ Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

The Leinster youngster has made a promising start for Ireland but Scotland awaits

Mairead Coyne is backed up by Alison Miller in the Ireland v England match on November 13th. Photograph: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

It won’t be the thrashing of 2015, but Irish expect a convincing win over improved Scotland

Joe Schmidt addresses the media after announcing the Ireland side to play Scotland in the opening Six Nations game on Saturday. Photograph:   Gary Carr/Inpho

Ireland coach says outhalf has ‘outside chance’ of playing against Italy

Ireland’s Claire Molloy in action against England at Belfield: “We have a lot of pride in the green shirt.” Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Galway woman switched from GAA to rugby due to pursuing her medical studies in Cardiff

The Australian has turned the fortunes of English rugby with his fearless attitude

In a recent Champions Cup match, the HIA was completed successfully in under four minutes by Leinster’s Johnny Sexton. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

World Rugby maintained the Berlin gathering had labelled the protocol as ‘field leading’

Ian Madigan’s Bordeaux Bégles team play Clermont Auvergne this Sunday so even if he had been selected by Joe Schmidt he would be unable to join the Irish camp in Carton House. Photograph: Inpho

Starting XV all but picks itself but there is genuine competition for the replacements

Munster’s Ian Keatley celebrates scoring Munster’s third try against Racing 92 in the Champions Cup clash at Thomond Park in Limerick. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Peter O’Mahony leads by example as Erasmus’s side book seal a home quarter-final

Racing 92 defence coach Ronan O’Gara during the French side’s Champions Cup game against Munster at Thomond Park on Saturday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho.

Racing 92 defence coach remains upbeat despite defeat to Munster at Thomond Park

Racing 92 assistant coach Ronan O’Gara ahead of the start of the  Champions Cup game against Munster at Thomond Park on Saturday. Photograph:   Billy Stickland/ Inpho

Former Irish and Munster outhalf relishes return to Thomond Park despite defeat

Munster’s Simon Zebo scores a first half try despite the attentions of Matthieu Voisin and Maxime Machenaud of Racing 92. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

CJ Stander again to the fore as Munster see off Ronan O’Gara’s visiting Racing team

CJ Stander and Jean Kleyn stand shoulder to shoulder with their Munster team-mates. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

CJ Stander, Jaco Taute and Jean Kleyn provide powerful framework of raw power

RC Toulon’s Leigh Halfpenny and nous of Matt Giteau can end Saracens’ 11 game European win record at home. Photograph: Getty Images

European Champions Cup previews: Glasgow need to beat Leicester to reach knockout stages

Munster’s Tommy O’Donnell, above in action against  Racing 92 at Stade Yves-du-Manoir, Paris, returns at openside while and Peter O’Mahony remains at blindside. Photograph: Inpho

Champions Cup: Munster v Racing 92, Thomond Park, Saturday, 5.30pm – Sky Sports 2

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

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