Gerry Thornley on the joys of winter rugby; remembering Stephen Roche’s 1987 Tour de France
The Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team
Burnley players celebrate after Ben Mee scored the winner in their Premier League clash with Crystal Palace. Photo: Cath Ivill/NMC/Pool
It’s a debate that looks like rolling on for a while more yet as World Rugby look to create a global calendar and have both hemispheres playing at both times, but this morning Gerry Thornley argues in his column that the idea of playing summer rugby goes against a lot of the history of the sport. The proposal has caused consternation among clubs with Leinster and Munster CEOs, Mick Dawson and Ian Flanagan, both expressing their opposition to it. “When you think of it, there’s a reason rugby has been played through the winter for the century and a half or so of its existence,” he writes. That’s not the only debate waging in rugby at the moment as the IRFU remain intent on getting players to take a 20 per cent pay cut while the players themselves and their union are fighting their corner. “Despite heated exchanges during the previous meeting, the IRFU has granted RPI access to their accounts to ensure both parties have a clear idea how much of a salary reduction the players must eventually accept,” reports Gavin Cummiskey.
On to soccer and the ongoing discussions over when the Airtricity League will return to play which, seemingly, may become clearer at the end of today. With all of the other most contentious issues – namely money, the timing of the season’s conclusion and a format and schedule that allowed for the playing of the FAI Cup – apparently resolved, the National League Executive Committee will hopefully decide on Tuesday morning which of the four format proposals to adopt for when the league restarts. In England, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester United can go the rest of the season unbeaten as his side prepare to face Brighton tonight. United made it 14 games without a loss when they saw off Norwich on Saturday and Solskjaer reckons they can maintain that good form. Meanwhile, in Germany, Irish international Claire O’Riordan is keen on securing new forward role with Duisburg next season as she becomes hard-wired into the realities of Bundesliga survival. O’Riordan’s side beat Jena 2-0 at the weekend in the final match of the campaign to maintain their top-flight status.