New Zealand’s Richie Mo’unga  and teamates take part in a training session in Koto on Tuesday. Photograph: Getty Images

No team has rattled the All Blacks’ cage throughout the years quite like the Springboks

Ireland’s Bundee Aki in  action against Wales at the Aviva Stadium on September 7th. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

The notion that a player’s birthplace should influence World Cup selection is plain daft

Rob Kearney at Ireland training ahead of the opening Rugby World Cup matches against Scotland. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland management are hopeful full-back will be back running later this week

Ireland’s Rob Kearney scores a try against Wales. The fullback is expected to miss the match against Scotland with a hamstring injury. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ireland’s resources stretched for Scotland tie with question marks over Earls’ fitness also

Ireland’s Tadhg Beirne: ‘I think I’ve definitely improved over the course of the last few weeks.’ Photograph:  Billy Stickland/Inpho

Secondrow adapting to Ireland system after turning down chance to represent Wales

 Rob Kearney scores a try during against Wales in the final World Cup warm-up earlier this month. Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Ireland fullback understood to have picked up calf injury in training

Andrew Porter with a photograph of his late mum, Wendy, who died when he was just starting secondary school. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland and Leinster prop ready to operate on both sides of the scrum in Japan

Ireland’s Bundee Aki in training in Tokyo. The centre has started 20 of the team’s last 24 matches. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland’s midfield rock ignores naysayers and is in prime nick for World Cup

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, scrum coach Greg Feek and defence coach Andy Farrell at a training session in Ichihara Suporeku Park, Tokyo. Photograph: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Joe Schmidt is taking nothing for granted ahead of Pool A game against Scotland

Irish head coach Joe Schmidt speaks to scrum half Conor Murray during a training session at  Ichihara Suporeku Park in Tokyo. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho.

Head coach says his side has been ‘less consistent this year’ but its major targets are yet to come

Ireland’s Josh van der Flier against Wales at the Aviva Stadium in their World Cup warm-up. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Saturday’s win provided most compelling proof yet that Ireland are on course to peak in two weeks

Ireland’s Josh van der Flier at the Guinness Series pre-World Cup friendly against Wales at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ireland coach focused on ‘getting the very best out of those 31 men’ at Rugby World Cup

Ireland’s Rory Best leaves the field to a thunderous ovation after the game against Wales in the Aviva Stadium on Saturday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Applause for Rory Best and Joe Schmidt’s last home game felt even sweeter with a win

 Tadhg Furlong scores his side’s second try. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Ireland mark Joe Schmidt’s final game in Dublin with nine-point win

 Joe Schmidt:  “I think the great days have been the ones where the players have done something a little bit special, and you’ve seen players grow.”

Today marks the end of an era with the Kiwi's last home game in charge of Ireland

Garry Ringrose at the Ireland Rugby Captain’s Run in the Aviva Stadium on Friday. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Johnny Sexton returns on landmark day for captain Rory Best and manager Joe Schmidt

Defence coach Andy Farrell says the final World Cup warm-up against Wales is a ‘massive match’. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Incoming head coach expects final World Cup warm-up to be a ‘proper Test match’

Ireland’s Jacob Stockdale intercepts the ball to score his second against Wales at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA Wire

Winger grateful Schmidt gave him chance to ‘put a few wrongs right’ against Wales

Johnny Sexton during training at Carton House, Kildare, ahead of Ireland’s final Test match against Wales. Photograph:  Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Both Ireland and Wales expected to unveil full-strength sides for last Test match

Agustin Pichot: “If I was Devin Toner . . . I will be asking WR for answers. I feel sorry for him; nothing against  who was properly selected for the RWC19 by the way. But feel that way.” Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

‘I think he has a number of big opinions, but they’re not ones that are relevant for us’

James Ryan and Andrew Porter: featured against Japan during Ireland’s  summer tour of 2017. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Coach stresses the need for versatility given the challenging conditions in Japan

Scrumhalf Conor Murray, who will compete in his third World Cup tournament, during training at Carton House, Co Kildare. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Scrumhalf believes heavy warm-up defeat to England was just a blip

Ireland’s coach Joe Schmidt: ‘I think there’s always doubt in your mind when you first start a Rugby World Cup build-up.’ Photograph: Adam Davy/PA Wire

Selection process marked by tough calls and difficult conundrums, says Ireland coach

Ireland fullback Will Addison looked as if he could offer the team something different in the match against Wales. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Leaving out Leinster lock something of a gamble given Ireland’s recent lineout struggles

Joe Schmidt: “I’ve coached Dev for 10 years and he’s not just a lineout champion for us, he’s such a good player but he’s also an absolutely quality person.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland coach has finalised his 31-man Rugby World Cup squad

Devin Toner has been left out of Ireland’s Rugby World Cup squad. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

IRFU confirm Joe Schmidt has omitted lock with Addison, Murphy and Marmion also cut

Ireland centre Bundee Aki makes a break during the International match between Wales and Ireland at Principality Stadium  in Cardiff on Saturday. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Solid performance in Cardiff has restored Ireland’s feel-good factor – almost

Ireland’s Jack Conan, Jack Carty and Niall Scannell tackle Owen Watkin of Wales in the Principality Stadium, Cardiff at the weekend. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Head coach dreading prospect of informing players not selected for the World Cup outfit

Ireland outhalf Jack Carty sets up the attack for the game’s first try during Ireland’s 22-17 win over Wales   in Cardiff. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Player ‘delighted’ to be named Man of the Match on his 27th birthday

Devin Toner tackles Jake Ball in Cardiff - Ireland are hopeful he will avoid a citing for a later incident with Rob Evans. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Secondrow facing a nervous wait after clash with Rob Evans near end of Cardiff victory

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt: “I think it’s a horrible couple of days. It’s probably the worst couple of days I’ve had in coaching, this time four years ago.” Photograph:  Adam Davy/PA Wire.

Ireland coach has to cut his Rugby World Cup squad from 41 to 31 on Monday

Jacob Stockdale celebrates his first try against Wales. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Joe Schmidt’s side withstand late rally to defeat Wales in Cardiff warm-up

Ireland’s Sean Cronin in action with Canada’s Lucas Rumball at the Aviva in 2016. Cronin’s impact off the bench as a ball-carrier gives him an X-factor which none of the other Irish hookers possess. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Selection for Wales clash suggests a few places in Ireland’s squad remain up for grabs

Peter O’Mahony talks during the Ireland Captain’s Run at  Carton House on Friday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

It’s Wales’s last home game before Japan, and Ireland’s shot at some redemption

James Ryan during an Ireland squad session at Carton House. The Leinster man returns to the Ireland starting XV for the visit to Wales. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Cardiff offers final chance to make an impression before 31--man World Cup squad is finalised

Will Addison is in line to play fullback in the World Cup warm-up against Wales in cardiff on Sunday. Photograph:  Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Will Addison and Jack Carty set for starts in Cardiff in a much-changed side

Brian O’Driscoll: “I think it can be fixed, because I know the personnel.” Photograph:  Lorraine O’Sullivan/Getty Images

Ex-captain confident Schmidt and his former team-mates can arrest alarming slide

Rory Best:  needs a big game over one of the next two Saturdays against Wales after his  struggles at Twickenham. Photograph:  David Rogers/RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images

Twickenham debacle a serious wake-up call for coaching team and players alike

Munster senior coach Stephen Larkham at training on Monday. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

New Australian coach says he is looking forward to the challenge of new environment

Ireland’s Andrew Conway checks on an injured Joey Carbery during the World Cup warm-up match against Italy. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Outhalf is recuperating from an operation on the ankle he injured in win over Italy

Munster senior coach Stephen Larkham during a training session on Monday. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

World Cup winning outhalf says move to Northern Hemisphere has broadened horizons

Ireland win a lineout against England during their defeat at Twickenham Stadium. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

Iain Henderson insists Ireland can bounce back from heavy defeat to England

Joe Schmidt: “Look, I’ve been coaching professionally for 17 years, I’ve had these days.” Photograph: Matthew Childs/Reuters

Captain Best and others under real pressure following Twickenham horror show

England’s Joe Cokasaniga scores his side’s first try of the game against Ireland during the World Cup warm-up clash at Twickenham, London. Photograph: David Davies/PA

Much for Schmidt to ponder after a humiliating and potentially damaging outing

Ross Byrne and Garry Ringrose leave the pitch after Ireland’s defeat to England. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Irish coach says his side were underdone as they fell to a record defeat at Twickenham

Joe Cokanasiga (L) and Tom Curry celebrate with Manu Tuilagi after the centre’s try against Ireland. Photograph: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty

Joe Schmidt’s side fall to record defeat as hosts emphasise their RWC credentials

Ireland Rugby Captain’s Run at Twickenham Stadium on Friday. ‘We’ll be hoping to get out of the game free of injury and I know that Eddie [Jones] will be hoping the same thing with the English lads,’ said head coach Joe Schmidt. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

It may be only a warm-up, but it’s still England v Ireland, and that’s a red-hot prospect

Joey Carbery: he  had been earmarked for this World Cup in part because he also covered full-back and at a push the role of third choice scrum-half

Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton not at heights of 2018 but are primed for World Cup tilt

Joe Schmidt: “We’re going to have to be cleaner than clean.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

‘There’s always things that concern, and injury is one and suspension is the other’

Jack Carty: named among the replacements against England at Twickenham. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Outhalves vying for a place in squad for Japan while Kleyn gets another chance to impress

Ireland’s Garry Ringrose, Ross Byrne and Josh van der Flier after Ireland’s victory over Italy in Chicago last November. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Flanker praises Ireland outhalf’s ‘steady head’ and ability to control the game

Jack Carty and Ross Byrne during an Ireland training session in Portugal. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Joe Schmidt’s team take on England in their second Rugby World Cup warm-up match

CJ Stander taking part in the Ireland squad session at the  The Campus, Faro. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Munster man and his Ireland team-mates braced for a big and bruising England

Ireland’s Ross Byrne during training at the pre-World Cup camp in Portugal. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Gerry Thornley’s probable team: Schmidt is expected to make a number of changes

Jack Carty: “He’s trained well this week, trained very well today, so we’ve got faith in Jack,” said Ireland kicking and skills coach Richie  Murphy. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

‘In some ways it’s come out of Joey’s control in relation to staking a claim for his place in the squad’

Conor Murray at Ireland Rugby squad training at the Campus, Faro, Portugal on Tuesday.  Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

‘It’s a massive game that could get away from you if you’re not up for it physically’

Jacob Stockdale at the Ireland press conference at   The Campus in  Faro, Portugal. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ulster winger’s second Test cap came against Japan on a boiling hot day in Tokyo

Jack Carty could make his first start in an Ireland shirt in the World Cup warm-up game against England at Twickenham on Saturday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Johnny Sexton’s anticipated return to action delayed after he sits out training session

All Blacks’ Sevu Reece celebrates his try with Beauden Barrett in the 2019 Investec Rugby Championship at Eden Park, Auckland on Saturday. Photograph: Marty Melville/Inpho/Photosport

All Blacks were on a highway to hell, but their World Cup outlook is now a whole lotta rosy

Ireland’s Bundee Aki and Rory Best during training at The Campus, Faro, Portugal, where they the squad have been since last Wednesday. Photograph:  Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Squad training in similar temperatures but replicating Japan’s humidity is impossible

 Ireland’s Joey Carbery damaged ankle ligaments during last weekend’s World Cup warm-up against Italy. Photograph: Russell Cheyne/Reuters

Ireland and Munster outhalf facing race against time to be fit for Japan

Reece Hodge of Australia celebrates his try during the 2019 Rugby Championship test match between Australia and  New Zealand last Saturday. Photograph:  James Worsfold/Getty Images

Losing to Australia will give All Blacks a jolt, but will it be enough to keep them on top?

 Ireland outhalf Joey Carbery reacts as he is taken off the field injured during the  match against  Italy at the Aviva stadium. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Ireland are due to travel to Portugal for Rugby World Cup training camp on Wednesday

 Ireland will field a much-changed side from last Saturday’s starting XV for their 29-10 win over Italy, for their next warm-up game against England at Twickenham on Saturday week, says head coach Joe Schmidt. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

More players to be pruned from 43-man squad prior to training camp in Portugal

Joey Carbery   receives medical attention prior to being taken off during the Guinness Summer Series match between Ireland and Italy at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday. Photograph:  Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Outhalf was the star turn for 49 minutes, but concern now is his wellbeing for World Cup

 Ireland’s Joey Carbery is helped from the pitch after sustaining an injury. Photograph: Russell Cheyne/Reuters

Outhalf a concern for World Cup after suffering injury at the Aviva Stadium

Michael Kiernan celebrates the drop goal that sealed victory over England and a Triple Crown for Ireland in 1985. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Michael Kiernan recalls Ireland’s preparation for the inaugural 1987 competition, an event the IRFU didn't want to enter

Joey Carbery during the captain’s run at the Aviva Stadium ahead of Ireland’s first World Cup warm-up match against Italy. Photograph:  Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Task of narrowing down squad will be ‘really difficult’, says incoming Ireland head coach

Jean Kleyn: after becoming eligible on the three-year residency ruling, the Munster lock  will make his  Ireland debut against Italy.     Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Warm-up clash against Italy a chance to press their case for a place in 31-man squad

Ireland’s James Ryan (23) has become the youngest recipient of the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Men’s Player of the Year award. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Joe Schmidt wins Tom Rooney award while Ciara Griffin named Women’s Player of Year

 Tommy O’Donnell during training at Carton House, Kildare, ahead of Ireland’s first warm-up game against Italy. Photograph:  Billy Stickland/Inpho

Injury-prone player grateful to be given chance to impress in World Cup warm-ups

Greg Feek: “A lot of the guys have had bloody noses. They’ve had some good days and they’ve had some bad days and that’s important for the World Cup as well.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Versatility could help press the case of the likes of Ryan, Porter and Bealham

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has returned to New Zealand after a family bereavment. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Ireland manager has left training camp as squad prepare for first warm-up match

Ireland’s Paul O’Connell leaves the pitch after the World Cup warm-up match against England at Twickenham four years ago. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

If Ireland can swerve injuries, pre-tournament fixtures will have served a purpose

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt shares a joke with his training squad during an open training session at Thomond Park. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

In what seems like death by a thousand cuts, Dillane and Scannell are the first to go

 Johnny Sexton claps England’s Owen Farrell off the pitch following the home defeat in the Six Nations which inflicted significant psychological damage on Ireland. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Six Nations left Ireland with plenty to ponder as they prepare for their warm-up games

Munster’s Joey Carbery exchanges words with Leinster’s  Johnny Sexton during a  Guinness Pro14 game at  Thomond Park in December 2018. Photograph:   Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Former Ireland winger sees Joey Carbery as the perfect second playmaker in Japan

Ronan O’Gara  pictured at the launch of Energia’s new rugby communication campaign The Power Behind Positive Energy. Photograph:  Billy Stickland/Inpho

Former Ireland outhalf looks back on the mistakes made in 2011 and 2003

Ronan O’Gara is returning to the Top 14. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Former Ireland outhalf is now La Rochelle head coach after spell with Crusaders

MU Barnhall RFC will host a 50th anniversary gala dinner on Saturday, June 22nd.

Joe Schmidt and Trevor Brennan will be on hand at 50th anniversary gala dinner

Ireland’s Jacob Stockdale scores a try despite Damian McKenzie and Aaron Smith of New Zealand during the Guinness November Series win over the All Blacks. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Rugby correspondent runs the rule over the season for Ireland and the four provinces

Munster’s Jean Kleyn tackles Leinster’s Seán Cronin during the Guinness Pro 14 semi-final at the  RDS. Photograph:  Dan Sheridan/Inpho

The inclusion of uncapped Munster duo Kleyn and Haley the most eye-catching

Leinster’s Seán O’Brien in action against Toulouse during the  Heineken Champions Cup semi-final  at the Aviva Stadium. An O’Brien tide lifted all boats. The best captain Ireland never had? Photograph: Inpho

Ireland have been dealt a significant blow in losing Tullow Tank in addition to Dan Leavy

Rob Kearney celebrates Leinster’s Guinness Pro 14 with   James Lowe and brother  Dave after the victory over Glasgow Warriors at Celtic Park. Photograph:  Billy Stickland/Inpho

Full back was looking for two-year contract during negotiations

England’s Owen Farrell tackles South Africa’s Andre Esterhuizen during the Autumn International match at Twickenham. Photograph:  Adam Davy/PA Wire

Framework allows less leeway for referees to make judgment calls

Leinster’s Sean O’Brien lifts the Pro14 trophy after beating Glasgow at Celtic Park, Glasgow. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Champions use all their finals experience in a far from perfect display in Glasgow

Leinster’s Sean O’Brien with the Guinness Pro14 trophy after the final victory over Glasgow Warriors at  Celtic Park, Glasgow. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Another hip operation set to bring down the curtain on the flanker’s international career

Leinster’s James Lowe and Jack Conan celebrate after beating Glasgow in the Pro14 final. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Loss to Saracens in Champions Cup threatened to derail remainder of season

Leinster’s Sean O’Brien celebrates with the Pro14 trophy. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

‘He’s one of the best players I’ve ever played with. As a forward, I’d say he’s the best’

Seán O’Brien lifts the Guinness Pro 14 trophy after Leinster’s victory over Glasgow Warriors at Celtic Park. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Leo Cullen’s side take sixth title in front of record final attendance at Celtic Park

Leo Cullen with Glasgow head coach Dave Rennie at Celtic Park, Glasgow. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Ex-Waikato Chiefs head coach has overseen a marked improvement in Scottish club

Josh Van Der Flier at the Leinster Rugby captain’s run in Celtic Park, Glasgow on Friday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Scene is set at Celtic Park for historic final between high-calibre attacking sides

Leinster’s  Tadhg Furlong reacts as he scores the first try during the Champions Cup final  between Leinster and Saracens at St James’ Park  in Newcastle. Photograph:   Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images

John Hayes and Mike Ross were as durable as tree trunks, and Furlong is showing same signs

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen talks to his Glasgow counterpart  Dave Rennie at the Leinster  Captain’s Run at Celtic Park ahead of  Saturday’s Guinness Pro 14 final. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Leinster coach had suggested Glasgow Warriors had Rangers fans in their ranks

The Ireland team before their Six Nations defeat to Wales at Principality Stadium, Cardiff. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

IRFU performance director says outgoing coach Schmidt very focused on final task

Ireland Sevens celebrate  winning the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series qualifier final, Hong Kong Stadium  in April. Photograph: INPHO/Yu Chun Christopher Wong

Basic salary of €18,000 ‘equivalent of a development contract’ says IRFU

Munster head coach Johann van Graan after the defeat to Leinster in  their Pro 14 semi-final at the  RDS. He  has a point when highlighting that Munster won three more games in the Pro 14 this season than last. Photograph:  Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

The deeper a team goes in a tournament, the more acute the disappointment of defeat

Leinster’s Leo Cullen with Glasgow coach Dave Rennie. “He’s a good man, Leo, I like him,” said Rennie. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Leinster boss said Celtic fans should turn out to support province in Glasgow Pro 14 final

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen: ‘I would say we don’t get all the selections right, but we try to get them right.’ Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

As Leinster face Glasgow, manager shrugs off criticism of his player selection decisions

Leinster’s James Lowe evades Munster’s Mike Haley on his way to scoring a try in the  Guinness Pro14 semi-final  at the RDS, Dublin on Saturday. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Groundhog day for Van Graan’s men as Leinster show their ability to go up a gear

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