New Zealand’s TJ Perenara hits Ireland fullback  Rob Kearney high at the Aviva Stadium in November. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Penalties for reckless or accidental hits have increased since guideline was introduced

A general view of play as the Texas Rangers played host to the Los Angeles Angels at Globe Life Park in Arlington earlier this month. Photo: Getty

After just 20 years of service, some American venues are already considered obsolete

The European Tour have announced a multi-year partnership with Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) operator PlayON. Photograph: Getty

European Tour goes where PGA Tour perhaps surprisingly has not

Leicester Tigers’ Telusa Veainu goes past Joe Rokocoko of Racing 92 in their semi-final clash. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

The New tournament was supposed to rescue the European game. So where is everyone?

1989: Pitcher Tommy John of the New York Yankees in action during a game. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn /Allsport

A quarter of MLB pitchers have had surgery to repair elbow ligaments

England prop Joe Marler is being investigated by World Rugby for racist abuse of  Wales prop Samson Lee. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty

The decision by French authorities to lift a 15-week European ban demands attention

Dr Patricia Mulcahy opened the International Society of Performance Analysis of Sport’s (ISPAS) 6th International Workshop at IT Carlow. Photo: inpho

An analyst’s scientific skills are transferable across a variety of sporting disciplines

Michael Lewis, Bill James and Paul DePodesta at the Sloan Sports Analytics conference in Boston.

Despite recent ‘Moneyball’ reunion, analytics behemoth perhaps needs reshaping

Sam Jackson, a student from the University of Sussex, found no statistically-significant correlation between a goalkeeper’s height and their performance dealing with crosses. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP

Putting figures and young statistical turks together is a good thing

Wales backrow Dan Lydiate. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

This recent officiating ‘fashion’ should evolve into a permanent style

Sam Warburton of Wales: no suprise to see him at the top of the Six Nations stats list. Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire

Championship ruck data throws up interesting moves but the technology has a way to go

 Johnathan Sexton: was targeted off the ball by France’s Yohann Maestri.  Photograph: Alan Betson

Sometimes being ‘committed to the tackle’ is a concept that covers a multitude of sins

 Leicester City’s manager Claudio Ranieri: Differences within the Premier League are one thing but from a broader perspective Leicester are becoming a bigger fish in football’s pie. Photograph: EPA

Premier League title success could well bring problems as broadcast deal creeps in to view

The Fifth Concussion Consensus Conference will be held in Berlin in October.

Recovery is an aspect which is currently missing from return to play protocols

Toner ready to step up to the task of leading Ireland’s lineout strategy

Clermont’s players after the European Champions Cup rugby union match against Begles-Bordeaux over the weekend. Photograph: Thierry Zoccolan/AFP/Getty Images

Seasons are rarely defined by one event, but all those small moments will add up

Clermont’s Viktor Kolelishvili in action against the Ospreys. The Georgian backrow has been suspended for 14 weeks for pushing referee Wayne Barnes. Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire

The case of Viktor Kolelishvili shows the importance of upholding the rules

  Lionel Messi waves holding his trophy after receiving the 2015 Fifa Ballon d’Or award  at the Kongresshaus in Zurich. Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Open ballot and an evenly split electorate pool helps transparency

Head coach Joe Schmidt with his number eight Jamie Heaslip, who captained Ireland under Declan Kidney. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Leadership not single job and Schmidt will know players who can fulfill necessary roles

New Zealand’s flanker and captain Richie McCaw holds the Webb Ellis Cup aloft as he celebrates with teammates. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Hard data from tournament reveals Tier Two countries are closing gap on elite sides

Gary Ringrose in action against Scarlets. It’s time to consider bumping Te’o to the end of the centre queue and invest that time into someone who might offer Leinster, and Ireland, a greater return. Photograph: Ian Cook/Inpho

Leinster should see what they really have in the young man already in blue

India captain MS Dhoni in action during the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup match against Zimbabwe. Photograph: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

Fantasy sports firms in crosshairs of New York attorney general

France have already been given the top slot in the best-positioned group for progress in Euro 2016. Photograph: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

Hosts France have an immediate advantage due to the tournament’s 24-team structure

A message to congratulate Jamie Vardy  on the new Premier League record of scoring 11 consecutive games is displayed at the King Power Stadium: the Leicester striker’s 14 goals are 73 per cent of the average Premier League team’s 19 so far this  season. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Due to rule changes in soccer it can be difficult to compare player performances

Fenway Sports Group sought to introduce a Moneyball strategy when they bought Liverpool in 2010. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Those who keep an eye on numbers are having increasing influence of strategy

Connacht video analyst Conor McPhillips videos scrum training on an iPad. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Collecting data not enough – knowing how to present it to players is key step

Saracens’ ‘prize’ for beating the top seeds away in last season’s quarter-final was a semi-final  at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in St Etienne against Clermont. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Winding road to a home semi-final involves a number of rather confusing permutations

Bills Simmons, the founder of the Grantland website, came to media prominence via an untraditional route. Photograph: Mike Windle/Getty Images.

Closure of ESPN website leaves void in world of online sports writing

David Pocock and Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe  in last week’s semi-final: Pocock  gave a wonderful display of thievery against Argentina. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Rugby World Cup final: All Blacks might just have enough in tank to defeat Australia

Craig Joubert, the referee, sprints off the pitch after the final whistle after Scotland are defeated by Australia at Twickenham. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

South African referee should have faced up to irate Scots after his poor crucial call

Ireland flanker Sean O’Brien arrived at 44 breakdowns against France. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Joe Schmidt game demands quick ruck ball but his key operatives have been ruled out

The IRFU pays each Ireland player a basic fee for making the Rugby World Cup 2015 squad (between €30,000 and €40,000). Photograph: Fotolia

If Ireland were to win it all, each of the 31 squad members would get a €100k bonus

The opening weekend of the World Cup saw the TMO in use 25 times in eight games, a rate that has thankfully slowed down since. Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire.

Kind of teams being punished for indiscipline much more likely to be down pecking order

Fiji’s winger Nemani Nadolo reacts after losing theopening match of the Rugby World Cup to England. Photograph: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

Chance to level the playing field through fairer scheduling is being missed

Ulster’s Craig Gilroy leaves the field with concussion during  a Heineken Cup match: the graduated return-to-play protocol enabled a team’s medical staff to declare a player fit to return to duty after six days. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

More awareness about the impact of sport’s invisible injury is vital for player welfare

Gilbert’s Match XV ball will be used at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Photograph: Getty

A look at the balls used from the Mitre Multiplex through to Gilbert’s Match XV

Golf rankings are done over  a rolling two year period, hence the current flip-flopping of Rory Ilroy and Jordan Speith that seems so incongruous with current results. Photograph:Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Confusing as they may be ignore rankings at your peril –they can have a major impact

Ian Madigan could play at scrumhalf if necessary for Ireland.

Schmidt could bring extra forward if he trusts Madigan to fill in at scrumhalf

Leinster interim head coach Leo Cullen at an open training session at Edenderry RFC yesterday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

He may be only 37 but the ex-Leinster secondrow has always been a natural leader

Toulouse’s Irish player Trevor Brennan punches an Ulster fan ahead of a Heineken Cup match in 2007 Photograph: Pascal Pavani/AFP/Getty Images)

Physically taking it to over-zealous fans is a risky business for professional athletes

Stephen Cluxton takes a free for Dublin.  Rob Carroll says 30 metres or less from goal “other than if a player is one on one with the keeper . . the upside of a foul is non-existent.” Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

It’s time to end the secrecy and pool players’ statistics for good of the game

 Dennis Bergkamp: found the Italian attitude  to space frustrating  in his years at Inter Milan. Photo:  Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Like top musicians, great sportsmen know the score when it comes to that key area

Tom Williams of Harlequins is replaced as blood pours from his mouth during the infamous Heineken Cup quarter-final against Leinster. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Various not-so-sporting methods have been employed to smooth a path to victory

EUGENE, OR - JUNE 28: Justin Gatlin runs to victory in the Mens 200 Meter during day four of the 2015 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Hayward Field on June 28, 2015 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Advances in training mean more athletes will extend peak years, like Gatlin has done

Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton receives treatment after getting a bang on the head against Australia last November. Photograph: Colm O’Neill/Inpho

Playing of sport should be encouraged but so should an understanding of potential risks

Clermont Auvergne players react after losing the French Top 14 final against Stade Francais at the Stade de France in Paris. It was their 11th loss in 12 French finals. Photograph: Damien Meyer/Afp/Getty

Referee Gauzere’s error denies them their last tilt at glory after Stade’s late penalty

The ambidextrous Major League Baseball player Pat Venditte pitched left-handed before switching his glove from his right to left hand. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

It is often the unconventional that can give a player or team that all-important edge

Northampton’s Dylan Hartley tussles with Saracens’ Jamie George and Jacques Burger during the Aviva Premiership semi final. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

Dylan Hartley is an easy target and will miss the World Cup but Yoann Huget has got off lightly

Golf’s posterboy Rory McIlroy may be Irish but membership numbers across the country are dwindling. Photograph: Inpho

More than 50,000 golfers have failed to renew memberships in Ireland and UK since 2014

 Luke Charteris tackles Jamie Heaslip during the Six Nations match in Cardiff. Initially Charteris was credited with 37 tackles during the game but that has now been reduced by six. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images.

Statistics provide great insight but can be dangerous in the wrong hands

Jamie Cudmore in his eye-catching footwear in the Champions Cup final against Toulon. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Jamie Cudmore’s eye-catching boots are legal but the same cannot be said for some of those now being worn

“You like to think, if there are rules and you sign up to those rules, then everybody plays by those rules. There is no grey area,” said Conor O’Shea. Photograph: Tony Marshall/Getty Images

A return to distrust and ill-feeling of past is something no one wants to see

Frank Skinner with Statto (Angus Loughran) and David Baddiel who fronted BBC Two’s Fantasy Football League 20 years ago. Photograph: Getty

But can European operators emulate the successful American model

The extra 20 minutes Leinster played against Toulon will have taken a lot of the fuel out of the tank for Friday’s match against Ulster at Ravenhill. Photograph:   Bertrand Langlois/AFP/Getty Images

The champions’ exertions in Marseilles won’t help them overcome the odds

Ben Te’o scores one of his two tries against the Dragons. The New Zealand-born centre’s should be key part of a stronger Leinster outfit next season. Photograph: Ian Cooks/Inpho

Province could find themselves in Europe’s pool of death next season

France’s Jean Van De Velde smiles at photographers as he looks for his ball in the Barry Burn on the 18th green during the final round at the 1999 British Open in Carnoustie, Scotland. Photograph: INPHO/ALLSPORT

ShotLink offers statistics fiends a chance to examine real-life datasets

Keeping a player like Jamie Heaslip in Ireland has an impact both on the present and the future. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Schmidt’s men boast a level of mutual understanding that is helping them outperform rivals

Paul O’Connell led the championship in being one of the first three arrivals to an attacking ruck 144 times; his partner Devin Toner was just behind with 140. Photograph: Billy Stickland

This is a low-risk efficient Irish team based on fantastic kicking and excellent rucking

Ireland outhalf Johnny Sexton: through the first three rounds of this season’s he had had a 91 per cent kicking success rate. Photograph: Inpho

Andy McGeady: The two factors with a significant impact on the probability of kick success are distance and angle

Paul O’Connell celebrates a try on his Ireland debut against Wales in the  2002 Six Nations. Photograph: INPHO/Allsport

Ireland captain set to reach 100 cap milestone against Wales in Six Nations this weekend

“That’s some unique s**t, man” was supposedly LeBron James’s reaction to being presented with a chart of every shot he had taken over the previous five seasons.   Photograph: Hans Deryk/Reuters.

European soccer conspicuous by its absence from Boston ‘revival meeting’

Adam Jones walks off with a dislocated shoulder  during the second Test  between South Africa and the British and Irish Lions in 2009, after Bakkies Botha hit him with a no-arm clearout. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

No-arm charges at rucks are just as dangerous as the highlighted tackles

Long runs of consecutive wins have historically been hard to earn

Rugby unions must balance the need to generate cash with serving public needs

Robbie Henshaw is heavier than the average forward from the 1985 Irish team

Ireland's Jordi Murphy in the 2014 Six Nations match against England at Twickenham. Photograph: ©INPHO/James Crombie

Arriving quickly to the breakdown is the unglamorous and unseen work that can decide the outcome of a match, writes Andy McGeady

Simon Zebo gets a GPS unit inserted in the pouch in his training jersey

To gain an edge on and off the pitch, in training, playing and even sleeping, all manner of equipment is being used

All Blacks Kieran Read, Steve Hansen (head coach), Richie McCaw and Sam Whitelock celebrate after their victory over South Africa at Ellis Park Johannesburg on October 5th, 2013. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty

New Zealand by no means the biggest side in world rugby but that doesn’t stop them winning

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