Munster’s Niall Scannell takes on Edinburgh’s WP Nel during the Heineken Champions Cup quarter final at Murrayfield. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Hooker says province must trust in work they have done to get over the line against Saracens

Billy Vunipola of Saracens breaks with the ball during the Champions Cup semi -final win over Munster  at the Aviva Stadium in  2017 in Dublin. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Province have lost six of seven in which they failed to score first try and were trailing at half-time

Ulster tighthead prop Marty Moore has been ruled out for the rest of the season. Photograph: Craig Watson/Inpho

Jacob Stockdale sustained a hamstring injury in the same game against Edinburgh

Tyler Bleyendaal: “He is a great man, a very good rugby player, he understands the game of rugby and  we are very lucky to have him,” said Munster coach van Graan. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Munster coach and fellow players united in appreciation of the outhalf’s leadership skills

Peter O’Mahony during a Munster squad session at University of Limerick ahead of Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final against Saracens. Photograph: Inpho

Munster captain believes Johann van Graan has enhanced province’s attacking threat

Joey Carbery during a Munster training session at UL. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Keith Earls and Jean Kleyn are expected to return to training

Munster head coach Johann van Graan and CJ Stander celebrate  their 7-13 Champions Cup victory over Edinburgh at Murrayfield.  Photograph:  ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Munster head coach delighted with his team’s victory over Edinburgh at Murrayfield

 Munster’s Keith Earls celebrates scoring their first try with teammates in the province’s narrow Champions Cup quarter-final win over Edinburgh in  Murrayfield Stadium, Scotland. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Johann van Graan’s side come from behind against Edinburgh to claim hard-fought win

Munster head coach Johann van Graan celebrates the victory  over Edinburgh  at Murrayfield with his son Wyatt. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Head coach thanks Munster support after his side book a third straight semi-final spot

Munster’s Keith Earls celebrates after scoring his try in the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final at  Murrayfield. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Brilliant defensive performance backs up opportunist strikes from Ireland winger

Tadhg Beirne: his ability to force turnovers of considerable value  for  Munster. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Other figures add up to a difficult assignment for the visitors at Murrayfield

The Irish players sing the national anthem ahead of the fifth and final Six Nations match against Wales in Colwyn Bay. Photograph: Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Ireland’s Under-20s secured just a second Six Nations Grand Slam in history. This is their story

Club disappointed with appeal ruling but accept they breached ‘material benefit’ rule

Welsh referee Ben Whitehouse took charge of Leinster’s clash with Edinburgh. Photograph: Inpho

It’s important to recognise the role of clubs in Ireland’s Under-20 Grand Slam triumph

Ulster’s Marcell Coetzee in action in their win over Leicester Tigers in the Champions Cup in January. The player returns for Ulster for the first time tonight. Photograph:  Gary Carr/Inpho

Five changes see Dave Shanahan come in at scrumhalf and the return of Marcell Coetzee

 Ronan O’Gara during a training session with the Crusaders in Christchurch, New Zealand. Photograph: Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

Media reports in France also claim Paul O’Connell is set to leave Stade Francais

Ireland’s Ultan Dillane takes on France’s  Mathieu Bastareaud during the recent clash at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Coach Friend includes three internationals in squad for important Pro14 test

Dan Leavy: makes his return to Leinster’s starting line-up for his first game since December 22nd. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Flalnker’s fitness a boost for Cullen in advance of Champions Cup quarter-final

Joe Schmidt: Ireland’s head coach has plenty of time still to fine-tune his squad for the next World Cup. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Rugby stats: Squad changes and work done between now and September will be key

St Michael’s Mark Hernan lifts the trophy after they beat Gonzaga to claim the Senior Cup title. Photo: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Experienced campaigners too good on the day for opponents appearing in first ever final

Ireland’s Angus Kernohan makes a break during the under-20s Six Nations win over Wales. Photo: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Ulster player came off the bench in Colwyn Bay to help Ireland to victory over Wales

Gonzaga College’s Henry Godson, who scored three tries, celebrates the victory over Clongowes Wood College  in the semi-final at  Energia Park, Donnybrook, Dublin. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

St Michael’s remain favourites having overcome both Blackrock and Belvedere

Ireland fan Jennifer Malone celebrates with the players after the victory over Wales secured the  Grand Slam in the Under-20 Six Nations in Colwyn Bay. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Coach praises young Ireland players’ resilience after things went against them

Ireland players celebrate after beating Wales in Colwyn Bay to secure the Grand Slam. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Noel McNamara’s side secure come from behind victory in Colwyn Bay

Ireland Under-20  coach Noel McNamara:. “The boys are aware of the opportunity that’s there. That’s come about by backing themselves. and doing all the right things in the previous rounds.”  Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Hosts Wales have made seven changes and a number of positional switches to the side that lost to Scotland

The Ireland U-20s have already beaten England, Scotland, Italy and France. Photograph: Matteo Ciambelli/Inpho

John O’Sullivan profiles the Irish U-20s side who will win the Grand Slam if they beat Wales on Friday night

Rory Best: played in all 51 of Ireland’s matches in the Six Nations from February 4th, 2007 until the second game of the 2017 tournament.  Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Rugby Statistics: Hooker has been a remarkably consistent figure in his 116 caps to date

Harry Byrne of Ireland kicks a conversion during the win over Italy. Photo: Matteo Ciambelli/Inpho

There is just one change to the team chasing a Grand Slam for only the second time ever

Liam Turner: “All the coaches are really helpful, so I have come on in leaps and bounds in terms of conditioning and rugby knowledge.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

The Ireland Under-20s are determined to finish the year with a Grand Slam

Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton scores from a well-reheased strike play against France in Dublin. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Referee undermines his final warning to French by refusing to follow through on it

Ireland’s wing, Keith Earls,  runs in their fourth try during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and France at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Damien Meyer/AFP

Dominance upfront affords Ireland’s halfbacks opportunity to dictate game

Wales wing George North and Scotland’s Byron McGuigan chase the ball during the Six Nations match at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh. Photograph: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images

All-conquering Welsh side close in on Grand Slam ahead of weekend Ireland showdown

Felix Lambey was the standout player in a poor French performance. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Felix Lambey’s performance is a silver lining on a bleak day for French rugby in Dublin

Scott Penny celebrates Ireland’s win over France. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Dogged side show their character to wear down visitors and earn a shot at history

Charlie Ryan, the Ireland U-20 captain. “The first game [against England] the atmosphere was the best I have ever played in. It’s only going to get better for this France game.” Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

Absence of injured captain Hawkshaw a huge loss for McNamara’s team

Ireland’s only try scorer in the last four matches against the French is scrumhalf Conor Murray (2017). Photograph: Ian Walton/Getty Images

Rugby statistics: Once a staple of Paris trips, touchdowns are now thin on the ground

Ireland skipper set to miss last two games of U20 Six Nations with knee injury

Ireland Rugby Squad Training, Carton House, Co, Kildare 22/2/2019Sean CroninMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

CJ Stander, Garry Ringrose and Kieran Marmion return for French visit

Rob Kearney: “We probably were a little bit broken after the English game but I think that’s understandable and you’d expect that.” Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Veteran fullback admits confidence has been shaken as he calls for big response against France

Robbie Henshaw and Andrew Conway at Ireland’s training base in Carton House. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

The Leinster back is recovering from training ground injury slower than expected

France’s Gael Fickou in action during the victory over Scotland. “I know that our fans are also very critical, it’s normal. Their disappointment, I understand it. I share it.” Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Critics claim France coach’s chopping and changing means he is unsure of his best backline

Ireland Under-20 captain David Hawkshaw taking part in an open training session  against the Ireland senior side at Queen’s University in Belfast. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Centre suffered a knee injury in training for Friday’s game in Cork

 World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont will convene a meeting of stakeholders in Dublin to discuss proposals for a new World Rugby League. Photograph: Issei Kato/Reuters

Proposals have drawn widespread criticism from players on grounds of player welfare

Sebastien Bezy in action for Toulouse during the Top 14. Photograph: Sandra Ruhaut/Icon Sport via Getty Images

French head coach Jacques Brunel calls up duo to training squad ahead of Dublin clash

Max Deegan steals a lineout ahead of Walt Steenkamp during Leinster’s win over the Cheetahs. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Pro14 champions rely on individual brilliance to see them through at sodden RDS

Jordi Murphy (above) and John Cooney have been released to play by Ireland coach Joe Schmidt for Ulster’s Pro14 match against Dragons. Photograph: Inpho

Pro14 preview: Sunday, Dragons v Ulster, Rodney Parade (3pm, live on Premier Sports 2)

Rory Scannell will become the youngest player to reach 100 appearances for province. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Pro14 preview: Scarlets v Munster, Parc y Scarlets (5.0, live on TG4, Premier Sports 2)

Tom Farrell and Stephen Fitzgerald with teammates at  Connacht’s squad training session at  Sportsground, Galway. Photograph: James Crisbie/Inpho

Pro14 preview: Connacht v Ospreys, Sportsground (2.45, live on TG4, Premier Sports 1)

Wales’  Corey Hill, who scored a try  against England. Photograph:Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Coaches are juggling between being competitive in the Six Nations and planning for Japan

Mick Dawson: “The schools system is fantastic but also there are an awful lot of other kids outside the traditional rugby playing schools who are playing rugby.”  Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Building, which cost €1.3m, will be first of five planned centres throughout the province

Conor Murray celebrates after scoring Ireland’s bonus-point try against Italy at Stadio Olimpico on Sunday. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ireland scrumhalf started poorly but the graph climbed as the game wore on

Ireland’s Ultan Dillane with a happy  debutant Jack Carty after the victory after Italy in Rome. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Connacht man thrilled to make his international bow in the victory over Italy

 Ireland’s Jacob Stockdale runs in a try. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Not much to write home about from disappointing Roman holiday

Scrumhalf Kathryn Dane comes into the Ireland side.

Italy have made unbeaten start to their Six Nations campaign

Ulster’s Darren Cave will make his 222nd appearance for the province.

Peter Nelson and Dave Shanahan will start together as halfbacks for first time

Andrew Porter during Leinster squad training. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Southern Kings opt to rotate their squad against Leinster following Munster hammering

A Connacht  training session in the Sportsground, Galway, before the trip to Glasgow. Photograph:  James Crombie/Inpho

Daly will play in midfield for the visitors, while Fitzgerald continues on the right wing

Dylan Tierney-Martin of Ireland under-20. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Craig Casey reclaims the number nine jersey, while Angus Kernohan makes his first appearance

Jack O’Donoghue at Munster squad training in Limerick. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Nash gets rare opportunity on the wing, while Hanrahan is handed the No 10 jersey

Ireland’s Robbie Henshaw  is tackled by Jonny May of England during their   Six Nations defeat at the Aviva Stadium on February 2nd. Photograph: Reuters

Rugby stats: Schmidt looking for indication of players that will form World Cup squad

Billy Scannell is in the Ireland Under-20 squad travelling to Italy this weekend. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

A fit-again Lindsay Peat returns to the Irish women’s squad for the trip to Italy

Iain Henderson: was cited for an incident in the Guinness Pro14 game against Ospreys  but was cleared by the disciplinary committee. Photograph: Gary  Carr/INpho

Robbie Henshaw also set to return after signing three-year contract extension

Sean O’Brien at an Ireland Rugby press conference in Carton House, Co Kildare.  Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

‘I did say to him that I wanted to play every game. I don’t want to be managed.'

Sean O’Brien: “That’s all up in the air but afterwards, I’d hope to be still in the mix if possible and fit.”

Players who ply their trade outside of Ireland aren’t normally considered for selection

Garry Ringrose looks set to miss Ireland’s clash with Italy as he continues his recovery from a hamstring injury. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Chris Farrell fit to train on Tuesday with Beirne and Iain Henderson back in the fold

Nigel Owens awards England a penalty try against France as Geoffrey Doumatrou contests the decision. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty

Guy Noves’ France tribunal begins, eventful London Irish bow for resilient Ian Keatley

 Rob Kearney is tackled by Scotland’s Rob Harley during the Six Nations victory at Murrayfield in Edinburgh. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Veteran fullback has proven his worth over a storied career but is far from finished yet

Andy Farrell is set to take over from Joe Schmidt following the Rugby World Cup. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

The heir to Joe Schmidt’s throne has his immediate attention turned towards Italy

Jonathan Sexton talks to forwards coach Simon Easterby during Friday’s training session at the Aviva. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Andy Farrell confirms outhalf had no lingering issues arising from bang to the head

Iain Henderson: has recovered from a finger injury sustained during the victory over Leicester Tigers at Welford Road. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

Visitors will need most things to fall their way to prevail over Ospreys

Andrew Conway: has recovered from injury and starts on the right wing for Munster against Southern Kings. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Van Graan’s squad poised to maintain their lead in Conference A of Pro 14

Quinn Roux lead the way in clearouts for Ireland against Scotland. Photograph:  David Rogers/Getty Images

Rugby statistics: Forwards led the way against Scotland in the breakdown and tackle

Ireland’s Garry Ringrose caught by the England defence during the Guinness Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin on February 2nd. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA Wire

After sitting out Ireland’s Murrayfield revival, Ringrose is expected to play in Rome

 Leinster coach Stuart Lancaster: “The way the game played out I think England deserved it in the end.” Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Leinster coach believes Ireland will finish strongly in games against France and Wales

Sean O’Brien has agreed a three-year deal with London Irish. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Leinster and Ireland flanker will join English club after World Cup in November

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has no new injuries to worry about. Photograph: James Burrows/Inpho

Joe Schmidt has no new injury concerns following the nine point win over Scotland

Ireland’s  Cormac Foley scoring a try against England in Cork in the  Under-20 Six Nations championship. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Defence coach Campbell sees possible weakness in Scotland’s set-piece

 Scotland  coach Gregor Townsend: he  is receptive to ideas from his coaching team, and will always test his own theories on the game in a practical way.  Photograph:  Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Townsend encourages players who are free spirits to express themselves on the pitch

Cormac Foley scoring a try against England in the Under-20 Six Nations Championship match at Donnybrook. The St Mary’s scrumhalf will start against Scotland in place of the injured Craig Casey. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

St Mary’s player scored a try off the bench against England

 Joe Schmidt: The last time he saw Ireland recover from an interval deficit to record a victory was in the  23-17 victory over the Pumas  in Tucumán, Argentina in  2014. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Since 2014 on all 10 times Ireland trailed at the interval, they went on to lose the game

Ireland’s Devin Toner is replaced by Quinn Roux at last Saturday’s  Six Nations Championship round 1 match against England at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

One by one, the squad’s tall pines have been felled by injury, so what are Schmidt’s options?

Ireland’s CJ Stander sustained a facial injury against England. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Andrew Conway returns to Munster as Ringrose and Earls await further assessment

John Cooney scores a late consolation try for Ireland in the Six Nations game against England at the Aviva stadium. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Ulster scrumhalf makes try-scoring Six Nations debut and makes case for more exposure

 Scotland’s Finn Russell in action during their victory over Italy at Murrayfield. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Gregor Townsend’s side’s bonus-point victory over Italy spoiled by conceding three tries

England’s Billy Vunipola attempts to block a kick from Ireland’s Conor Murray. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Eddie Jones’ England come out on top in aerial duels as defending champions beaten

Owen Farrell celebrates a second-half penalty in Dublin. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

John O’Sullivan ranks the visitors after their impressive performance at the Aviva

Ultan Dillane during Ireland training at Carton House in the build-up to the England Six nations opener. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

The competition for Joe Schmidt’s squad for this year’s tournament in Japan is intense

Ireland’s Conor Phillips and Cadan Murley of England challenge for the ball during the Under-20 Six Nations match at Musgrave Park. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Noel McNamara’s side get Under-20 Six nations campaign off to perfect start

England attack coach Scott Wisemantel with lock George Kruis at  a press conference in Dublin on Friday. Photograph:   Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

England attack coach well aware of threat of Ireland’s kicking game

Jacob Stockdale scores his memorable try at Twickenham last season. Photograph:  Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Joe Schmidt’s side boast a better try-scoring record the Eddie Jones’ current England crop

England’s Elliot Daly scores his side’s first try against Ireland in the Six Nations tournament at Twickenham Stadium on March 17, 2018. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Young back’s ability to play at centre, wing and fullback comes with a caveat

Leinster flanker Scott Penny will make his Ireland Under-20 debut against England in Cork on Friday night. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Ireland coach Noel McNamara names Leinster flanker in backrow

Ireland winger Keith Earls at a press conference at Carton House, Co  Kildare, ahead of taking on England in the Six Nations on Saturday. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Winger is set to win his 73rd cap against England, having scored 27 tries

Maxime Mbanda: ideally suited to the role of flanker and makes an impact in all aspects of that role. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Opportunity knocks for Mbanda, Dupont, Cokanasiga, Cooney, Young and McInally

Leinster’s Rob Kearney has joined up with the Ireland squad. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Ireland back in Carton House as they prepare to take on England

 Ulster’s Michael Lowry: “He is an exciting player, he is a confident player, he is a really good footballer with great skills.” Photograph:   David Rogers/Getty Images

Young Ulster player has come through a nine-month hiatus due to a groin injury

Joey Carbery kicks a penalty in the Heineken Champions Cup Round 6 match between Munster and Exeter Chiefs in  Thomond Park, Limerick, last Saturday. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Rugby Statistics: Munster outhalf has landed 20 kicks on the bounce in last four games

Leinster’s David Hawkshaw in action in Thomond Park earlier this month. Photograph: ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Ireland under-20 captain says the aggression from hurling is a big benefit in rugby

Leinster’s Johnny Sexton talks to referee Frank Murphy during their fractious match against Munster at Thomond Park last month. Photograph: Inpho

Leinster backs coach Felipe Contepomi says lack of game time not an issue for outhalf

Conor O’Brien scores a try for Leinster against Ulster in the Pro14 clash at the RDS earlier this month. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Westmeath-born centre eager to follow in the footsteps of Robbie Henshaw

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