FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi  reserves the “first minutes” of each match for interpretation, says coach Ernesto Valverde, ignoring the ball and taking a reconnaissance walk around the opposition defence, fixing each man’s position in his head before trying to capitalise later in the game on perceived weaknesses.  Photograph: Rodrigo Jimenez?EPA

A little man in a baseball cap, sitting high in his luxury crossover SUV, drives into the players’ parking lot at FC Barcelona’s closed training groun(...)

Connacht’s Bundee Aki scores a try in Murrayfield: Saturday’s final  will be a birth of sorts for Connacht’s Green Army. Photograph: Russell Cheyne/Inpho

The Guinness Pro12 can dress it up any way it likes but whatever about deciding on a “neutral” venue at the start of the season, the choice of Murray(...)

 Sky, 39 per cent owned by Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox and synonymous with top-level English soccer,  says it will  pay for the new contract by finding savings elsewhere and setting limited price rises for customers. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

Britain’s dominant pay-TV firm Sky is counting the cost of its record bid to retain the rights for top-flight English soccer, with a falling share pri(...)

Premier Rugby chairman Quentin Smith with  Gloucester captain Jacob Rowan. Smith declared “there will no longer be a need for it” in reference to ERC, in branding the Dublin-based organisers of the Heineken Cup as “no longer fit for purpose”. Now EPCR have been obliged to subcontract the running of the inaugural tournament to around 16 or 17 staff from the ERC. Photo: David Rogers/Getty

Some three weeks or so later than was normally the case with the Heineken Cup, the allotment of pool weekends along with the dates, kick-off times and(...)

 Toulon’s Bryan Habana is tackled by Munster’s Simon Zebo during the Heineken Cup semi-final. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

For the Irish provinces, April is indeed becoming the cruellest month. Ulster, Leinster and latterly Munster all bade adieu to the Heineken Cup(...)