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Stewart Moore: his   silky elegance, footwork and distribution offer a different set of skills to the absent Stuart McCloskey and Ulster will need to tailor their game plan accordingly. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Northampton Saints v Ulster, Franklin’s Gardens, Sunday 3.15pm (Live on BT Sport) Robert Baloucoune returns but the absence of John Cooney, Iain Hend(...)

Connacht celebrate Bundee Aki’s match-winning score against Munster. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

After Connacht were controversially beaten 20-18 by Munster at Thomond Park in mid-October, they looked pretty much cut adrift in the Irish pool of th(...)

Connacht’s Dave McSharry offloads to Fetu’u Vainikolo to score the opening try despite the tackle of Marcelo Bosch and Aled Brew of Biarritz in December 2012. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The current academy players weren’t yet born. The younger senior players were infants. A patchwork of families, players, boys and girls called Friends(...)

Nicolás Sánchez in action for Stade Frncais. The Argentinian outhalf is a proven kicker and strong distributor. Photograph:  Gaizka Iroz/AFP via Getty Images

Champions Cup Pool B : Connacht v Stade Francais, Sportsground, Sunday, 1pm – Live on BT Sport First-time visitors to the Galway Sportsground, Stade(...)

Toulouse’s Pita Ahki is spayed with champagne by team-mate and captain Antoine Dupont after the victory over La Rochelle in the Heineken Champions Cup Final at  Twickenham in May. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

The Heineken Champions Cup returns if not with its customary bang, then with a good deal more than a whimper as well, not least hereabouts. Not for th(...)

Oisín Dowling in action for Connacht against Ospreys at the Sportsground. He is hoping to play his first Champions Cup game this weekend against Stade Francais. Photograph: Ben Brady/Inpho

It might seem glaringly self-evident but for rugby player, Oisín Dowling, playing the game has been his key motivation in recent years. It triggered t(...)

Josh van der Flier was named player of the match during Leinster’s recent win over Connacht. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

What on earth has happened with Josh van der Flier? Even with that red cap he seems to be more prominent than ever. And it’s not just the voracious wo(...)

Connacht’s Jack Carty in action against Ospreys in the  Sportsground, Galway on November  26th. Photograph: Ben Brady/Inpho

Leinster v Connacht,  RDS, Friday, 7.45pm - Live TG4 and Premier Sports Lightning, goes the saying, tends not to strike twice, and Leinster tend(...)

Shayne Bolton at Connacht rugby squad training  in Galway. Photograph:   ©INPHO/James Crombie

United Rugby Championship: Connacht v Ospreys Kick-off: 7.35pm, Friday. Venue: Sportsground, Galway. On TV: Live on RTÉ 2, Premier Sports. It’s been(...)

Jack Carty has noticec the Conacht and Ireland styles of play becoming more similar. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Jack Carty has a point to prove when Connacht return to URC action on Friday night against the visiting Ospreys at the Galway Sportsground. Although (...)

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