Gibraltar train at the Victoria Stadium ahead of their clash with Ireland. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

The second coming of Mick McCarthy begins at the 2,300 capacity Victoria Stadium

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones faces the media during Wales training ahead of the Guinness Six Nations match against Ireland in Cardiff, Wales. Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Patrick Madden looks at Warren Gatland’s 15 who are looking to complete a Grand Slam

Tadhg Beirne will make his Six Nations debut against Wales in Cardiff. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Patrick Madden looks at Joe Schmidt’s final Irish Six Nations selection

Joe Schmidt is going into his final Six Nations match as Ireland coach. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Schmidt and Gatland say their Six Nations farewells on the final weekend in Cardiff

Jamie Codd celebrates Champion Bumper victory on Envoi Allen. Photograph: Paul Harding/PA

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Altior will defend his Champion Chase crown on Wednesday. Photograph: Julian Herbert/PA

All you need to know with Altior primed for Champion Chase glory on Wednesday

Jamie Codd and Gordon Elliott at Cheltenham on Wednesday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Johnny Sexton in the gym ahead of  Ireland’s clash with Wales. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Three sides are chasing the Championship title with Wales bidding for the Grand Slam

Apple’s Jade (right) on the gallops ahead of Champion Day of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse. Photo: Simon Cooper/PA Wire

All you need to know ahead of opening day of racing’s biggest festival at Prestbury Park

Warren Gatland’s Wales are in pole position heading into the final weekend. Photograph: Ian Rutherford/PA

Ireland remain in the hunt but Wales or England the look more likely title winners

Laurina flies the flag for Willie Mullins in Tuesday’s Champion Hurdle. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty

Where to watch, who to back and what to look out at Prestbury Park this week

France’s Maxime Medard claps the Ireland players after the pitch following their Six Nations loss to Ireland. Photo: Tom Honan/The Irish Times

French media were negative in their assessments of national side

Garry Ringrose returns to the Ireland midfield to play France on Sunday after missing the games in Edinburgh and Rome through injury. Photograph:  Billy Stickland/Inpho

Patrick Madden looks at the starting XV to challenge Les Bleus on Sunday

The Ireland squad during a training session at Carton House. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ireland aiming for three wins in a row as the travelling French look to spring an upset

France outhalf Romain Ntamack goes in for his side’s  first try during the Six Nations match at the Stade De France. Photograph:  Adam Davy/PA Wire

Patrick Madden profiles France as they go unchanged for the first time since 2012

Garry Ringrose could return to the Ireland midfield for Sunday’s Six Nations clash against France at the Aviva stadium. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland face a rejuvenated French side at the Aviva on Sunday as Wales head to Murrayfield and England host Italy

Ashley Young celebrates Manchester United’s third against Crystal Palace. Photograph: Ian Walton/Reuters

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Shane Duffy can’t stop Jamie Vardy scoring during Leicester’s win over Brighton. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Braam Streyn moves to number eight in place of the injured Sergio Parisse. Photograph: Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images

Patrick Madden profiles Conor O’Shea’s starting XV for the Rome game

Dave Kilcoyne and Ultan Dillane will both start in the Ireland pack for Sunday’s Six Nations match against Italy in Rome. Photograph:  Billy Stickland/Inpho

Joe Schmidt has made four changes to his starting XV for Sunday’s game in Rome

Quinn Roux, Cian Healy, Jack Conan, Jordi Murphy and Jacob Stockdale during Ireland training ahead of the Six Nations clash with Italy. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Visitors are favourites to pick up second win but Italy know how to spring a surprise

Joey Carbery impressed when he replaced Johnny Sexton during Ireland’s win over Scotland. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/InphoI

Wales and England meet in a mammoth clash with Ireland travelling to play Italy

Paul Poga and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrate after Manchester United’s win over Chelsea in the FA Cup. Photograph: Ian Kington/AFP/Getty

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Tiger Roll and Keith Donoghue cross the line to take the Boyne Hurdle at Navan. Photograph: Peter Mooney/Inpho

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford. It is one of the biggest indictments of Mourinho and his tenure that supporters and pundits were starting to question whether Rashford was really that good.  Photograph: Getty Images

Pair are arguably the world’s most exciting young strikers

A dejected Finn Russell after Scotland’s defeat to Ireland. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Regrets? Scotland will have a few after Joe Schmidt’s side are victorious at Murrayfield

Ireland players look on during their opening round loss to England in 2000. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Schmidt’s side head to Edinburgh needing a response after their opening loss to England

Rob Kearney returns to the Irish backline alongside Jacob Stockdale. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Patrick Madden looks at Joe Schmidt’s XV looking to bounce back in Edinburgh

Stuart Hogg scored a brace of tries when Scotland beat Ireland at Murrayfield in 2017. Photograph: Ian Rutherford/PA

A look at Gregor Townsend’s side bidding for a second Championship win

Chris Farrell is set to start for Ireland against England at Murrayfield on Saturday. Photograph:  Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Schmidt’s side look to bounce back against Rugby World Cup rivals at Murrayfield

Joe Schmidt’s Ireland are looking to bounce back against Scotland in Edinburgh. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland are looking to dust themselves down as Wales and England aim for a second win

Manu Tuilagi celebrates Henry Slade’s first try against Ireland. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty

Manu Tuilagi enjoys a fine return as Ireland’s status as world number two is questioned

Manu Tuilagi will start a Test match for the first time since June 2014 against Ireland. Photograph:  Oisín Keniry/Inpho

Patrick Madden looks at the England side looking to derail Ireland

The Ireland team to play England pictured after  the Captain’s Run at the  Aviva stadium. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Patrick Madden looks at Joe Schmidt’s starting XV to take on England

Toulouse’s Romain Ntamack could be set for his international breakthrough. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Les Bleus endured a torrid 2018 but can call on exciting crop of junior world champions

Wales coach Warren Gatland with captain Alun Wyn Jones. Photograph: Clive Rose/Getty

Welsh now have the strength-in-depth to cope with usual volume of frontline injuries

Huw Jones in action at the Aviva Stadium during the 2018 Six Nations. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Gregor Townsend’s side possess a frightening backline but have injuries up front

The six captains at the Six Nations launch. Photograph: John Walton/PA(

Ireland are bidding to defend their crown in one of the most anticipated renewals ever

Manchester United dropped the first points of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tenure as they drew 2-2 with Burnley at Old Trafford. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Italy boss Conor O’Shea and his captain Sergio Parisse. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Conor O’Shea has blooded some exciting youth but Matteo Minozzi absence is cruel

Non-League Barnet earned a 3-3 draw with Championship side Brentford in the fourth round of the FA Cup. Photograph: John Walton/PA

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Owen Farrell will captain England for their Six Nations opener against Ireland, fitness providing. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Billy Vunipola and Manu Tuilagi return but Eddie Jones must decide on a settled team

Tempers flare during Limerick’s league win over Wexford. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Tadhg Furlong celebrates after Ireland’s victory over the All Blacks. Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Schmidt bidding for a fourth championship as the likes of Furlong continue to thrive

Presentin Percy (R) made a winning return to action at Gowran Park. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Oliver Burke scored twice on his Celtic debut against St Mirren. Photograph: Ian MacNicol/Getty

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Jacob Stockdale has scored 12 tries in 13 Test match appearances. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

It’s time to test your mettle and select a side to challenge ahead of the 2019 Six Nations

Richard Keogh and Derby County celebrate his winning penalty against Southampton. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Tom Farrell offloads during Connacht’s defeat to Munster. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Joe Schmidt has handed a trio of Connacht backs their first international call-ups

Joey Carbery inspired Munster to a comprehensive win over Gloucester at Kingsholm. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

All four provinces can reach European quarter-finals with victory this weekend

Jacob Stockdale’s brace of tries helped Ulster to a famous win over Racing 92. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty

Patrick Madden gets his calculator out to work out the latest pool stage permutations

Danny Cipriani is back in the Gloucester team to face Munster on Friday night. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

It is rare that the maverick English outhalf is ever judged on his rugby alone

The Heineken Cup trophy at St James’ Park, where the final will be held in May. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The story so far and the state of play ahead of this weekend’s crucial round of fixtures

Leroy Sane scores Man City’s winner against Liverpool. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer salutes the travelling Manchester United fans after his side’s 2-0 win away to Newcastle. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

United fans watch on during the 2-1 defeat to Valencia at the Mestalla. Photo: John Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images

Gutless football on the pitch had led to grim acceptance of United’s fate in the stands

Mullinalaghta’s Shane Mulligan lifts the trophy after his side’s Leinster club SFC final victory over Kilmacud Crokes. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Jacob Stockdale starts for Ulster against the Scarlets on Friday night. Photograph: Matt Mackey/Inpho

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Mick McCarthy and John Delaney at the Euro 2020 qualifier draw. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

McCarthy’s side will renew rivalries with Denmark while the Swiss are top seeds

The rescheduled Copa Libertadores final will be held at the Bernabéu. Photograph: Angel Martinez/Getty

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Martin O’Neill’s five-year Ireland tenure is over. Photograph: Simon Cooper/PA

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Martin O’Neill during Ireland’s 4-1 defeat to Wales in Cardiff. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

During final 12 months of manager’s tenure Ireland managed just a single friendly win

Robbie Brady celebrates his later winner against Italy in Lille. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

O’Neill’s five-year tenure reached dizzying heights before reaching an ignominious end

Gordon D’Arcy says James Ryan played more like an All Blacks lock than Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock did. Photograph: Garry Carr/Inpho

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Andrew Porter, Tadhg Furlong and James Ryan celebrate after Ireland’s win over the All Blacks. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Bundee Aki hugs Tadhg Furlong after Ireland’s win over the All Blacks. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Josh van der Flier celebrates Ireland’s win over the All Blacks with Tadhg Furlong and CJ Stander. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Saturday’s famous win over the All Blacks in Dublin will reverberate around the world

Bundee Aki celebrates Ireland’s 16-9 in over New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Joe Schmidt’s ‘ruthless cyborgs’ land the latest blow in modern rugby’s great rivalry

New Zealand players stand dejected at the end of the game. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Little or nothing between the teams in the statistics with Stockdale’s try proving key

“This was always going to be this year’s pinnacle assignment”

  Kieran Read (centre) walks out for the New Zealand captain’s run with Joe Moody  and Waisake Naholo at the Aviva stadium on Friday. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand captain expects physical encounter between world’s top two teams

All Blacks loosehead Karl Tu’inukuafe. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

A look at Steve Hansen’s All Blacks ahead of Saturday night’s Aviva Stadium showdown

Garry Ringrose is back in midfield for Ireland against the All Blacks. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Joe Schmidt’s XV bidding to make history against the visiting All Blacks at the Aviva

 Shane Duffy congratulates Darren Randolph after the Republic of Ireland goalkeeper made a crucial save during the friendly international against Northern Ireland at the Aviva stadium. Photograph:  Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Patrick Madden hands out the marks after the friendly draw at the Aviva

Ireland’s frontrow of Tadhg Furlong, Rory Best and Cian Healy. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Joe Schmidt’s side take on the mighty All Blacks at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday

Bundee Aki celebrates with his fmaily after Ireland’s win over Argentina. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Odsonne Edouard scores Celtic’s winner against RB Leipzig. Photograph: Ian MacNicol/Getty

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Willie Mullins’ Faugheen gets to grips with a pumpkin at Closutton. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Gordon D’Arcy: Johnny Sexton returned from his stint in Paris as a better player. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Groundstaff work on the Wembley pitch at half-time of Tottenham’s 1-0 defeat to Manchester City. Photograph: Ian Kington/AFP/Getty

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Barcelona against Real Madrid will be shown on online service Eleven Sports. Photograph:  Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty

Sky Sports have lost Spanish football rights as online service Eleven Sports take over

Danny Welbeck celebrates his winner for Arsenal in Lisbon. Photograph: Francisco Leong/AFP/Getty

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Tottenham skipper Hugo Lloris walks off after being shown a red card in Eindhoven. Photograph: John Thys/AFP/Getty

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Cristiano Ronaldo leaves the Old Trafford pitch after Juve’s 1-0 win over Manchester United. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Enable will travel to America for the Breeders Cup turf. Photograph: Francois Mori/AP

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

James Lowe and Tadhg Furlong celebrate Leinster’s fifth try in their 52-3 rout of Wasps. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Darren Randolph claims the ball during Ireland’s 0-0 draw with Denmark at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Patrick Madden runs the rule over Martin O’Neill’s side after goalless draw at the Aviva

James Lowe starts for Leinster against Wasps, with Joe Tomane on the bench. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Three provinces in action with Leinster up first against Wasps under the Friday night lights

Winx walks in the sea at Altona Beach after her victory in the Turnbull Stakes. Photograph: Vince Caligiuri/Getty

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Joey Carbery during Munster’s defeat to his former side Leinster at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Ulster’s Jordi Murphy, Leinster’s Johnny Sexton and Munster’s  Peter O’Mahony. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

European rugby’s heavyweights are ready to dust off their gloves and slug it out once again

Team Europe and captain Thomas Bjorn with the Ryder Cup trophy. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Crowds follow Tiger Woods up the 18th at East Lake. Photograph:  Kevin C. Cox/Getty

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor face off in New York. Photograph: Steven Ryan/Getty

Crumlin’s finest is back in the Octagon after two years for the biggest fight in UFC history

Rafael da Silva claps the Lyon end after his side beat Manchester City 2-1 at the Etihad. Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Mauro Icardi celebrates his stunning equaliser for Inter Milan against Spurs. Photograph: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

This year’s All-Ireland SFC medal was Ciarán Kilkenny’s fifth. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Ryan Giggs’s Wales are in Ireland’s group for the Uefa Nations League along with Denmark. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty

Ireland take on Denmark in Dublin on Saturday - but how does the competition work?

Roger Federer with John Millman after his US Open fourth round defeat. Photograph: Eduardo Alvarez Munoz/AFP/Getty

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Dublin’s James McCarthy with Sam Maguire. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

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