Jordi Murphy:  “You can get injured at any time. But you are in a vulnerable position when you are over the ball.” Photograph: Getty Images

‘If you are anywhere near the ball you take the opportunity to get over it,’ says Ulster man

Billy Vunipola celebrates Saracens’ victory over Munster in Coventry. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty

BT Sport lionise Saracens number eight while Munster’s excuse just doesn’t wash

Leinster’s Sean O’Brien is tackled by Antoine Dupont. Flanker was back to his inspirational best against Toulouse at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Hugely influential pair have surely earned the right to start against Saracens

Johnny Sexton and Rob Kearney celebrate after victory over Toulouse in the Champions Cup semi-final at the Aviva. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Leinster captain under no illusions about the scale of the task facing holders in the final

Johnny Sexton: “I am lucky that I am surrounded by coaches that know the game really, really well. I listen to their advice and I try to ignore as much of the noise as I can.” Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Leinster outhalf brushes off criticism and ready to lead from the front in semi-final

Saracens: bounced back from the defeat to Leinster last year to claim a fourth Premiership crown since 2011. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Key figures in the pack that bullied Ireland at the Aviva now have Munster in their sights

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt will cut his World Cup squad from 45 down to 31. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

A timeline set by World Rugby says that all countries must cut down to 31 players

Billy Vunipola in action for Saracens on Saturday. Photograph: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

There are lessons to be learned from Irish rugby’s archaic male committees

Mike Haley is among the two players expected to start in  the Champions Cup semi-final which will also play against Benetton in the Pro14. Photograph: Inpho

Just two players set to start in Champions Cup semi-final to play in Pro14 clash

Ulster coach Dan McFarland and Iain Henderson.  McFarland’s team must rediscover the form that almost dethroned the European champions at the Aviva Stadium

Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill says his side have to win Conference B clash

Leinster rugby have began their long awaited plan to move towards gender equality. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

She also joins 10-man management committee chaired by Leinster branch president

Robbie Henshaw is ready to return to the Leinster team. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Providing they come through unscathed both will almost certainly start vs Toulouse

Ulster coach Dan McFarland: he must find a way to re-energise his players to ensure Treviso or Edinburgh do not reel them in. Photograph:  Michael Steele/Getty Images

Glasgow are favourites, but who knows what the capitulation to Saracens did to their confidence

Munster’s Mike Haley: he   returns at full back against Cardiff Blues. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Caution in Munster selection as Niall Scannell, CJ Stander, Tadhg Beirne on bench

Ireland’s Josh van der Flier in action against France in the  Guinness Six Nations Championship Round 4 at the Aviva Stadium on March 10th.  Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

With Dan Leavy out of World Cup, Ireland coach will be forced to dig a little deeper

Jacob Stockdale during Ulster’s narrow Champions Cup defeat to Leinster. Photograph: Donall Farmer/PA

Ross Byrne’s performance against Ulster means Sexton’s absence is felt less

 Leinster’s Jack Conan  sees off a challenge from Ulster’s John Cooney  in their   Champions Cup quarter-final victory at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

Coach admits side ‘not quite there’ after narrow win in Champions Cup quarter-final

A dejected  Jacob Stockdale at the final whistle of Ulster’s   Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final defeat to Leinster at the Aviva stadium. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

Winger’s failure to touch down second-half try proves costly as Ulster fall short

John Cooney at an Ireland training session at Carton House. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ruan Pienaar’s departure proved to be key as scrumhalf made move to Belfast from Connacht

Leinster’s Ross Byrne will take the place of injured Johnny Sexton for their Champions Cup quarter-final clash with Ulster. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Rob Kearney and Jack McGrath also miss out while Iain Henderson starts for Ulster

Rory Best in training for Ulster. Photograph: Matt Mackey/INPHO

Ulster captain admits team must take every chance to beat Leinster in Champions Cup

Ulster head coach Dan McFarland during a training session at Pirrie Park. Photograph: Matt Mackey/Inpho

Michael Lowry is likely to start at fullback against Leinster as the injuries pile up

Ronan O’Gara and Paul O’Connell are both set to leave their current coaching roles in New Zealand and France respectively. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

O’Gara set for job with France while O’Connell is to leave Stade Francais a year early

 Cillian Willis in Wicklow this week: never wanted to be a “test case” for concussion in rugby. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

'Unless you have to be dragged off you wouldn’t leave a pitch. That’s the reality.'

Wales coach Warren Gatland following their Grand Slam victory at the Principality Stadium. Photograph: David Davies/PA

Coach admits his side probably got a couple of decisions their way in Grand Slam victory

James Ryan cuts a dejected figure following the defeat to Wales in Cardiff. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland’s discipline and game plan unravelled long before the finish

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has called out the media for not helping Ireland’s cause. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

The Offload offers the squad that should travel to Tokyo if World Cup was next week

The Ireland team stand for the national anthems before the game. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Gavin Cummiskey runs the rule over the Ireland players after a dreadful day in Cardiff

Rory Best: ”We always strive to get better. We haven’t done that.”

Decision to leave Principality roof open backfired badly for Joe Schmidt's side

The Ireland Women’s Rugby Captain’s Run at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park, Wales on Friday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Lindsay Peat delivers wake-up call to IRFU as shambolic Six Nations campaign nears end

 George North of Wales scores the first try during the Six Nations match between Wales and Ireland at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff in March  2017. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Principality stadium has always been the place of Irish dreams and nightmares

 A view of an open roof at Ireland’s  Captain’s Run. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

‘We made a decision on playing a game of rugby in the outdoors’

The closed roof in the Principality Stadium. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Wales have asked the Six Nations to close Principality stadium roof, citing the weather

Cian Healy, Tadhg Beirne and James Ryan all start against Wales. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Joe Schmidt makes three changes with Rob Kearney and Seán O’Brien also returning

Garry Ringrose has started to take a leadership role for Ireland. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Women’s rugby heading towards permanent professionalism elsewhere but not here

France’s hooker Guilhem Guirado talks with his players during the Six Nations loss to Ireland. Photo: Damien Meyer/Getty Images

Les Bleus held the ball in hand in Ireland’s 22 for a grand total of 22 seconds on Sunday

Jordan Larmour of Ireland in action during the Six Nations win over France. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Impressive performance from Ireland’s 21-year-old fullback brings crowd to its feet

A tackle on France’s Gael Fickou in Stade De France, Paris. “He has beaten lads on the outside, and, having played on the wing, he has proved he is fast enough.” Photograph:  Adam Davy/PA Wire

The two prodigious 24-year-old number 13s finally meet in organised combat on Sunday

Ireland’s Josh van der Flier has returned to the starting lineup for Sunday’s Six Nations clash with France in Dublin. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Josh van der Flier has returned to the lineup as one of six changes in the Ireland pack

 France celebrate their victory in the World  Rugby U-20 Championship final against England. Photograph: Levan Verdzeuli/Getty Images

Laporte presiding over the structural changes that could see Les Bleus punch their weight

CJ Stander has recovered from the facial injury he sustained against England. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Joe Schmidt expected to make seven changes from side that faced Italy

Johnny Sexton, in his role as International Rugby Players’ Council president, has  branded plans for an extended November window as out of touch. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Six Nations side could face three years out due to World Cups or Lions tours

Brett Gosper has promised the Pacific Islanders would not be “shut out”  of any World League creation. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Jack McGrath is seemingly Ulster bound next season, and it could open the floodgates

Daniel Leo in action for Samoa against South Africa during  the 2011 World Cup in Auckland. Photograph: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty

Daniel Leo furious over plans to exclude Fiji, Samoa and Tonga from Nations League

What’s happening with the proposed new ’League of Nations’ and how will it impact on Irish rugby?

Joe Schmidt can’t quite put his finger on why Ireland have started this year’s Six Nations so poorly. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

The hits keep coming, and will keep on coming and coming, for clever Johnny Sexton

 Ultan Dillane and Sean Cronin during an Irish training session at Carton House. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Roscommon native Jack Carty named on the Ireland bench with Joey Carbery ruled out

Italy’s fly half Tommaso Allan runs on his way to score a try during their international rugby union test match against Georgia in Florence last November.  Photograph: Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images

Manager’s contract ends after 2020 Six Nations, but so far he has not spurred growth

John Cooney at the Ireland Rugby Captain’s Run at  Murrayfield in Scotland on February 8th. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

The scrum-half has had his injury troubles, but perseverance and self-belief may prevail

Jonthan Sexton recieves medical treatment after sustaining an injury during the Six Nations match between Scotland and Ireland at Murrayfield. Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Concerns raised about Ireland outhalf’s style of play after another injury against Scotland

 Ireland’s Conor Murray in action against Scotland. Photograph: Russell Cheyne/Reuters

Mutual respect is obvious as Martin Johnson and Paul O’Connell means good TV

Ireland’s Chris Farrell  takes on Huw Jones and Sam Johnson of Scotland during the Six Nations clash at Murrayfield. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Power the Munster man offers can be a vital asset for Ireland going forward

Ireland’s Sean O’Brien and Jack Conan with Scotland’s Simon Berghan at  Murrayfield. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Josh van der Flier, for all his blooming talent, is no groundhog. Not of O’Brien’s ilk

Ireland’s Jonny Sexton lies injured against Scotland during the Six Nations match at Murrayfield. Photo: Graham Stuart/PA Wire

Ireland outhalf was withdrawn at half-time after shipping a number of early knocks

Ireland’s Peter O’Mahony gets ready to go past Scotland’s Simon Berghan. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Business as usual for Peter O’Mahony as Ireland flanker stands out in Edinburgh

 Ireland captain Rory Best with his team-mates during the captain’s run at Murrayfield. Photograph:  Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Captain Rory Best says visitors will tailor their game plan to account for Storm Erik at Murrayfield

Seán O’Brien talks to Ireland forwards coach Simon Easterby during the Captain’s Run at Murrayfield ahead of Saturday’s Six Nations match against Scotland. Photograph:    Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Devin Toner out for two months after undergoing ankle surgery

Ireland’s Alison Miller: she is playing in her  10th Six Nations. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Ireland winger continues her remarkable recovery as Ireland face Scotland at Scotstoun

Jack Conan: “I can carry the ball, I can offload, I think defensively I’ve got a lot better over the last few years and that’s something I hope to bring this weekend, making collision-winning tackles.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Number eight keen to make 12th cap a big performance to remember

Chris Farrell during the Ireland training session at Carton House on Thursday. Photograph:  Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Leinster man is the latest Ireland player to fall as Joe Schmidt’s options continue to thin

Peter O’Mahony, Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy and Jonathan Sexton at Ireland rugby squad training in Carton House, Co Kildare on Tuesday.  Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

With injury piling up on injury, Ireland are getting perilously close to their trauma limit

Alison Miller (centre) during Ireland’s Captain’s Run ahead of the England game. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Adam Griggs’s side in need of confidence-boosting victory at Scotstoun

Joe Schmidt: “We were very quiet before the game. I didn’t sense the same energy levels I would have in November when the All Blacks came.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Joe Schmidt detected a lack of the usual vibrancy from the group on Saturday

England’s Elliot Daly scores a try after a mistake by Ireland’s Jacob Stockdale during the Six Nations clash at the Aviva Stadium.  Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA

Ample evidence of just what a power game England are capable of producing at the World Cup

CJ Stander of Ireland is tackled by Maro Itoje and George Kruis of England during the Six Nations match at the Aviva stadium. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

No 8 played most of match with suspected fractured cheekbone and eye socket

Garry Ringrose can’t prevent Henry Slade from scoring for England. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

Gavin Cummiskey looks at Joe Schmidt’s side after a comprenensive opening defeat

Eddie Jones: “The doctor said, ‘If you recover fully you can coach until you’re 70.’ I might keep him to that”. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Jones must embrace change in a game he had figured out with mathematical precision

Bundee Aki: “He [Tuilagi wasn’t that big back then but very strong, as strong as he is now. I think he rolled over Josh [Matavesi] that day.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland centre looking forward to playing with his former Connacht team mate Henshaw again

Emily Scarratt of England in action against Wales during a Sevens clash. Her midfield duel with Ireland’s Sene Naoupu could prove a highlight of the Women’s Six Nations clash in Donnybrook. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Increasing professionalism of the visitors likely to test home XV to the limit and beyond

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has explained the thinking behind his first team announcement of the 2019 Six Nations. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Irish head coach says he has no intention of prematurely discarding Rob Kearney

Robbie Henshaw starts at fullback for Ireland in their Six Nations opener. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

No place for Rob Kearney or Jack McGrath on the bench for Six Nations opener

Maro Itoje is one of the few England internationals to make the transition from the under-20s to senior grade in a relatively short space of time. Photograph: Getty Images

Glittering success at underage level has yet to reap real dividends for England’s senior side

 Ireland’s Josh van der Flier is expected to be named at openside for the Six Nations opener against England. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Robbie Henshaw to come in at fullback in other tight selection call for Saturday’s game

Ireland captain Ciara Griffin: will be supported by Sene Naoupu and Claire Molloy against a fully   professional England side. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Strong trio will lead Irish team at Donnybrook on Friday at controversial 5pm time

Robbie Henshaw is expected to move from centre to fullback against England this weekend. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Leinster back expected to move to 15 with Bundee Aki likely to get the nod at inside centre

James Lowe scores a try for Leinster against the Scarlets. Photograph: Ben Whitley/Inpho

James Lowe blames size for New Zealand’s alarming drop-off in rugby participation

Bill Johnston: Munster outhalf gets his opportunity to impress against the Dragons at Rodney Parade. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Welsh club have really struggled when facing Irish provinces in recent times

Leinster’s Barry Daly scores a try during the Guinness Pro 14 game at the  RDS. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Leo Cullen says Jack McGrath and Rob Kearney will benefit from game time

Peter O’Mahony and Dan Goggin celebrate Munster’s win over Exeter which secured their place in the Champions Cup knockouts. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Player eligibility will not be a problem this season; dates, times and TV confirmed

Leinster’s Rob Kearney is chased by James Lowe during training ahead of the Pro14 clash with Scarlets. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Pair are being given valuable Leinster game time in the Pro14 ahead of the Six Nations

Ulster’s Darren Cave sent out a very questionable tweet after Ulster’s win. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

With 20 from 20 Joey Carbery has finally filled Ronan O’Gara’s 10 red jersey

Owen Farrell: England outhalf will be on duty for Saracens against Glasgow Warriors. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Scarlets likely to suffer the expected backlash in Paris

A general view of the International Stadium in Yokohama where Ireland will start their Rugby World Cup campaign against Scotland. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

Games featuring Ireland, England, New Zealand and Japan will attract the most demand

Jacob Stockdale of Ulster is mobbed by team mates after scoring a try against Racing 92 at Kingspan Stadium. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Ulster winger boasts six tries in Europe this season and 12 in his 14 Ireland caps

Simon Zebo: tweeted about comments directed his way from among the attendance at Kingspan Park. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Overwhelming backing for Irish international’s post-Kingspan Park game tweet

 Jacob Stockdale of Ulster scores his second try against Racing 92 during the Champions Cup clash at the  Kingspan Stadium in Belfast. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty

Ireland winger grabs a couple of crucial tries as Racing are kept at bay in Belfast

Racing’s Simon Zebo arrives at Ravenhill for the Heineken Champions Cup clash with Ulster. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

28-year-old tweeted after the defeat to Ulster about comments heard from the crowd

Ulster’s Will Addison kicks a penalty against Racing  92. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Will Addison did not delay his late penalty and allowed Racing to restart the match

  Jacob Stockdale scores his first try. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Dan McFarland’s side move a step closer to the quarter-finals with win at Kingspan Stadium

Ulster’s Eric O’Sullivan against Benetton.“Over the last 18 months he has been getting stronger and stronger.” Photograph: Elena Barbini/Inpho

The prop is a prime example of the IRFU’s leave-no-player-behind policy

Johnny Sexton has been ruled out of Leinster’s crunch Champions Cup clash with Toulouse. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Leinster head into crunch Champions Cup clash with significantly weakened backline

 Cillian Willis in action for  Sale  during the LV= Cup semi-final against  Saracens at  Salford City Stadium in  March, 2013.  Photograph: Paul Thomas/Getty Images

News round-up: Leinster register Conor O’Brien; changes afoot in Munster

Connacht winger Cian Kelleher runs in a try during  the Guinness Pro 14 game against Munster at the  Sportsground. Photograph:  Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Former Academy player looking to push on and win international honours

TG4 putting a microphone on Jerry Flannery was an excellent addition to their Pro14 coverage at the weekend. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Meanwhile, we saw Connacht’s cardinal sins and is there an English rugby civil war coming?

Leinster’s Johnny Sexton clashes with Munster’s Joey Carbery as referee Frank Murphy looks on. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Cullen and Kearney defend Sexton after he admits being ‘too revved up’ against Munster

Leinster’s Ciarán Frawley is a man with a point to prove in the Pro14 encounter against Ulster at the RDS on Saturday. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Starting lineups for this January interpro aren’t full of stars but there’s plenty at stake

Leinster’s James Lowe collides with Munster’s Andrew Conway during the Guinness Pro 14 derby at Thomond Park. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Winger will miss Pro 14 derby with Ulster and visit of Toulouse in Champions Cup

 Johnny Sexton celebrates with Bundee Aki after scoring the match-winning  drop goal. Photograph:  Getty Images

Grand Slam campaign was about to be holed below the waterline until ‘Le Drop’

Johnny Sexton was taken off after 60 minutes of Leinster’s defeat to Munster with his side trailing by six points. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Sexton’s withdrawal gave clash between rivals the feeling of an elite training session

Joey Carbery: Munster will be looking for a big display from the outhalf against his former team-mates. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Munster need to produce a clinical edge in attack to stall the champions’ progress

More articles