Brian O’Driscoll and his teammates celebrate Ireland’s 2009 Grand Slam win. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Cardiff win was 61 years in the making and proved the breakthrough for Irish rugby

Fran Cotton in the foreground of a mud covered British Lions lineout along with Moss Keane (second left), Phil Orr (centre) and Jeff Squire (arms out) against New Zealand Juniors at the Athletic Park in Wellington in July 1977. Photograph: Adrian Murrell/Allsport/Getty Images/Hulton Archive

Aligning the international Test calendar could come at a cost to the game on many levels

Jack O’Donoghue during Munster’s training session at UL on Friday. Photograph: Inpho

Versatile Munster backrow is desperate to add to his two Ireland caps in the coming years

Rugby Players Ireland chief executive Simon Keogh held a third round of discussions with IRFU chief executive Philip Browne on Wednesday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Rugby Players Ireland set to meet with IRFU again next week in bid to strike a deal

Ian Flanagan has faced a number of challenges already in his role as Munster CEO. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

New CEO says province would be opposed to summer rugby global calendar may bring

Daniel Brennan has played for France at under-20 level. Photo: Inpho

Son of former Irish player Trevor won Under-20 World Cup with France two years ago

Ian Flanagan (right) with Leinster CEO Mick Dawson. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Ian Flanagan also says the province and Irish rugby can learn from James Cronin case

Garry Ringrose last featured in Ireland’s Six Nations win over Scotland in February. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

Province confirm James Lowe has returned to New Zealand for personal reasons

Rob Kearney has been given a short-term contract extension at Leinster. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Fergus McFadden and Rob Kearney have been given short-term contract extensions

Joey Carbery is expected to return to action for Munster in September. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Munster and Leinster return to training after squads pass Covid-19 tests

Irish players are entitled to question their 20 per cent pay cuts. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

The players are entitled to question the 20% pay cuts that are proposed for them

Connacht players celebrate after their win against Gloucester at the Sportsground, Galway on December 14th, 2019. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Conference tables as they stood before lockdown will be cut-off point for qualification

James Coughlan has joined Brive in the Top14. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Former Munster number 8 has previously coached in France at Pau and Aix

With the current 2m social distancing rule the Aviva Stadium would hold only 8,200 fans. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho

If social distancing protocol was changed to one metre, limited crowds would be viable

Leinster players will return to training next Monday. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Provinces due to return to training next Monday with Connacht and Ulster a week later

Reports emerged over the weekend that the IRFU are looking for a 20 per cent pay cut among players. Photo: Gary Carr/Inpho

Workload cannot be reduced for players in already short, highly attritional careers

Ireland’s Six Nations match with Italy still has to be played. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Decision will include when the four postponed Six Nations matches will go ahead

The IRFU are looking for a 20 per cent cut to salaries after non-playing staff agreed to move to a four-day week. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Pay deferral scheme expected to cease on June 30th as it is not deemed sustainable

Garry Ringrose: “It was some year [2018] for a lot of us. It’s what you aim for every year, but as I learned pretty quickly the following year it doesn’t always shape out that way.”  Photograph: Lazslo Geczo/Inpho

Current hiatus making Ireland and Leinster centre even more appreciative

Dan Carter in action for Kobe Steelers in January. The 38-year-old is reported to be poised to sign for the Auckland Blues on a short-term replacement contract. Photograph: Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images

All Blacks legend could sign up as a short-term replacement for Aotearoa competition

Conor Dean is one of six academy players moved to full contracts at Connacht. Photograph: Tom O’Hanlon/Inpho

Head coach Andy Friend outlines qualities of incoming group of players

 Bordeaux-Begles’  Jean-Baptiste Dubie dives in to score  a try during the  Top 14  match against Clermont Auvergne at the Chaban-Delmas stadium in Bordeaux. Photograph:   Nicolas Tucat/AFP via Getty Images

Six French clubs still involved at quarter-final stages of the two competitions

Munster have confirmed that new signing Damian de Allende has completed his self-isolation in Ireland. Photograph:   Billy Stickland/Inpho

Province confirms departures and arrivals after completing remote training programme

Isa Nacewa and Jordi Murphy lift the European Champions Cup trophy for Leinster in 2018, continuing a remarkable run of success for the Irish province. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Financial repercussions likely to hit more than for teams backed by wealthy owners

Tullamore and Bangor in action last February during an AIL match. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Clubs could conceivably return to training in small groups from next Monday, June 8th

Action from a Women’s AIL Division One game between Old Belvedere and Galwegians at Anglesea Road in Dublin. Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Inpho

Never before has rugby seemed so two-tiered with clubs at the back of the queue to return

 Ireland coach Andy Farrell: ‘Players want information. They want feedback, they want to know the plan going forward together.’ Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Monday reviews like ‘therapy for players’, Ireland coach tells webinar for Pieta House

Ireland fans Emma Geraty and Ashling Davy from Dublin in Rome for the Italy Six Nations game in 2019. Photograph:  James Crombie/Inpho

Six Nations need only look at the Rugby Championship as a cautionary tale

It looks like it will be quite a while before we see scenes like this again. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Sport wants to maintain place in public sphere as well as generating crucial income

Leinster could face Munster in a Pro 14 game at the Aviva Stadium on the first weekend of rugby’s proposed resumption in August. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Chief executive outlines stark challenges facing Irish game if rugby fails to return this year

IRFU chief executive  Philip Browne has warned of the dire consequences  if there is no return to play before the end of the year. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

IRFU chief says cash reserves are likely to be exhausted within a matter of months

Ireland’s Victor Costello in action during the Peace International against the Barbarians at Lansdowne road in May 1996. Photograph:    Clive Mason/Allsport

After Canary Wharf bombing, Hugo MacNeill and Trevor Ringland decided to make a stand

Competition organisers introduce measure to allow players move between clubs

 Damian de Allende: Munster’s new South African international signing has already arrived and completed his 14-day self-isolation period in Limerick. Photograph:  Cameron Spencer/Getty

Munster's de Allende and Snyman could play a part in any finale to 2019-20 season

Robin Copeland is to leave Connacht for French ProD2 club Soyaux Angoulême XV Charente on a three-year deal. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Number eight has signed three-year deal with ProD2 side Soyaux Angoulême XV Charente

Munster’s Kenyon Knox celebrates winning a penalty against Connacht during the Pro14 clash at the  Sportsground last December. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Officials might stop trend of over-the-top celebrations and goading of the opposition

There were reports over the weekend of plans for a tournament between Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales only. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Reports over the weekend suggested plans were being made without France and Italy

James Ryan is looking forward to being back on a rugby field. Photograph: Inpho

It’s also allowed him to catch up with his studies in History and Politics at UCD

Ian McKinley (right) singing the Italian national anthem ahead of the Six Nations game against Wales in Rome in 2019. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Role of his wife and family key in helping outhalf return from losing the sight in one eye

The statement also said that the organisers remain committed to completing this season’s Champions Cup and Challenge Cup. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Expanded competition could actually see fewer match weekends in congested calendar

 Morne Du Plessis leads out his team against the British Lions in 1980 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Photograph: Getty Images

The IRFU’s role in the sport’s dealings with with South Africa is not one to be proud of

Munster’s James Cronin: As a professional rugby player, he should have been more quizzical about what he was taking. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Munster player was not culpable, but fallout from the case means it won’t go away soon

Connacht team-members training at the   Sportsground, Galway, in January. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Union hopes to outline clearer scenario in early June based on Government guidelines

 Kurtley Beale: the 92-times capped Australian  utility back  will arrive to join Racing in  July.  Photograph: Mark Evans/AFP/Getty

Versatile Australian’s arrival will add significantly to French club’s options

Ronan O’Gara scores a try in the 2000 Heineken Cup semi-final. Photograph: Inpho

Munster truly announced themselves as a force in European rugby by beating Toulouse

Dr Éanna Falvey: ‘In countries like New Zealand and Australia, they are probably reasonably close in getting back into competition, and certainly into training.’ Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

World Rugby’s chief medical officer on what it will take to get the sport back on track

Aviva Stadium head groundsman Majella Smyth vuts the grass at the stadium on Tuesday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Professional rugby could remain behind closed doors until a vaccine is widely available

Aviva Stadium head groundsman Majella Smyth vuts the grass at the stadium on Tuesday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

World Rugby says wearing of masks and gloves at training not deemed essential

Leinster’s Isa Nacewa gets past Ronan O’Gara Doug Howlett and Keith Earls of Munster during the 2009 Heineken Cup semi-final at Croke Park. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Nine of Ireland’s 10 most capped players ever were in the starting line-ups at a packed Croke Park

 Ireland’s Conor Murray in action against Scotland in the Six Nations Championship in February. Photograph:  Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ireland scrumhalf is missing training with the lads and eyes fourth World Cup campaign

Toulouse may miss out on next season’s Champions Cup. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

France halts major sports until September, leaving little window to resume competitions

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont is seeking a second term, going against challenger  Agustín Pichot. Photograph: Jason O’Brien/Getty Images

Whoever wins the vote for chairman of World Rugby, difficult choices loom ahead

Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster has been keeping busy in Leeds during the Covid-19 pandemic. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Coach confident that Johnny Sexton and other players in their 30s will benefit in the future

 Stuart Lancaster has kept busy through the Covid-19 pandemic, working with Leinster’s players from his home in Leeds. Photograph:    David Rogers/Getty Images

‘You are not just going to flick a switch and start training and playing as you did’

Tadhg Furlong in action against Scotland during the Six Nations game against Scotland at the Aviva Stadium on February 1st. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Leinster and Ireland prop is keeping busy getting back to basics in Wexford

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont is being challenged by  vice-chairman Agustín Pichot in Sunday’s vote. Photograph:  Dave Rogers/World Rugby via Getty Images

Agustín Pichot’s challenge hampered by a weighted voting system that he has called unfair

Rob Kearney may well have played his final game for Leinster. File photograph: Inpho

Players departing and arriving at end of the season creates conundrums for provinces

Leinster team doctor John Ryan with coach Stuart Lancaster. File photograph: Inpho

Head coach hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a month-long, isolation training camp

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen spent an hour on a conference call with journalists on Monday. File Photograph: Inpho

Leinster head coach tells reporters - ‘you know as much as I do at this point in time’

The French team face up to New Zealand as the latter perform the Haka before the dramatic World Cup quarter-final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

I’ve never ever come across such shocked and crestfallen players as those All Blacks

Andy Friend camping out his back garden.

Australian is enjoying a change of pace and embracing life in the wild west of Galway

Munster’s Joey Carbery is tackled by Andrew Porter of Leinster during the Guinness Pro 14 game at  Thomond Park last December. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Ideal eight-week schedule would initially see derbies being played behind closed doors

Saracens celebrate their victory over Leinster in the 2018-19 Heineken  Cup Final at St James’ Park in Newcastle. Photograph: Andrew Fosker/Inpho

Format unlikely to change until after 2021-22 season due to present deals in place

Leinster were due to meet Munster at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Unbeaten province had lucrative dates lined up with Munster and Saracens

“I would expect when we can get back up and playing, it’s more than likely he’s going to be available at that time.”

Leinster hope to be back in training in the middle of May, Jack Conan fully fit again

Bernard Laporte recently put forward plans for a 20-team club world cup. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

There are 55 Test matches involving Tier 1 nations still to be completed in 2020

Rob Kearney and Jonathan Sexton celebrate winning the Grand Slam after the win over England at Twickenham on St Patrick’s Day in 2017. Photograph:  Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland and Leinster fullback has no interest in hanging up his boots just yet

Ireland players might see little or no action with their provinces when rugby returns. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland could play seven Test matches in a short time span when rugby starts again

The Pro 14 has deals with nine different broadcasters, including Eir Sport, TG4 and Premier Sport, which is believed to bring in €15-20 million of revenue. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Bernard Laporte tells French clubs rugby might not return to normal until January 2021

CJ Stander wins a penalty for Ireland in their Six Nations win over Wales. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

When the game returns it will look different with World Rugby re-enforcing laws in July

French Rugby Federation president Bernard Laporte: The Club World Cup could see Sharks v Sale Sharks, and Chiefs v Exeter Chiefs. Photograph: Gabriel Bouys/AFP via Getty Images

Champions Cup organisers confirm talks have been held over a quadrennial event

Simon Zebo pictured with son Jacob and daughter Sofia. Photograph courtesy of Simon Zebo

Former Munster star has zero regrets with his decision to switch his life and rugby to Paris

Ireland’s Charlie Ryan celebrates at the full-time whistle of the Under-20 Six Nations match against France at Musgrave Park. Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Inpho

IRFU head of elite development Peter Smyth believes few, if any, will fall through the net

Garry Ringrose has signed a  new two-year central contract that will keep the talented centre with Leinster until the end of the 2021-22 season at least. Photograph: Tom Honan

Silky centre to stay with Leinster until end of 2021-22 season at least

Four Six Nations games remain to be played in the 2020 tournament. Photograph: Andrew Fosker/Inpho

Financial assistance packages and plans for Tests and major competitions top the list

Wales’ Ross Moriarty high ackles Gael Fickou of France.  The prospect of less concussions  due to safer waist-high tackling and no double hits, leading to more offloads and opportunities for the attacking team, is  exciting. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Trials show lowering legal tackle height armpit to waist helps reduce injuries like concussion

Ireland are scheduled to play two Tests in Australia this summer. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Completing European competition is unlikely but hope for Top 14 and Premiership

Ian McKinley: “For me personally I try not to look at the news too much, because I think you can just get bogged down if you watch the news all day.” Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Under lockdown in Treviso, the Benetton and Italy outhalf is getting used to the new normal

 Jack Carty  is encouraging people to avoid trolling or scaremongering on social media. Tackle Your Feelings campaign  is funded by the Z Zurich Foundation. Photograph: INPHO/James Crombie

On defeat in Japan: ‘I did use the Tackle Your Feelings app just as a mental check-in’  

The loss of the Italy Six Nations game at the Aviva stadium  cost the IRFU up to €4 million in revenues. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

‘If we get to September and there’s still no clear line of sight well then we’ve got a problem’

The 2020 Marseille finals were due to be played in May. Photograph: Getty Images

No rescheduled dates confirmed but organisers intend on finishing competition

A Covid-19 public information leaflet at Tullamore Rugby Club in Offaly. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Fears that some clubs might never recover from lack of activity during coronavirus outbreak

For the likes of Fergus McFadden (left) and Rob Kearney, whose contracts expire at the end of this season, it is not a good time to be seeking jobs inside or outside the game. Photograph:  Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Rugby agent Woods outlines the risk of salary cuts and job losses affecting the game

The IRFU has announced pay deferrals ranging from 10 to 50%. Photograph: Inpho

Equitable sliding scale will be used for all international and provincial players

World Rugby also announce a number of postponements to Sevens events

A recent clash between Tullamore and Bangor which was played in horrendous conditions. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Statement said that seasons will be concluded with no promotion or relegation

The Pro 14 Final at Cardiff City Stadium has been cancelled. Photograph:   Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Pro 14 final in Cardiff is cancelled as season suspended indefinitely; IRFU end domestic amateur season

Six Nations 19/3/2000 France vs IrelandBrian O'Driscoll is surrounded by teamates�INPHO/Billy Stickland

Rob Henderson speaks to Gerry Thornley about an unforgettable Paris afternoon

A Scotland fan  outside a deserted Principality Stadium in Cardiff after the Six Nations game between Wales and Scotland was postponed. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

It might be preferable to complete the 2019-20 season regardless of when it ends

Leinster’s Champions Cup quarter-final against Saracens at the Aviva stadium has been postponed. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Summer tours may be axed to allow for European and domestic seasons to be completed

Leinster will be the province to be hit the hardest should the run in to the season be hit by games  held behind closed doors or not at all. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Postponed game against Italy cost rugby governing body an estimated loss of €3m in gate receipts

The Welsh Rugby Union had indicated on Friday  morning that the Six Nations game against Scotland would go ahead, but were later compelled to alter that stance when calling off the match at 24 hours’ notice.   Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Along with much of world sport, rugby will be put on hold until coronavirus crisis has passed

England’s Joe Marler has been banned for 10 weeks. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

His England team mate Manu Tuilagi banned for four weeks for dangerous tackle

Mohammed Haouas of France punching Jamie Ritchie of Scotland during their   Six Nations match at Murrayfield, Edinburgh. Photograph:   David Rogers/Getty Images

Scotland end French hopes of a first Grand Slam in a decade with a 28-17 win at Murrayfield

Eddie Jones and Owen Farrell ahead of England’s clash with Wales at Twickenham on Saturday. Photograph: Andrew Couldridge/Reuters

FFR confirm Paris clash will go ahead as tournament picks up again at Twickenham

Johnny Sexton celebrates after landing the winning drop goal against France at Stade de France in 2018. Photograph:  James Crombie/Inpho

Game on March 14th is likely to be postponed if France progress to stage three of strategy

England’s Six Nations meeting with Italy in Rome will be rescheduled. Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Match to be rearranged as Italians reluctant to play lucrative clash behind closed doors

France and England in action at Stade de France. Doubt persists as to whether Ireland will play their French hosts at the venue on Saturday week.  Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

For now, France-Ireland game set to be played as scheduled at Stade de France

 Alan Tait of Leeds is tackled by Shaun Edwards and Andy Farrell of Wigan during the 1995 Division One Premiership final at Old Trafford in Manchester, England. Photograph:  Ben Radford/Allsport

Ireland coach can see the influence of his former team-mate in France’s recent successes

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