Germany coach Joachim Low: says he is expecting a very intense game against Martin O’Neill’s Irish side in Gelsenkirchen. Photo:  Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Coach Joachim Löw without important trio for upcoming qualifiers against Poland and the Republic

Ireland’s Sophie Spence enjoys the moment after her side’s bruising World Cup opener against the USA at Marcoussis in Paris. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Fullback Niamh Briggs kicks 13 points and adds a try as Philip Doyle’s side survive physical onslaught

 Ireland’s Sophie Spence celebrates after victory over the USA in Marcoussis, Paris. Photograph: Dan Sheridan / Inpho

Tries from Ailis Egan and Niamh Briggs help Ireland secure a 23-17 victory over the USA

 Aurelien Rougerie of ASM Clermont Auvergne was among three France internationals violently attacked  with ‘knives, machetes and sabres’.  Photograph:   Harry Engels/Getty Images

France internationals Benjamin Kayser, Julien Pierre and Aurelien Rougerie hospitalised

Toulon outhalf Jonny Wilkinson: doubt against Munster with hamstring injury. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Perpignan on verge of relegation after defeat to European champions

Yoann Huget bowls over Brian O’Driscoll during France’s Six Nations decider against Ireland. The Toulouse man will feature at fullback against Munster.

It’s testament to Munster’s standing in Europe that several Toulouse players are happy to talk themselves up as underdogs

President of reigning Heineken Cup champions Mourad  Boudjellal is of Algerian origin. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho.

Mourad Boudjellal refuses to take his side to Béziers after town voted far-right party into power

France gracious in defeat as no one prepared to argue that Schmidt’s men did not deserve their victory

Young French  centre Gael Fickou will line out opposite Brian O’Driscoll  at Stade de France. Photograph:  David Rogers/Getty Images

France coach not keen to give too much away ahead of Paris showdown with Ireland

Maxime Medard in action against England. The France winger accepts that  critics of his side’s play this eaosn have a valid point. Photograph:  Martin BureauAFP/Getty Images

France winger first spotted the Irish centre playing in 1998

Maxime Machenaud of France: “We’ve been able to show that you can win top-level matches without a set piece and without having clean ball,” he said. “Now we want to show a different face.” Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

France scrumhalf eager to test himself on the international stage against his Racing Metro team-mate

Referee Alain Rolland speaks to France captain Pascal Pape during the game against Wales. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Philipe Saint-André drops Louis Picamoles but captain stays on after disrespecting Irish referee

Castres players celebrate with the Bouclier de Brennus after winning the Top 14  final against Toulon last June. Photograph: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty

Canal Plus to broadcast games for next five years at average cost of €71m a season

Samoa and Toulouse forward Joe Tekori: the 122kg forward came off the better in a clash with Paul O’Connell during the Autumn Series Test last month at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Inpho

Samoan giant says he warned team-mates ahead of the 16-14 loss last Sunday

Toulouse captain  Thierry Dusautoir with his pack during the Heineken Cup defeat to Connacht. Photograph: Remy Gabalda/AFP/Getty Images.

‘They put us under pressure constantly’ says fullback Clément Poitrenaud

Jean Pierre Lux, ERC chairman. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Next scheduled meeting on the future of the Heineken Cup October 23rd

Ireland and Racing-Metro outhalf Jonathan Sexton (left) puts in a tackle on Perpignan hooker Maxime Delonca in the Top 14 game at  Yves du Manoir stadium in Colombes. Photograph: Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images)

Ireland’s outhalf reveals how he is settling in both on and off the pitch in France

Austria coach Marcel Koller: “It will be a physical game with a lot of second balls, which we already experienced in the away game. We have to be ready to take on the battle and be willing to cover a lot of ground on the day.” Photograph: Dominic Ebenbichler/Reuters

Confidence of home team shaken after some poor performances against Germany

Austria coach Marcel Koller conducts a training session in Munich yesterday, ahead of tonight’s World Cup qualification match. Photograph: Michael Dalder/Reuters

Coach Koller admits Löw comments about scoring more will be used as motivation

Jonathan Sexton in action against Harlequins at the Praille Stadium in Geneva, Switzerland, yesterday. Photo: Harold Cunningham/Inpho

Irish international enjoys a 40-minute stint in a friendly win over Harlequins

Jonathan Sexton talks to the media on his return to Ireland after the recent Lions tour to Australia. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Former Leinster outhalf admits money wasn’t only factor in signing for Racing Metro

Austrian players celebrate after beating Sweden at the Ernst Happel stadium. Photograph: Dominic Ebenbichler/Reuters

Goals from David Alaba and Marc Janko set them on their way

Imanol Harinordoquy: “It’s the reigning European champions, at their place too, so for us it would be a big achievement, or even a miracle, to win against them.”

Biarritz stalwart says victory away to European Champions Leinster would be ‘a miracle’

Driven on by Vern Cotter’s steely focus, Clermont  have crushed all before them in Europe this season. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Nathan Hines and Jamie Cudmore are determined to put their side on the European map

Vern Cotter: “We’re sort of patching guys up and getting medical staff to give us a run down or give us an assessment of where these players are . . . But hopefully by Saturday we’ll have a team.”

Vern Cotter admits run up has been ‘a little disjointed’ as his side look short at number 10

Passing the bucks: According to the 
Midi-Olympique
 newspaper, Jonathan Sexton is set to be French rugby’s top earner. Photograph: James crombie/Inpho

Irish outhalf will earn €55,000 per month with new club Racing Metro

Ireland’s Conor Sammon competes with Austria captain Christian Fuchs at the Aviva. Photograph: Inpho

Team captain Fuchs says Austria ‘clearly the better side over the 90 minutes’

Philipp Hosiner of Austria celebrates after scoring his second goal during the 2014 World Cup qualifying Group C soccer match against Faroe Islands.

Philipp Hosiner will be asked to lead the line against Ireland

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