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‘Anyone not on the pitch feels they can add something’: Murphy fresh and ready to make history in Port Elizabeth

IT’S “MAKE OR break” time for Ireland against the Springboks this weekend, says Jordi Murphy. The Leinster flanker has returned to the fold having sat out the frenetic 32-26 defeat at Ellis Park with Rhys Ruddock assuming the openside duties in Johannesburg. Murphy ​has been​ reunited with CJ Stander and Jamie Heaslip in the Irish back row after the trio were selected en bloc for the opening Test at Newlands. Murphy and Heaslip put in huge…

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Scotland international and Welsh centre’s brother make Team GB squad for Rio sevens

JAMES DAVIES, BROTHER of Wales centre Jonathan Davies, and Scotland international Mark Bennett have made Team GB’s 12-man sevens squad for next month’s Rio Olympics. Davies, who is contracted to Scarlets, is one of three Welshmen selected in coach Simon Amor’s squad alongside Bennett, of the Glasgow Warriors, and eight Englishmen. Amor picked his 12 representatives, and two reserves, from an initial panel of 27, with four of the 12 plying their trade in the…

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‘The time is now right’: Townsend to replace Cotter in Scotland job next summer

GREGOR TOWNSEND WILL replace Vern Cotter as the head coach of the Scotland national side at the end of the 2016/17 season, the Scottish Rugby Union announced  today. Cotter’s contract expires in June 2017 and the SRU has now made public its intention to install former international Townsend into the role when his current deal as head coach of the Glasgow Warriors ends at the same time. “Gregor’s abilities as a head coach are evident…

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All Black Piutau among three debutants in Ulster side

ALL BLACK UTILITY back Charles Piutau will make his Ulster debut in their Pro12 opener against Newport Gwent Dragons at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast tomorrow night (7.35pm). Piutau, who has played 16 times for New Zealand but failed to make the squad for last year’s Rugby World Cup success, is one of three debutants in Les Kiss’ side. Academy prop Ross Kane and former Bath and England under-18 fly-half Brett Herron will also make their first…

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‘England should have at least 15 in Lions squad’

ENGLAND HEAD COACH Eddie Jones expects “at least 15″ of his players to be selected for Warren Gatland’s British and Irish Lions squad that tours New Zealand in 2017. Following Jones’ appointment as the successor to Stuart Lancaster, in the wake of a woeful Rugby World Cup campaign on home soil last year, England have enjoyed a swift upturn in fortunes. A first Six Nations Grand Slam in 13 years marked an excellent start to…

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Heeeeeeeere’s Johnny! Sexton named for first Leinster start of the season

JOHNNY SEXTON WILL make his first appearance of the Pro12 season when Leinster host the table-topping Ospreys on Friday evening (7.35pm, TG4). The out-half has been out of action since undergoing shoulder surgery in June and missed Ireland’s tour of South Africa as well as the start of the new campaign. But he returns as one of six changes made by Leo Cullen for the clash in the RDS. Scrum-half Luke McGrath starts alongside Sexton…

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‘Unacceptable’ – Sale prop Pope banned after second failed drugs test

SALE SHARKS PROP Jake Pope has been banned for six months after his second failed drugs test. The 21-year-old received a fixed fine of £1,000 in 2017 after a test showed the presence of cocaine in his system. And now Pope has become the first player to breach the Rugby Football Union’s policy on recreational drugs for a second time. Pope failed another test in November of last year, this time for cannabis and cocaine, and…

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Ulster primed for Connacht clash after big strides since rare home defeat

Sean Farrell reports from Kingspan Stadium WHILE THE MAKEUP of the teams will rightly temper celebrations, yesterday’s win over Leinster was an important step for Ulster. Tom O’Toole does the bear-hugging rounds post-match. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO Next weekend, with Glasgow awaiting in the semis, they face a crucial inter-provincial clash at home to Connacht. And even if you were to overlook the Westerners’ first win in Belfast since Michael D Higgins was an ebullient teen,…

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England flanker Haskell announces retirement after injury-ravaged season

ENGLAND FLANKER JAMES Haskell will retire at the end of the season, his club Northampton Saints have announced. Haskell joined the Saints from Wasps last year but has endured an injury-plagued campaign, playing only four times and prompting a decision to call time on his career. The 34-year-old has 77 England caps and played at the last two Rugby World Cups, while he also featured in the Top 14 and Super Rugby at club level.…

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