Leinster’s Josh van der Flier: “I’ve done about seven months of gym, three or four times a week, so I’m probably the strongest I’ve ever been.” Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Camaraderie in sport occasionally reaches beyond traditional boundaries. A morning at the Santry Sports Clinic last February offered a case in point. (...)

Ulster’s Angus Kernohan scoring  a try against Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Photograph:   Richard Huggard/Inpho

Cheetahs v Ulster, Toyota stadium (6.15pm, live on Premier Sports) It has been an exceptional month for Angus Kernohan as the Ireland under-19 and U-(...)

Munster’s JJ Hanrahan: he  started the matches against the Cheetahs and Warriors at outhalf, before being replaced by Joey Carbery just after half-time in Glasgow. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Cardiff Blues v Munster, Arms Park (7.35pm, live on Eir sport, TG4) Three defeats in as many matches by a combined total of five points illustrates th(...)

Blackrock player Michelle Claffey: “It’s nice to have someone there who has coached women before and can understand where we’re coming from.” Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Whatever the future may hold, Michelle Claffey will fondly remember 2018 as a year in which she achieved some notable landmarks in her rugby career, f(...)

Jamison Gibson-Park enjoyed a huge influence on the game and was a deserved man of the match against the Dragons at the RDS. Photograph: Inpho

Leinster’s attacking shape this season will place a huge premium on the roster of scrumhalves having the requisite aerobic fitness. The traditional wi(...)

Dan McFarland: his charges have begun the new season with wins over Scarlets and Edinburgh. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Southern Kings v Ulster, Nelson Mandela Bay stadium (Sunday, 1.15pm Irish time, live on EirSport, Premier Sports) Ulster take an unbeaten start to t(...)

Head coach Leo Cullen and Leinster captain Jonathan Sexton. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Leinster v Dragons, RDS (Saturday, 5.15pm, live on TG4, EirSport, Premier Sport) Success is a pursuit demanding relentless incremental improvement. T(...)

Robbie Henshaw: “We know every opposition this year will be better, so we ourselves need to be a better team.”  Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

The rigour of preseason is best tackled with a healthy body and mind, something to which Robbie Henshaw would subscribe. By his admission for the firs(...)

Rob Kearney would like to extend his contract beyond 2019. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Rob Kearney has almost escaped the clutches of preseason purgatory. Four weeks in since returning from a summer break, the end of the hardscrabble fit(...)

Ollie Campbell: led Ireland to their first ever  Test series win (2-0) in Australia in 1979.  Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

The impending arrival of Pope Francis to Ireland on Saturday and the only previous papal visit, that of John Paul 11 in September, 1979 can be linked (...)

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