Maro Itoje and Owen Farrell after Leinster’s win over Saracens. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Leinster’s firebrand tyros get all the plaudits while their Saracens peers look jaded

When it dawned on Bancroft that his indiscretion had been spotted, he was then seen shoving the object down his trousers before pleading innocence. Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Captain Smith and Bancroft rightly pilloried for blatant cheating against South Africa

Joe Schmidt’s Ireland are looking to become just the third Irish side to win the Grand Slam. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

The ‘scummy Irish’ head to Twickenham on St Patrick’s Day bidding for the Grand Slam

Alone they stand: Brian O’Driscoll celebrates with Jack Kyle after the 2009 Grand Slam win. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Ahead of another tilt at history on Saturday, we want to hear your Grand Slam stories

Ruby Walsh will be hoping Faugheen can roll back the years in the Champion Hurdle. Photograph: David Davies/PA

Where to watch, who to back and what to look out for during the best week of the year

Conor Murray and Bundee Aki during Ireland’s win over Scotland. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Schmidt’s side leapfrog England but could lose their place if beaten at Twickenham

Owen Farrell after England’s defeat to France. Photograph: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

Scotland left to rue missed chances while the inquest begins for England after France loss

Bundee Aki during an Ireland training session on Tuesday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

League of Ireland fixtures rescheduled while racing at Clonmel and Dundalk is called off

Johnny Sexton drops to win Ireland the match against France. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Championship leaders Ireland dominate the XV after three rounds with seven players

Jacob Stockdale runs in to score Ireland’s crucial fifth try against Wales. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Joe Schmidt’s side came a rare moment of Welsh profligacy away from a galling defeat

Finn Russell with the Calcutta Cup. Photograph: Craig Watson/Inpho

Scotland toast a win for the ages, the English inquest begins and Wales on the right track

France’s Antoine Dupont is led off the field towards the end of Ireland’s narrow Six Nations win. Photograph: Christophe Simon/AFP

FFR will face no disciplinary action after controversial end to Ireland’s win in Paris

Owen Farrell in action against Wales. Julian Finney/Getty

Keith Earls a man of the match contender while Owen Farrell imperious once again

The 2018 Six Nations will be Rhys Webb’s last with the scrumhalf set to join Toulon. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty

A huge injury list means Warren Gatland will have to delve deep into playing pools

Maro Itoje is integral to England’s hopes of making it three in a row. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

England are favourites to win a third title on the bounce but 2019 World Cup is priority

Stuart Hogg is pivotal to Scotland’s Six Nations hopes. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Can Townsend’s side continue their progression and upset tournament’s big two?

The National Leagues return while Sánchez could make his Man United debut at Yeovil

Rory McIlroy’s return to action continues in Abu Dhabi. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty

Champions Cup pool stages reach their conclusion, McIlroy’s comeback continues

Manchester United fans ahead of last year’s Europa League final win over Ajax. Photograph: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty

£35 refund for travelling fans after La Liga club refuse to drop prices

Marcus Rashford is likely to feature in Sunday’s Manchester derby. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA

The Champions Cup returns while all eyes are fixed on Sunday’s Manchester derby

Steve Smith, captain of Australia and Joe Root, captain of England pose with the Ashes urn. Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

All you need to know ahead of the start of the first test this Thursday

While a Test match might remain the sternest challenge of a player’s mental and technical capabilities, the longer form of the sport is now far from being the most lucrative. Photograph: Getty Images

Ireland set to enter world cricket’s top table as longer form of the sport faces challenges

A dejected James McClean after Ireland’s 5-1 defeat to Denmark. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

West Brom winger hits out at critics on Instagram after World Cup dream fades

A dejected Shay Given and Mick McCarthy after Ireland’s 2-1 defeat to Belgium in Brussels. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Tuesday night’s 5-1 playoff thrashing at the hands of Denmark isn’t the first of its genre

Christian Eriksen celebrates with Denmark fans after his side’s 5-1 win over Ireland. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Denmark’s hat-trick hero eulogised over as only Shane Duffy comes out with any credit

Åge Hareide has insisted Denmark will take the game to Ireland on Tuesday  night. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

‘They just want us to make a mistake. I haven’t got the patience to play like that’

Shane Duffy was a rock at the back during Ireland’s draw in Denmark. Photograph: Tim Goode/PA

Shane Duffy was a towering presence while Daryl Murphy endured long night in Copenhagen

A dejected Springboks side after their record defeat to Ireland. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP

Record defeat in Dublin the latest in a string of galling losses under Allister Coetzee

Darren Randolph tips over Yussuf Poulsen’s late header to keep the scores level in Copenhagen. Photograph: Catherin Ivill/Getty

Martin O’Neill’s men are ranked after their goalless first leg draw in Copenhagen

David Meyler is booked for a challenge on Wayne Hennessey at the end of Ireland’s win over Wales - ruling him out of the playoffs. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Denmark also have nine players who would miss second leg if they pick up a yellow card

Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen will post Denmark’s biggest threat on Saturday. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty

Age Hareide’s likely starting XI for Saturday’s crunch first leg clash in Copenhagen

James McClean in action for West Brom. The winger has been Ireland’s key player durnig the qualification campaign. Photograph: Andrew Yates/Reuters

Martin O’Neill’s likely starting line-up for Saturday’s crunch trip to Copenhagen

Martin O’Neill’s Ireland can secure a place at the World Cup for the first time since 2002 with playoff victory over Denmark. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Final nine places in Russia next summer will be decided during this international window

Seán O’Brien touches down to score against the All Blacks at Eden Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Ireland flanker finished off the try of the tour in opening All Blacks Test at Eden Park

The fixtures for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan have been anounced. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Joe Schmidt’s side face familiar foes first up, All Blacks to play Springboks in opener

Dejan Lovren endured a torrid afternoon against Harry Kane and Tottenham. Photograph: Glyn Kirk/AFP

Man United start to stall, things are looking up for Newcastle, Bilic on borrowed time

Portugal celebrate after Andre Silva’s strike gave them a 2-0 lead against Switzerland. Photograph: Armando Franca/AP

Ireland could face the Swiss but will avoid Ronaldo after his side secure qualification

James McClean’s goal gave Ireland a 1-0 win over Wales in Cardiff. Photograph: Harry Trump/Getty

From Murphy’s goal in Serbia to McClean in Vienna - the highs and lows of the campaign

 Daryl Murphy celebrates scoring  with Ciaran Clarke. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

All roads now lead to Cardiff, but what did win in Dublin teach us?

Moldova manager  Igor Dobrovolski: “We want the team to play as confidently and as aggressively as possible.” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

The Republic’s visitors are without a competitive win in 18 games

Republic of Ireland defender Cyrus Christie rates Séamus Coleman as one of the best fullbacks in the world. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Middlesbrough defender praises injured Ireland captain for his encouragement

Ireland’s Daryl Murphy during training ahead of the World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Wales. Photo: Gary Carr/Inpho

Nottingham Forest man is the national side’s form striker before crucial final group games

Aiden O’Brien during Ireland training ahead of the final two World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Wales. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

The 23-year-old was born and raised in London’s inner city but always felt Irish

Sean Maguire during Ireland training ahead of the World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Wales. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Striker could well make Ireland debut in Friday’s World Cup qualifier against Moldova

Republic of Ireland manager with Everton midfielder James McCarthy. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Manager does not rule out calling upon James McCarthy’s services for vital qualifiers

Wes Hoolahan tries to hold off Nemanja Matic during Ireland’s narrow defeat to Serbia. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Wes Hoolahan and David Meyler impress on frustrating night for Martin O’Neill’s side

 James McClean was Ireland’s best player in a very disappointing performance. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

A goal up inside four minutes Martin O’Neill’s side spent much of the match on the back foot

Nemanja Matic made his Manchester United debut against Smapdoria on Wednesday night. Photograph:  Gary Carr/Inpho

Manchester United boss says world record €222m fee for Neymar is ‘not expensive’

Henrikh Mkhitaryan puts Manchester United 1-0 up against Sampdoria at the Aviva Stadium. Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Matic made his debut in red at a packed out Aviva Stadium as pre-season came to an end

The Pro 12 is to become the Pro 14 after it was confirmed two South African sides will join the competition. Photograph: Craig Watson/Inpho

Cheetahs and Southern Kings will take part in new competition with two conferences

Ciaran Clark: “Last season we knew as a squad that we had the quality to be up there.”  Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

Big season beckons for Newcastle defender – with a possible World Cup duty as a bonus

Ireland international Ciarán Clark shares a joke with Jonjo Shelvey as Newcastle manager Rafa Benítez looks on during a visit to Dublin. Photograph: Photocall

Spaniard adored in northeast England, and this was a big factor in him signing new deal

Kieran Read in discussion with referee Romain Poite at the end of the All Blacks’ 15-15 draw with the Lions at Eden Park. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty

Referee bears the brunt of criticism after Eden Park decider turns into ‘French farce’

Ronan O’Gara was given a tough time by the New Zealand media during the last tour in 2005. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Warren Gatland’s tourists not the first and won’t be the last to be derided down under

It was Warren Gatland’s weekend in Wellington. Photograph: David Davies/PA

Kiwi media address Hansen’s midfield quandry with Gatland the weekend winner

Sonny Bill Williams’ red card proved the key moment as the All Blacks were beaten by the Lions in Wellington. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty

Kiwi media particularly scathing of Sonny Bill Williams after second Test loss to Lions

Cabinteely and New Zealand players come on to the pitch in Stradbrook. Photograph: Inpho

Leeds United striker Chris Wood scores twice for the All Whites, kitted out in all black

Harry Arter was named man of the match as Ireland beat Uruguay 3-1. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Martin O’Neill’s men warm-up for key Austria clash with friendly win over Uruguay

Jonathan Joseph leaves the pitch after the Lions’ tour opening win against the New Zealand Barbarians. Photograph: David Davies/PA

New Zealand media deliver scathing verdict on tourists after narrow opening victory

 Sonny Bill Williams in action for the Blues, the Lions’ second opponents of the tour. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty

Warren Gatland’s side must face all five of New Zealand’s red hot domestic franchises

 Billy Vunipola is aiming to win the Champions Cup and Premiership with Saracens before going to New Zealand with the Lions. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Saracens number eight going for club glory on two fronts before Lions tour New Zealand

Johnny Sexton is set to feature on his second Lions tour after starting all three Tests in 2013. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty

Gatland names 37-man squad on Wednesday with plenty of home players in contention

Paul McCormack (left) with guide Karl Pierce at the US Blind Golf Open.

A former member of the NYPD, his eyesight deteriorated working in the wake of 9/11

James McCarthty pulled out of Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Wales after injuring himself in the warm-up. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Ireland manager has responded to claims that he didn’t protect James McCarthy

Neil Taylor is shown a straight red for his challenge on Séamus Coleman. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Qualification still realistic for Chris Coleman’s side but they must do it the hard way

Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh are looking for their first win of this year’s Cheltenham Festival. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Mullins can get his Cheltenham Festival up and running, Man United take on Rostov

The brilliant Douvan is set for Champions Chase glory at Cheltenham on Wednesday. Photograph: PA

The limitless Douvan is set for Champion Chase glory on day two at Cheltenham

Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh will be looking to score with Melon and Limini on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival. Photogrpah: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

It’s Champion Day at the Cheltenham Festival while the Champions League resumes

Jonathan Joseph was England’s hat-trick hero against Scotland. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA

England and Wales predicatbly dominate after Championship’s penultimate weekend

Ireland take on Cardiff at the Millennium Stadium on Friday night. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland face Wales in a huge clash under the roof in Cardiff while Tipp face Kilkenny

Rob Howley has offered the same squad the chance of redemption against Ireland on Friday night. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Superior try-scoring record gives Schmidt’s side the upperhand in Cardiff showdown

Johnny Sexton starts for Ireland in their Six Nations clash with France at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Six Nations resumes, Mayo play Roscommon and the League Cup final at Wembley

France’s Louis Picamoles has made a staggering 201-metres in his side’s opening two Six Nations fixtures - the highest in the tournament. Photograph: Yoan Valat/EPA

Who have been the standout performers in the opening two rounds of fixtures?

Liam Williams was one of the standout players as Wales were narrowly beaten by England in Cardiff. Photograph: Inpho/James Crombie

Despite defeat in Cardiff Wales dominate the XV after a number of standout performances

 Elliot Daly’s late try gave England victory over Wales and left them in pole position in the championship race. Photograph: Getty/David Rogers

Bonus point wins against France and Wales likely to be needed before England visit

Leigh Halfpenny was back to his metronomic best in as Wales won their opener against Italy. Photograph: Getty/David Rogers

Which tour hopefuls need an improved performance in Six Nations round two?

Simon Easterby evades Sergio Parisse to score for Ireland in their 51-24 win over Italy in 2007. Photograph: Inpho/Dan Sheridan

Schmidt’s side are looking to bounce back with four try win over Italy - easier said than done

Ireland take on Italy at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday as they look to get their Six Nations campaign back on track. Photograph: Inpho/James Crombie

The Six Nations continues, there’s a Croke Park double-header and the Irish Gold Cup

Louis Picamoles was a deserved man of the match as France were edged out by England at Twickenham. Photograph: Inpho/James Crombie

Stuart Hogg and Louis Picamoles were star performers during the opening weekend

Who will Warren Gatland be keeping a close eye on during this year’s Six Nations? Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

A look at who could be in line to face the All Blacks ahead of opening weekend

Eir Sport will show a total of 23 games live on Saturday nights from the Allianz Leagues. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Broadcaster to show 23 live games in football and hurling across their three channels

Munster take on Racing 92 at the Stade Yves du Manoir on Saturday. Photograph: Getty/Dan Mullan

Province return to Paris with top spot in Champions Cup Pool One in their sights

Robbie Brady and Shane Long will meet in the FA Cup third round for the first time since their Euro 2016 campaign with Ireland. Photo: Getty Images

A meeting of new managers, Stam’s homecoming and a chance for Irish to impress

Martin O’Neill celebrates Ireland’s win over Italy in Lille. He has heralded Robbie Brady’s winning header as the moment of 2016. Photograph: Inpho/James Crombie

Boss pleased with how Séamus Coleman has flourished since taking captain’s armband

Leo Cullen’s Leinster take on Ulster in a mouth-watering New Year’s Eve clash at the RDS. Photograph: Inpho/Tommy Dickson

2016 ends with a bang as provinces do battle alongside a glut of Premier League fixtures

Rory McIlroy: “It would be great to get a couple of wins early on and be in good form heading into Augusta.” Photograph: Getty Images

Speaking at the Excellence in Sport Awards, McIlroy welcomes Woods’ return

Ireland recorded a famous win over Australia at the 2011 Rugby World Cup, winning 15-6 in Auckland. Photograph: Inpho/Billy Stickland

All the information needed as Joe Schmidt’s side take on the Wallabies in Dublin

Ryan Moore riding Minding wins the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. Photograph:  Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Irish trainer picks up five awards with brilliant filly Minding named Horse of the Year

Conor Murray’s moment of magic helped Ireland to a 17-point half time lead against the All Blacks. Photograph: Inpho/Dan Sheridan

Joe Schmidt’s side went toe-to-toe with the world champions and outscored them

62,300 were at Soldier Field to watch Ireland’s victory over New Zealand - but many viewers at home missed out on the action. Photograph: Inpho/Andrew Cornaga

Famous win at Soldier Field was only available to watch on subscription channels

Steve Hansen congratulates Joe Schmidt after Ireland’s win over New Zealand in Chicago. Photograph: Getty/ Phil Walter

New Zealand rugby writers full of praise for Ireland as the All Blacks are finally beaten

Captain Seamus Coleman proved Ireland’s most potent attacking outlet during the wins over Georgia and Moldova. Photograph: PA

Wes Hoolahan once again proves he must start while captain Seamus Coleman thrives

 Kieran Behan failed to make it through artistic gymnastic qualification despite a valiant performance in Rio. Photograph: Getty

27-year-old suffers dislocated knee at end of final routine after bad landing during floor exercise

There is a one in five chance that Dundalk fans could be making the trip to Celtic Park. Photograph: Russell Cheyne/Reuters

The League of Ireland champions are just 180 minutes away from the elusive group stages

Jeff Hendrick was one of Ireland’s stand out performers at Euro 2016. Photograph: Getty

A look at how each member of Martin O’Neill’s squad fared during the Euros

Martin O’Neill has just over two months before his Ireland side are back in action when they play Oman in a friendly in Dublin. Photograph: Afp

Martin O’Neill’s men have just a couple of months before they are back in action

 The Republic of Ireland players react after the game. Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters

Antoine Griezmann fires France past Ireland into the quarter-finals. We assess the Irish performances

Robbie Brady celebrates with his family after Ireland’s 1-0 win over Italy. Photograph: Inpho/Donall Farmer

Robbie Brady’s winning header against Italy joins Ray Houghton’s strike in Irish legend

James McClean had one of his best games for Ireland against Italy in Lille. Photograph: Afp

Martin O’Neill gets his team selection spot on and Ireland’s intensity sees them into last-16

Lionel Mapoe and Springboks coach Allister Coetzee after South Africa’s second Test victory over Ireland. Photograph: Getty

Joy taken from Alistair Coetzee’s first win is tempered by first half performance

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