Sports stars rally around Naomi Osaka; Gerry Thornley on captain’s challenge

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

Naomi Osaka announced her withdrawal from the French Open on Monday. Photo: Pete Kiehart/The New York Times

Naomi Osaka announced her withdrawal from the French Open on Monday. Photo: Pete Kiehart/The New York Times

Starting with tennis this morning and Naomi Osaka’s decision to withdraw from the French Open yesterday came as a surprise to many but the Japanese star outlined in a statement just how much she has been struggling with her mental health over the last few years. After announcing earlier in the week that she would not be undertaking any media duties during the tournament, the four-time Grand Slam winner came in for quite a bit of criticism but since her announcement and her statement on Monday, numerous other tennis players and stars of other sports have rallied around her.

Moving on and the discussion about how much time a rugby match is now taking with scrums being reset, decisions going to the TMO and so on is one that has had plenty of air time. In his column this morning Gerry Thornley argues that the latest need for a stoppage - the captain’s challenge which is being trialled during the Rainbow Cup - is just one too many. “Last Friday evening, in the final match of the season at Thomond Park, Cardiff restarted the game after Keynan Knox’s converted try had put Munster 31-27 ahead. There were four minutes and 25 seconds remaining. Just over 14 minutes later, referee Andrew Brace blew the full-time whistle. Yes, 14 minutes,” he writes. Meanwhile, the life of a rugby journeyman is by no means easy with big hits and small paycheques the order of the day. Shane O’Leary is one man who knows all too well about the life of a rugby troubadour with his latest stop coming at Rouen Normandie in the French ProD2. This morning he talks to John O’Sullivan about the realities of making a living away from the highest level.

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