Ireland need to follow England’s 2003 example; The Champions League returns tonight

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

The Tottenham Hotspur team during a training session in Dortmund. Photograph: Maja Hitij/Getty Images

The Tottenham Hotspur team during a training session in Dortmund. Photograph: Maja Hitij/Getty Images

The first two of this year’s Champions League quarter-finalists will be decided tonight, with Spurs looking well set to take one of those spots. Mauricio Pochettino’s team carry a 3-0 lead into their last-16 second leg in Dortmund, and they’ll know that they face a test of their professionalism and, moreover, their manager appears in need of a tonic. In the night’s other fixture Real Madrid host Ajax who trail 2-1 on aggregate. Last night in the League of Ireland, Shamrock Rovers barely broke into a sweat in a 3-0 win over Finn Harps to go top of the Premier Division.

In his column this morning, Gerry Thornley explains that Ireland may need to follow England’s 2003 example for this year’s Rugby World Cup. The French team to play Ireland this weekend in the penultimate round of the Six Nations is expected to be announced this morning. Yesterday evening it was revealed that Wales’ two most successful professional sides – Ospreys and Scarlets – are poised to merge for as soon as the start of next season.

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