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Thornley on alarming study for rugby; Mic the GAA referees up on matchday

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

Another day, another harrowing piece of news for neurological problems among rugby players. A study released by the University of Glasgow yesterday suggests that rugby players are 15 times more likely than members of the general public to suffer from motor neurone disease. Gerry Thornley looks at how this is yet another existential crisis for the game. Despite all the measures to limit contact training and eradicate dangerous tackles through cards and bans, how many parents are going to see news like this and continue to allow their children to play? If the talent line dwindles to a certain extent at grassroots level, the game as we know it will cease to exist. Before that happens, Leinster take on the Sharks this weekend and Jordan Larmour has been discussing his role in the Leinster side. He is enjoying a regular run of games now that he is fit, and he has spoken of the impact new backs coach Andrew Goodman has had on the group. Also approaching in the not so distant future is the women’s World Cup (minus Ireland, of course). Joanne O’Riordan takes a look at why England are such heavy favourites to win the tournament.

“Hearing referees talk like human beings might be the first step towards players and fans treating them in the same vein.” Amid the continuing discussion of the blight of referee abuse in the GAA, Ciarán Murphy has an intriguing suggestion that might help: mic the referees up on matchday. TG4 did it earlier in the year with great success; it helped people actually understand where referees were coming from – as well as helping fans to properly understand the rules of the game, which is another matter altogether. In more day-to-day news, Galway have confirmed that football manager Pádraic Joyce has agreed to stay on for another three years.

Kyra Carusa is the only striker in the Ireland soccer squad with Champions League pedigree, yet she only has seven caps to her name. Injuries have held her back but she is fit and raring to go for the World Cup playoff this month, be it against Scotland or Austria. She sits down with Mary Hannigan to talk about her journey from San Diego to Tallaght, via a small town in Denmark: “A big-time player has to show big time moments — and I know I’m that kind of player, that’s my mentality. So, while success might not be now, it will absolutely be in the future.” In men’s Champions League action, Chelsea humbled AC Milan at Stamford Bridge last night while - you guessed it - Erling Haaland scored another two goals in Manchester City’s rout of Copenhagen.

Eliud Kipchoge is one of the few marathon personalities to transcend the sport in recent years, the one runner all the big marathons want to see on their start line. Given his success in the Berlin marathon recently and how countless future athletes cut their teeth in the mini-marathons that run alongside the main events in various cities, it is easy to see how Kipchoge can inspire the next generation of runners - says Sonia O’Sullivan in her column today.