Fans return to the RDS for dead rubber; Djokovic and Nadal meet in semi-final

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

The RDS ahead of the return of fans this evening for the Pro14 Rainbow Cup game between Leinster and Dragons. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

The RDS ahead of the return of fans this evening for the Pro14 Rainbow Cup game between Leinster and Dragons. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Leinster will play in front of fans tonight at the RDS for the first time since February 2020, nearly a year and four months ago. As well as saying farewell to Michael Bent and Scott Fardy after nine and four years’ service (both of whom will start), Leinster will make a fond re-acquaintance with the 1,200 supporters who will be in attendance - giving their Dragons dead rubber real meaning. The timing of Ulster’s decision to call off their proposed signing of Leone Nakarawa is likely to make it difficult for the province to find a replacement, explains Gerry Thornley.

Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal will add another chapter to their rivalry when they face off in a much-anticipated clash today but there will be more at stake than just a spot in the French Open final. A win at Roland Garros will also give the victor a chance to shake up the race for the most men’s major titles. In the women’s draw Barbora Krejcikova becomes the fourth unseeded finalist in the last five years after she saved a match point in one of the French Open’s most dramatic semi-finals to beat Maria Sakkari and set up a final clash with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

In his column this morning, Jackie Tyrrell is calling on defenders to meet hurling’s scoring blitz head-on: “Body position and anticipation are the most basic starting points. Where is my man, where is the ball coming from, where am I in relation to those two spots on the field? That’s the calculation you have to make every time.” On arguably the lowest-profile final weekend of Allianz NHL games in memory, the outcome of the six Division 1 games across Saturday and Sunday will still carry significant weight. Both groups in Division 1 will be redrawn for the 2022 and 2023 seasons, with finishing positions on Sunday evening used to decide whether teams play in Group A or B next year.

Meanwhile, Manchester United have had an opening bid of €78 million for Jadon Sancho turned down by Borussia Dortmund, who are unwilling to lower their asking price for the England winger. Dortmund want €90m for Sancho. Former Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum has joined Paris St Germain on a three-year contract following his departure from Anfield.

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