Maro Itoje celebrates Saracens’ 2019 Heineken Cup final victory over Leinster. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Munster and Ulster face opening away trips as Connacht welcome Montpellier to Galway

Jofra Archer took 6-45 as England bowled Australia out for 179 at Headingley. Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty

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

Séamus Callanan heads down the Croke Park tunnel with Liam MacCarthy. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

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

Chris Jordan presents Jofra Archer with his Test cap at Lord’s. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty

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

CFR Cluj manager Dan Petrescu celebrates his side’s victory over Celtic at Parkhead. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA

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

 Manchester City players celebrate with the Premier League trophy after winning the title at   Brighton back in May. Photograph:  Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Key men, ones to watch, transfers in and out and predictions for all 20 teams

A view of the Principality Stadium, where Ireland will meet Wales on August 31st. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Joe Schmidt’s side are in the Welsh capital for their penultimate World Cup warm-up

Wexford’s Paul Morris is tackled by Tipperary’s Padraic Maher during the All-Ireland SHC semi-final in Croke Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Intimate world of hurley manufacturing still fuelling a national obsession

Toners of Lr Baggot St. Includes a bustling yard out the back that can be suitable for early and late season fixtures. Photograph: Colm O’Neill/Inpho

Premier League gets underway this weekend, including Man United against Chelsea

The Rugby World Cup will be Warren Gatland’s Wales swansong. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Grand Slam winners can mount a serious challenge as Warren Gatland bids farewell

AJ MacGinty in action for the USA against Ireland in 2017. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Gary Gold’s side faced with a daunting pool but have AJ MacGinty steering the ship

Uruaguay’s Felip Berchesi in action against Australia at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty

Spirited Los Teros will to well to avoid anything other than four pool stage defeats

The All Blacks celebrate their 2015 Rugby World Cup triumph at Twickenham. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty

Steve Hansen’s side are bidding to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for a third-straight time

Sonatane Takulua in action against Wales in 2017. Photograph: Phil Walker/Getty

Pacific Islanders will be relishing the chance to face France after famous victory in 2011

Herschel Jantjies scores his match-saving try for the Springboks against the All Blacks. Photograph: Mark Tantrum/Getty

Rassie Erasmus has returned an exciting South Africa side back towards their best

Antoine Dupont is one of the shining lights of French rugby. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Les Bleus look dysfunctional but the likes of Ntamack and Dupont offer glimmer of hope

Tedo Abzhandadze is one of Georgia’s brightest prospects. Photograph: Amilcar Orfali/Getty

Lelos have a rare chance to prove themselves against Tier One opposition in Japan

Fiji captain Dominiko Waqaniburotu. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

McKee’s side have more history to make after wins over France and the Maori All Blacks

Maro Itoje will be one of the most exciting forwards on show in Japan. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Eddie Jones’s side should go close in Japan if the likes of Billy Vunipola are fit and firing

Plenty will be resting on the shoulders of captain Michael Hooper in Japan. Photograph: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo/Getty

Australia head to World Cup without Israel Folau and after their worst year since 1958

Argentina captain Pablo Matera in action against the All Blacks. Photograph: John Davidson/Inpho

Super Rugby finalists will supply the core of Mario Ledesma’s Pumas squad in Japan

Rassie Erasmus has sparked an impressive renaissance from the Springboks. Photograph: Ross Setford/Reuters

World Champions and South Africa look sure to qualify from uncompetitive group

Romain Ntamack is one of an exciting crop of young France players. Photograph: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty

An opening round clash between Les Bleus and Los Pumas is a mouth watering start

Joe Schmidt’s Ireland are favourites to top Pool A. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

An opening meeting between Celtic cousins in Yokohama likely to decide pool winners

Warren Gatland oversees a Welsh training camp in Switzerland ahead of the Rugby World Cup. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty

Warren Gatland’s side have peaked at the right time but Australia are struggling

England’s James Anderson returns to the fold for today’s opening Ashes Test at Edgbaston. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty

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

The scoreboard at Lord’s showing England’s first innings total of 85 all out against Ireland. Photograph: Alex Davidson/Inpho

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

Eoin Morgan’s England take on Australia in the World Cup semi-finals at Edgbaston on Thursday. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty

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

Virat Kohli in action during’s India’s rain-affected World Cup semi-final against New Zealand. Photograph: Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP/Getty

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

Cori Gauff was beaten in straight sets by Simona Halep to end her dream run at Wimbledon. Photograph: Tony O’Brien/Reuters

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

Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan celebrate after the USA’s World Cup final win over the Netherlands. Photograph: Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty

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

Frankie Dettori after his Ascot Gold Cup win on Stradivarius. Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Getty

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

Frankie Detorri and Crystal Ocean were victorious at Royal Ascot on Wednesday. Photograph: lan Crowhurst/Getty

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

Rory McIlroy is hoping for a fast start in this week’s US Open. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty

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

Alex Morgan scored five as the USA demolished Thailand 13-0. Photograph: Robert Cianflone/Getty

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

Joseph Chipolina’s own goal gave Ireland the lead against Gibraltar. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

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

Maurizio Sarri celebrates with the trophy after Chelsea’s Europa League final win over Arsenal. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA

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

Chelsea train at Baku’s Olympic Stadium ahead of the Europa League final. Photograph: Francois Nel/Getty

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

The Pro14 trophy outside Celtic Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

All you need to know ahead of the final game of the season at Glasgow’s Celtc Park

CJ Stander provided physicality for Munster on a day they were outgunned by Leinster. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

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

Joey Carbery faces his old teammates on Saturday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

All you need to know ahead of the Pro14 semis including Ulster’s trip to play Glasgow

Ireland defender Richard Keogh celebrates Derby’s win over Leeds with Jack Marriott. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA

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

Alex Bjork of Sweden plays a shot on the 18th hole during a practice round prior to the 2019 PGA Championship at the Bethpage Black course in Bethpage, New York. Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The second Major of the year gets underway at Bethpage Black in New York on Thursday

Saracens celebrate their Champions Cup victory over Leinster. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty

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

Vincent Kompany lifts the Premier League trophy after Man City’s 4-1 win at Brighton. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty

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

Saracens celebrate their win over Leinster in Newcastle. Photograph: Andrew Fosker/Inpho

There’s plenty of praise for Saracens’ power game as number eight steals the headlines

Billy Vunipola carries during Saracens’ final win over Leinster. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty

Patrick Madden runs the rule over the European champions after their final victory

Johnny Sexton trains ahead of Leinster’s Heineken Cup final clash with Saracens. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

All you need to know as Leinster bid for a fifth European Cup crown in Newcastle

Lionel Messi curls in Barcelona’s third against Liverpool. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty

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

Daley Blind celebrates Ajax’s first leg win over Tottenham in London. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty

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

New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum is already signed up to play in the Euro T20 Slam. Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

New tournament will take place in Dublin, Edinburgh and Amsterdam

Ajax manager Erik ten Hag ahead of his side’s clash with Spurs in London. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty

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

Burnley goalkeepr Tom Heaton reacts after Sergio Aguero scored Manchester City’s winner at Turf Moor. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty

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

Shane Long scored the fastest goal in Premier League history for Southampton at Watford. Photograph: David Klein/Reuters

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

Rory McIlroy opened with a 73 at Augusta. Photograph: Kevin C Cox/Getty

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

Tottenham celebrate Son’s winner against Manchester City. Photograph: Neil Hall/EPA

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

Runners and riders jump Canal Turn on the first time of asking during the 2018 Randox Health Grand National at Aintree Racecourse. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Tiger Roll the hot favourite to retain crown in the world’s most famous steeplechase

Tottenham Hostpur beat Crystal Palace 2-0 at the fist game in their new stadium. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA

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

Ashley Young was sent off during Manchester United’s defeat to Wolves. Photograph: Andrew Yates/Reuters

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

Aaron Ramsey scores Arsenal’s opener against Newcastle. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA

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

Aiden O’Shea celebrates Mayo’s victory over Kerry. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

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

Antoine Dupont scores a try for Toulouse during their win over Racing 92. Photograph: Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty

Munster face a daunting trip to Saracens as defending champions face familiar foes

Leinster’s Johnny Sexton and Ross Byrne in training ahead of the Champions Cup quarter-final meeting with Ulster. Photo: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

All you need to know ahead of an all-Irish derby in Dublin for a semi-final place

Munster’s Joey Carbery with head coach Johann van Graan during training ahead of their Champions Cup quarter-final meeting with Edinburgh. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

All you need to know ahead of the first quarter-final of Champions Cup weekend

Ole Gunnar Solskjær walks next to the pitch at Old Trafford after being announced as the new manager of Manchester United on Thursday. Photograph: Peter Powell/EPA

The Norwegian is well aware that the real work only starts now after his appointment

Bundee Aki returns for Connacht against Sale. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Connacht travel to play Sale Sharks on Friday as they bid for a place in the last four

Munster’s Tyler Bleyendaal during training ahead of the Champions Cup quarter-final clash against Edinburgh in Murrayfield. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Munster, Leinster and Ulster are all bidding for a place in the semi-finals this weekend

David McGoldrick was named man of the match during Ireland’s win over Georgia. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Patrick Madden runs the rule over McCarthy’s side after their narrow win in Dublin

David McGoldrick challenges Gibraltar’s  Louie Annesley. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

We run the rule over Mick McCarthy’s men as they grind their way to a winning start

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

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