Gordon D’Arcy issues warning on Springbok additions, Kenny names Ireland squad

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

Jose Mourinho and Frank Lampard in conversation on the touchline during Tottenham’s shootout win over Chelsea. Photograph: Neil Hall/PA

Jose Mourinho and Frank Lampard in conversation on the touchline during Tottenham’s shootout win over Chelsea. Photograph: Neil Hall/PA

Four South African franchises - the Bulls, Lions Stormers, and Sharks - look set to join the Pro14, after a SARU General Meeting yesterday voted to explore the possibility of them joining the competition. Their arrival could come as early as March next year, which would mean this year’s league is abbreviated before the tournament becomes rebranded and reconfigured as the Pro16. In his column this morning Gordon D’Arcy has suggested if the South African heavyweights move north, “the game will never be the same again.” And not necessarily in a good way. He writes: “Here we are, at the precipice, the point of no return for our 25-year-old professional sport. Once the South Africans enter the Pro14 everyone must jump off the cliff together. Only the strongest will survive.”

Stephen Kenny announced his Ireland squad for next week’s crunch Euro2020 play-off away to Slovakia yesterday, with Jack Byrne returning to the fold. And Ireland boss Kenny has pointed to the form of West Brom’s Callum Robinson, and regular game time for Shane Duffy at Celtic, as reasons to be positive: “The reason I see the move to Celtic as being advantageous is that they will certainly defend with a higher line and that is what we need; practice in that.” Elsewhere, in last night’s sole League of Ireland fixture Sligo Rovers beat Derry City 1-0.

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