It is nearly decision time for Warren Gatland. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty

It’s nearly decision time for the Lions coach - who should make the South Africa tour?

Munster’s Ronan O’Gara goes by Bryce Williams and Malcolm O’Kelly of Leinster during their Heineken Cup semi-final in 2006. Photograph:  Getty Images/Inpho

Word will have got around about O’Gara’s twisted relationship with Leinster down the years

Dorothy Wall in action during Ireland’s  Women’s Six Nations  third-place playoff against Italy at  Energia Park in  Donnybrook. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Talented backrow knows all about getting the right kind of athletes involved in women’s rugby

Stephen Archer gets to grips with James Ryan during Munster’s win over Leinster. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Leinster secondrow has his Ireland teammate to thank; Ian Madigan stands alone

Ireland’s Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe makes a break against Italy during the Six Nations clash at Energia Park, Donnybrook. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ireland finish third in Six Nations by seeing off Italy but structural reform urgently required

Ireland’s Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe scores her side’s second try during the Six Nations win over Italy. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Visitors were atrocious in possession which meant Irish mistakes weren’t punished

Ireland women’s coach Adam Griggs working with the squad at Donnybrook in advance of the Italy clash. “Top-three finish was our target,” said Griffin, “and that is in our grasp.” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Negative energy around the home squad this week makes this an uphill task for Griggs’s side

Lindsay Peat celebrating a win over Scotland in the Women’s Six Nations Championship at   Energia Park, Donnybrook last year. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Former Dublin footballer and Ireland basketball star will win 34th rugby cap against Italy

Stacey Flood: starts at No 10  against Italy  having  excelled as the outhalf replacement against France – so Hannah Tyrrell makes way. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Veteran Molloy omitted from squad as coach makes three changes to starting Ireland XV

Ireland head coach Adam Griggs  speaks to his team. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Women’s head coach wouldn’t answer when asked why no players were put up for interview

Ireland head coach Adam Griggs with squad members at the Ireland Women v France Women Six Nations game in Energia Park, Donnybrook, Dublin, last Saturday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

The lack of someone running the domestic game is stymieing progress, say sources

Many of the methods used to develop boys and men are ineffective with girls and women. Why? Because they ask why. Photograph: Inpho

Zebo’s character, as much as his rare talent, makes him a boon for any organisation

Ireland head coach Adam Griggs believes his team are improving despite heavy defeat to France. Photograph: Inpho

Head coach Adam Griggs reacts to Ireland’s 56-15 Six Nations defeat to France

Energia Park is expected to be confirmed as the new venue for Saturday’s final match of the Six Nations between Ireland and Italy. Photograph: Inpho

Change of country for Six Nations match must be approved by the Irish government

Ireland’s Women’s Six Nations match is set to be switched from Italy to Donnybrook. Photograph: Inpho

Any form of isolation for amateur Irish players would put the fixture in jeopardy

France’s Caroline Boujard scores her second try during the Six Nations win over Ireland in Donnybrook. Photo: Paul Faith/AFP via Getty Images

Hopes for a competitive Six Nations meeting were dashed as semi-pro visitors ran riot

Linda Djougang: “We are still learning. Everybody, even myself, I am still learning to adapt to the Irish culture. Every single day I learn something new.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

From frontline of the pandemic to the Ireland frontrow, the Ireland tighthead is powering on

Ireland’s Anna Caplice and Beibhinn Parsons during training. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Jessy Trémoulière’s absence for the visitors is a major plus for Ireland on Saturday

Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe is in line to make her Ireland 15s debut in the Six Nations game against France at Donnybrook on Saturday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Adam Griggs names same starting XV for Saturday’s Six Nations clash in Donnybrook

Ireland’s Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe will make her 15s debut against France. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Sevens player is a promising attacking talent while Emma Hooban comes onto the bench

Fiona Coghlan at the launch of the Guinness never settle campaign. Photograph:  Morgan Treacy/Inpho

IRFU in discussions with government as players would have to take time off work

Ireland’s Lauren Delany in action during last weekend’s Women’s Six Nations game against Wales at  Cardiff Arms Park. Photograph: Robbie Stephenson/Inpho

Winger only took up the game at 25 and was spotted while playing in England

 Jack Chambers: “It is crucial we have an equivalent system that is of the same public health standard.” Photograph:   Dara Mac Dónaill

Minister says that outside of training the regime will be the same

Ireland’s Béibhinn Parsons runs at Wales’ Hannah Jones (left) and Lisa Neumann  during the Women’s Guinness Six Nations match at Cardiff Arms Park. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Speedster wants to get off her wing more against France after two tries in opener

Ireland play France in Saturday’s Women’s Six Nations semi-final at Energia Park. File photograph: Inpho

Government grant elite athletes’ exemption to French squad ahead of Saturday’s game in Donnybrook

Beibhinn Parsons impressed as Ireland thrashed Wales in Cardiff. Photograph: Robbie Stephenson/Inpho

Duo were scintillating against a poor Wales side; another head injury for Johnny Sexton

Ireland’s Beibhinn Parsons goes past Elinor Snowsill of Wales during Saturday’s Six Nations victory. Photograph: Inpho

Young duo impress as Ireland breeze past Wales in Women’s Six Nations clash

Ireland are set to play France in the Women’s Six Nations at Energia Park, Donnybrook this Saturday. File photograph: Inpho

IRFU and Six Nations unable to confirm if management and players are exempt

Ireland’s Dorothy Wall scores a try during the Women’s  Six Nations match against Wales  at Cardiff Arms Park. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Béibhinn Parsons and Eimear Considine each grab two tries in shutout

Ireland’s Beibhinn Parsons during training ahead of the Women’s Six Nations clash with Wales. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Adam Griggs’ side showed good promise last year but have been unable to play since

 Sene Naoupu  and Eve Higgins will team up in the Irish centre against Wales. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Ireland open their Six Nations with a trip to Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday

Ireland’s Ciara Griffin will captain the side against Wales. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Welsh were trounced 53-0 by France last week and Adam Griggs sets out a strong team

Ireland’s Eve Higgins will start against Wales in the Six Nations. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Adam Griggs has set out a strong lineup for the meeting in Cardiff

Kathryn Dane in action during the Ireland women’s training session at the   IRFU High Performance Centre in Abbotstown on Tuesday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Truncated Six Nations gets underway on Saturday against Wales in Cardiff

Johaan van Graan’s Munster exited the Champions Cup at the last-16 stage. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Does CEO Flanagan really think the province are close? Keith Earls a Lions bolter again?

Toulon are seventh in the Top 14 with their European campaign roundly expected to run aground at the RDS Showgrounds. File photograph: Getty Images

Rugby’s first galactico club lie seventh in Top 14 but Leo Cullen remains very wary

Jack Crowley possesses all the skills to be an international outhalf. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Rugby media’s ‘nasty underbelly’; Nigel Carolan and the Irish coaching exodus

Leinster’s Ryan Baird competes in the air with Chris Farrell of Munster during the Guinness Pro 14 Final at the  RDS. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Munster coach admits gap between Munster and Leinster remains a wide one

Munster’s Andrew Conway competes in the air with Dave Kearney of Leinster. Photograph: Inpho

Johann van Graan: ‘In terms of playing, we didn’t get a chance to because we got pinned’

Leinster’s Ryan Baird dives to score ahead of Connacht’s Jack Carty. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Pandemic could make it harder to develop stars from every corner of province

France’s Mathieu Jalibert receives attention on the pitch before leaving the field to undergo  a HIA during the Guinness Six Nations match at  Stade de France. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Non-invasive test shown to be 94% accurate could be in use by next season

Ireland’s Jacob Stockdale, Hugo Keenan, CJ Stander, Andrew Porter and Keith Earls celebrate with the Millennium Trophy after beating England in the Six Nations. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Labour and Women’s Rugby Alliance; word of mouth; by the numbers and more

He Got Game: from left, Hill Harper, Travis Best, Ray Allen, John Wallace and Walter McCarty. This was Allen’s first acting role. A raft of rising NBA star’s auditioned to play Jesus Shuttlesworth. Turns out Ray Allen could act. Photograph: ©Touchstone Pictures for Sky Premier

You need dark forces behind you to make it as a basketball star – in this case an obsessive dad

CJ Stander on the phone with his family after making his last appearance for Ireland against England in the Six Nations. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

South African leaves a legacy and those coming behind know what’s expected of them

Johnny Sexton, Robbie Henshaw and Bundee Aki celebrate after Six Nations win over England. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Captain says team were always confident that such a performance was very close

 Billy Vunipola, Owen Farrell and Tom Curry celebrate England’s victory over France. Photograph: Getty Images

Still only 22, the powerful backrow has become a leader for Eddie Jones’ team

CJ Stander’s last match for Ireland will be against England on Saturday. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Ireland forward in line for tax relief of about €500,000 – if 30-year-old remains retired

Jacob Stockdale has been recalled to the Ireland team for the Six Nations match against England on Saturday. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Andy Farrell names his Irish team for the final match of the 2021 Six Nations

Elliot Daly will start for England against Ireland in the Six Nations on Saturday. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

Head coach makes just one change from the team that saw off France at Twickenham

Matt Proudfoot: “I’m sure they’ll want to close his chapter on the right note. We can expect a highly motivated Irish team really looking to come at us.”  Photograph: Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images

England forwards coach pays tribute to his fellow South African’s impact with Ireland and Munster

England’s Jonny May  in action against France during the Six Nations game at Twickenham. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Gloucester winger happy that his technique will stand up under the high ball

 Jacob Stockdale makes a break for Ulster against Dragons. The Ulster fullback has stormed back from injury, looking closer to his scintillating best more than any time since 2018. Photograph: Ryan Hiscott/Inpho

In the international arena, defence cannot be sacrificed for attacking gifts

 Johnny Sexton played a key role in Ireland’s win over Scotland. Photograph: Inpho

‘We are playing for our jerseys and trying to get on Lions tours, there’s so much at stake’

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has been part of the negotiation process with the seven players whose IRFU central contracts expired this summer. File photograph: PA

Ireland’s progress as a rugby nation has stalled since 2018, we’re now ranked seventh

Rob Herring starts in place of Leinster’s dynamic young hooker Rónan Kelleher. File photograph: Inpho

Some tight calls went the way of Jamison Gibson-Park and Rob Herring

Pone Fa’amausili is led from the pitch during a clash bwetween the Brumbies and the Rebels. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty

Creating teams of referees and ranking them on stats could lead to a healthy competition

Munster head coach Johann van Graan and Joey Carbery in training ahead of Friday night’s Pro14 clash. Photograph: Inpho

For Munster to match expectations, the generational shift may need to be accelerated

The Women’s Rugby World Cup is set to be postponed until 2022 due to the implications of the coronavirus pandemic. Photograph: Andrew Cornaga/Inpho/Photosport

IRFU support decision to delay tournament in New Zealand

Beibhinn Parsons is among Irish rugby’s brightest stars. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Internet trolls abusing Sonja McLaughlin after England loss are ignorant cowards

Ryan Baird and Craig Casey celebrate after Ireland’s win in Rome. Photograph: Matteo Ciambelli/Inpho

Scrumhalf’s commitment and speed of pass could see him usurp Conor Murray soon

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton in action during Saturday’s win in Rome. Photograph: Inpho

Captain Johnny Sexton and head coach Andy Farrell react to Ireland’s win in Rome

Gary Halpin gives a two-fingered salute to the New Zealand fans after Ireland score a try against the All Blacks in the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Former team-mates remember the Ireland prop, including that try against the All Blacks

 Ulster’s Jacob Stockdale will return Pro14 action against   Ospreys. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Stockdale hoping to hit the ground running in order to secure Six Nations place

Iain Henderson: will be hoping to overcome disappointment of defeat to France by helping Ireland to victory in Rome.  Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Momentous times for Ulster lock as he captains Ireland and signs new two-year contract

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton returns to the starting lineup for the Six Nations clash with Italy. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Head coach says he will support his captain whose ‘appetite is as strong as ever’

John McClean helped to create the UCD rugby scholarship scheme in 1997 despite being cut loose by Terenure College in 1996 after admitting to the sexual assault of a boy. File photograph: Inpho

Dan Carter’s legacy? Harry Byrne and NFL comparisons, French Covid-19 mystery

Ireland’s Lynne Cantwell in action in the Women’s  Rugby World Cup Semi-Final against England at Stade Jean-Bouin, Paris, on August 13th, 2014. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Women’s rugby: The parable of a prophet not being accepted in their hometown is apposite

Brothers in arms for the Leinster cause – Ross Byrne and Harry Byrne. Photograph: Inpho

Harry Byrne starts at outhalf, while Ross is set to take the field wearing number 12

Leo Cullen: “For us at Leinster, we have had players who have had to retire from concussion, so it is something on the club’s radar for a number of years.” Photograph:  David Rogers/Getty Images

Leinster hooker Tracy says club world leaders in minimising contact training

Lynne Cantwell has been appointed South African rugby’s first high performance manager for the women’s game. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Springboks believe they have lured a prized asset ahead of this year’s Rugby World Cup

Ross and Harry Byrne start for Leinster against the Dragons. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Pair are expected to share responsibilities at first receiver for trip to Rodney Parade

Ireland Head Coach Andy Farrell with forwards coach Paul O’Connell, defensive coach Simon Easterby and assistant coach Mike Catt during the Six Nations loss to France. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Freddie sticks the boot in to brother Billy; SOS Zebo, word of mouth and more

Iain Henderson captained Ireland in their defeat to France. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Secondrow’s words carry weight as he rues missed chances in narrow Six Nations loss

Dr Cillian De Gascun is a member of Nphet and director of the national virus laboratory. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Q&A: Nphet virologist on the possibility of a Lions tour and concerns over Olympics

Jason Leonard, the Lions chairman, stated this week that a “traditional” tour of South Africa in July remains the primary aim. Photograph: Getty Images

Dr Cillian de Gascun also very cautious about Tokyo Olympics going ahead this year

Rhys Ruddock starts for Ireland this weekend. Photograph: Inpho

Ireland are without Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray, James Ryan and Peter O’Mahony

Dr Barry O’Driscoll   believes the present concussion protocols in rugby union are there for commercial reasons.

‘We are damaging players’ brains again and again’ says former World Rugby medical adviser

 Ireland’s Johnny Sexton receives medical attention against Wales last weekend. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Sexton following return to play protocols after head injury against Wales

Ireland’s Iain Henderson and Wales’ lock Alun Wyn Jones in action at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff. Photograph: Getty Images

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones and head coach Wayne Pivac happy to win ugly

Ireland’s Billy Burns after coming on at the Principality Stadium. Photograph: PA

‘He is trying to get every single last inch out of that ball. He slightly overcooked it’

Ex-England captain John Pullin will be remembered for bravery during the Troubles

 Ireland’s Peter O’Mahony leaves the pitch after receiving a red card. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Ten first half minutes which proved crucial for both Wales and Ireland in Cardiff

Former Lansdowne head coach Mike Ruddock. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Mike Ruddock, father of Rhys and Ciarán, is waiting for the day when families can reunite

James Ryan and Maro Itoje in action during the Six Nations match between England and Ireland at Twickenham last year. Photograph: Getty Images

Secondrow’s lineout calling needs to improve. That’s where Paul O’Connell can help

James Lowe runs with the ball during Ireland training. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Garry Ringrose also returns to the fold with Hugo Keenan at fullback in strong lineup

Joe Schmidt is World Rugby’s newly created “director of rugby and high performance”. File photograph: Getty Images

Josh Adams suspension sends a warning jolt through every Six Nations camp

Maro Itoje of England catches the ball during their Autumn Nations Cup Final against France at Twickenham on December 6th, 2020. Photograph: David Rogers/RFU Collection via Getty Images

With players out due to injury or Covid, Eddie Jones will need the best lock on the planet

Paolo Garbisi attacks for Italy against Ireland in Dublin. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

20-year-old represents Azzurri’s best chance of ending their Championship drought

Paul O’Connell with James Ryan at an Ireland squad session at the   IRFU High Performance Centre, Sport Ireland Campus, Blanchardstown, Dublin. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Former Lions captain is tailor-made for Irish forwards coaching role

The British and Irish Lions are considering an offer by Australia to host the summer series against South Africa. File photograph: Getty images

Bernard Jackman’s criticism of Pro14 referees was not rant, he provided the examples

The French Government have tentatively given the green light for teams to visit France in the Six Nations. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Scotland and Wales are due to travel to Paris with seven-day isolation rule to be waived

The 2021-22 AIL season has been cancelled. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Decision a big blow for amateur game; touch rugby could be offered as an alternative

Tadhg Furlong: has been troubled by a serious calf injury for the last 11 months. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Tighthead prop expected to join up with national squad if he comes through game unscathed

Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster believes the Pro14 will have a Plan B if the Rainbow Cup does not go ahead. Photograph: Inpho

Rainbow Cup was set to see South African sides face Pro14 teams in new competition

Should Andy Farrell bring Ben Healy into the Ireland fold? Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Six Nations could be a Covid timebomb; The Offload’s Ireland XV to take on Wales

Ronan O’Gara is a big fan of Munster outhalf Jack Crowley and tried to sign him for La Rochelle. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Tackling concussion . . . Zebo clear on Folau’s possible return to union . . . Word of mouth

Former Dublin goalkeeper John Leonard now lives in rural New Zealand. Photo: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Iconic sports books revisited: John Leonard on his story Dub Sub Confidential

Dublin’s Con O’Callaghan celebrates the victory over Mayo in December’s All-Ireland final at Croke Park. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

‘He fostered a relationship with a lot of lads where there was compassion and care’

Limerick hurler Gearóid Hegarty with his PwC GAA/GPA Player of the Month award at Ballybunion Beach in Co Kerry. Photograph: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

The PwC Player of the Month on tweeting and his man-of-the-match turn for Limerick

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