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Callum Robinson questioned on vaccine stance; Gordon D’Arcy on how Munster can end barren run

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

Vaccination rates continues to be a struggle for professional soccer teams with rates among Premier League players significantly lower than the general population. Ahead of Ireland's World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan this Saturday, Callum Robinson spoke yesterday of how he has chosen not to get vaccinated, despite having Covid-19 twice. Robinson didn't go into specific reasons but he is not alone in the Ireland squad, something Stephen Kenny doesn't agree with but won't exclude players on vaccination status. "I think for individual associations to just come together to decide not to select any player that hasn't got it would create as many problems," said Kenny. "They're problems we don't need to have." Elsewhere, 25 men who claim they are victims of historical sexual abuse at Celtic Boys Club have launched group proceedings against Celtic Football Club, reports Ewan Murray.

Moving on to rugby and it emerged last night that Adre Smith has been cited for allegedly biting Munster's Niall Scannell during Saturday's URC clash at Thomond Park. "If found guilty of biting, Smith could face a minimum of 12 weeks suspension, not taking into account mitigating factors, with the medium entry point at 18 weeks and high entry point set at 24 weeks," reports Gerry Thornley. On the topic of Munster, Gordon D'Arcy writes in his column this morning that Gavin Coombes could be the catalyst for Johann van Graan's side to end their nine-year barren run. "There is a nice balance to the current squad that, for me, has been missing since the halcyon days of their European triumphs. It's a mixture of young players coming of age, others returning from injury and some astute signings," he writes. It was also announced yesterday that Leinster have appointed Denis Leamy as skills coach, a move which Robyn McBride hailed as "brilliant".

On to GAA and Seán Moran writes this morning that the workload of intercounty players must be considered in new championship proposals. "The concept of amateurism has also changed in the past 24 years. It's now simply a refusal to countenance pay for play. There have been various test situations arising, the most interesting of which was Colm Cooper's testimonial in 2017," he writes.

In other news, Ian Botham has criticised England players for their indecision on whether to travel to Australia for The Ashes in December while, in golf, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka will face off in a 12-hole made-for-TV match in Las Vegas next month.

Ruaidhrí Croke

Ruaidhrí Croke

Ruaidhrí Croke is a sports journalist with The Irish Times