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Fan tragedy in Africa Cup of Nations; Shot in the arm for Champions Cup

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

Reports of tragedy at yesterday's Africa Cup of Nations action have been confirmed overnight after Cameroonian officials announced the death of six people following a stampede at the host nation's clash with the Comoros Islands. 40 people are said to be injured while one Cameroonian official has reportedly anticipated that the death toll could well be higher. Investigations into what caused the tragic incident are ongoing.

Closer to home, Gerry Thornley in his column this morning writes about how the past weekend's Champions Cup action was just the shot in the arm that the tournament needed. After a Covid-curtailed pool stage threatened to wreck the competition's credibility, the endless qualification permutations plus much flee-flowing rugby created quite the spectacle with an average of 65 points being scored per match. Owen Doyle provides us with his weekly referee watch and like many, he was not impressed with Mike Adamson's performance on Friday night at the Twickenham Stoop. Adamson controversially awarded 'Quins a last play try that allowed them to beat Castres despite an apparent lack of conclusive footage. In international action, England's injury woes continue to mount.  After it was confirmed that Owen Farrell would miss the Six Nations opener, Jonny May has also been ruled out while suspected stand-in captain Courtney Lawes has also emerged as a worry.

Tipperary football boss David Power has been speaking about his side's dramatic slide from 2020 Munster champions to competing in division four in the upcoming league campaign. To compound the downturn in fortunes, players have not been able to celebrate that success since due to Covid. Medals have not yet been received while the cup wasn't able to be paraded around the county's schools, denying an important opportunity to promote the game. In hurling news, it emerged yesterday that ex-Ireland rugby international Gordon D'Arcy has joined the likes of boxing coach Billy Walsh in taking up a position on Wexford's backroom staff.

Leona Maguire starts her season this Thursday in Gainbridge, but the Cavan golfer is adamant that breaking her winning duck is not at the forefront of her mind: "There's not anything there about winning tournaments or winning Majors or anything like that. That's stuff that's outside my control. If that happens, fantastic; but that won't be the primary focus of my goals, it never has been." In tennis, Australian Open tournament organisers have clarified their position on how they bizarrely ejected a fan wearing a Peng Shuai T-shirt, saying people are welcome to wear what they like so long as they don't cause disruption to the tournament.