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Nucifora failing to read the room on sevens; Irish Open at K Club worth €50 million

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

The consensus view in the Irish rugby community seems to be that the overlap of players between women's 15s and sevens has reached breaking point. That is, everyone holds this view apart from the one man that matters, David Nucifora, for the moment at least. Ireland were denied the entirety of their starting backline apart from the halfbacks against England last Sunday, and while their presence may have aided only the lopsided nature of the scoreline rather than the result itself, their absence reveals a different issue. Gerry Thornley today looks at how the event they are preparing for instead of the Six Nations, the Langford Sevens in Canada, isn't all that important in the grand scheme of the sevens season, and at how Nucifora et al are failing to read the room when it comes to sevens' ability to capture the Irish rugby public. Meanwhile over in South Africa, Leo Cullen has been speaking about the importance of Leinster securing top spot in the URC and home comforts all the way to the final as a result should they make it that far.

Bad news on the doorstep meant that the opening round of the football championship got off to an inauspicious start off the pitch, showing the GAA's usual inability to launch the country's biggest sporting tournament proficiently, according to Kevin McStay at least. Between teams reaching league finals that they did not want to win, the rolling stand-off between the GPA and the GAA and the refusal of the players to engage with the media, the Páirc Uí Chaoimh and Ed Sheeran fiasco and the Donegal-Armagh fall out and a sense of a disciplinary process which satisfies nobody, the sport needed some good action on the pitch to distract from the issues off it. That's exactly what we got in Galway's win over Mayo. Up in Ulster, Donegal's Ryan McHugh has been speaking about his side's upcoming clash with Cavan.

Leeds secured an important point in a goalless draw away to Crystal Palace in last night's lone Premier League action. The result now leaves them five points above the relegation spots. Meanwhile tonight in the Champions League, Manchester City take on Real Madrid in a much-anticipated semi-final clash. For all of Madrid's star power and history in this competition, City's Kevin de Bruyne is the closest they have to a genuine superstar, but it begs the question, is the Belgian rated as highly in Europe as he is in England?

The return of the Irish Open to The K Club could be worth as much as €50 million over the course of the new six-year sponsorship agreement. John O'Sullivan reports that the tournament may even regain its status as a Rolex event and be co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour. Meanwhile in other local club news, YMCA Cricket Club in Sandymount has returned to its home in Claremont Road after a year-long absence caused by the prospective sale of the ground. A sale looks set to go ahead now, but the club is not the preferred bidder. In the past, Lansdowne RFC has engaged with the cricket club over a ground-sharing agreement though the successful bidder has yet to be announced by the Dublin YMCA charity, owners of the site.

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