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Andy Friend: ‘We’re proud of what we’re doing here, there’s opportunity for people to come down here, but certainly I don’t think it should be seen as a B-grade option for players.’ Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Connacht’s ability to secure a win over the Dragons this weekend is much more than about points on the URC table, but an opportunity to change percept(...)

Denis Leamy has already started in his new role as Leinster’s contact skills coach. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The former Munster and Ireland backrow Denis Leamy has been appointed as Leinster’s new contact skills coach, succeeding Hugh Hogan who took up a role(...)

 Janko Swanepoel and his Bulls team-mates look dejected after the 31-3 defeat to Leinster at the Aviva Stadium. The game was more competitive than the final scoreline indicates. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

So far then, perhaps not so good. The arrival of the four South African franchises into the United Rugby Championship has proved a more humbling exerc(...)

 Mikey Kiely: ‘We would hope we wouldn’t come up against anyone that would play at a higher intensity.’ Photograph:  Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Ever evolving rugby, shifting ambition and the long journey north along the M7 towards Ravenhill Road was more than just an interesting change of gear(...)

Josh van der Flier: was in impressive form during last week’s victory over the Bulls at the Aviva Stadium. He makes his 100th start for the province against the Dragons. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Dragons v Leinster, Rodney Parade, Newport. Kick-off: Sunday, 2pm. On TV: Live on RTÉ 2, Premier Sports 1 and URC TV. The four-in-a-row reigning cha(...)

Keith Earls at Munster Rugby Squad Training in  UL, Limerick. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

MUNSTER v STORMERS Venue: Thomond Park, Limerick Kick-off: 7.35pm On TV: Live on RTÉ 2, Premier Sports 2 and URC TV Reflecting their surfeit of outsi(...)

Madosh Tambwe of the Bulls is tackled by Leinster’s Ryan Baird during the United Rugby Championship match at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph:  Billy Stickland/Inpho

The South Africans received warm welcomes off the pitch, and even hotter ones on it, in an introduction to the United Rugby Championship which didn’t (...)

Leinster’s Josh van der Flier on his way to scoring the first try of the game against the Bulls in the United Rugby Championship match at the  Aviva Stadium on Saturday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Leinster 31 Bulls 3 It was almost like they’d never been away. Despite the rustiness that comes with a lengthy lay-off, with several of this line-up (...)

Munster’s Simon Zebo during his team’s United Rugby Championship opener at Thomond Park. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Munster 42 Sharks 17 All the pent-up frustration of the past 18 months evaporated in the Limerick night air as Munster got their United Rugby Champio(...)

Leinster’s Josh van der Flier celebrates scoring the first try of the game. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Leinster 31 Bulls 3 The seasons come and go, and the league has another makeover in the guise of the United Rugby Championship, but some things stay (...)

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