Sunday 20 January 2019

Neil Francis

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Head coach Leo Cullen. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Neil Francis: Scarlets and Wayne Pivac know how to trouble Leinster 

On the final day of Champions Cup pool matches this year, everyone connected to their team would have been doing a little bit of mental and logistical arithmetic. Who would your team get? Where would they go? Toulon away? Phew! Clermont away? Jeez no! Saracens at the Allianz - wow. Even La Rochelle away - that is not somewhere where you get out of alive in a rugby sense, kind of like a Helmand province with a picturesque harbour and some nice restaurants outside the ground.

Stock photo

Neil Francis: It's my belief that upwards of 20 players have taken some form of PED in Irish provinces over the last 30 years 

Cooperstown is where they go to be venerated. It is a quaint little village in Otsego County, New York, where the baseball Hall of Fame is located. The game of baseball decided there needed to be a place to pay homage to 'the best of us'. The majority of its inductees are a shining beacon of athletic righteousness and forthright character, underpinned by a proper code of values and...

Iain Henderson is tackled by Damian de Allende. Photo: Sportsfile

Neil Francis - There is a clear reason why World Rugby want South Africa to host the 2023 World Cup... and it's not money 

A strangely soul-less game in the Aviva yesterday. South Africa, a proud rugby nation, have a rich heritage in the game, but were clueless to the point of being lamentable. The limited nature of their game will rubber-stamp their descent into becoming a minor rugby nation. At no stage did they look like they would threaten Ireland's line, and their resolve and conviction was broken well before...

Bundee Aki will make his Ireland debut against South Africa this weekend

Neil Francis: Guaranteed Irish logo should apply to players too 

Finicky bunch that lot on Twitter, a few of them branding me racist for taking a hard line on something I feel strongly about. The fervent wish that anyone who represents Ireland at any sport at international level be Irish. A simple constitution - born here, raised here, or a passport holder or son, daughter or grandchild of Irish parents or grandparents. An authentic connection to the island irrespective of creed, code or colour. Is that too much to ask for?

British and Irish Lions' Sam Warburton and New Zealand's Kieran Read lift the Series Trophy after the series is drawn during the third test of the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour at Eden Park, Auckland. Photo: PA Wire

Neil Francis: Rejoice! Beating the odds in NZ a cause for celebration 

If you are looking for direction or wondering how you should feel this morning after the series was drawn yesterday - rejoice! The All Blacks expected to win the series 3-0 - be happy! The All Blacks should have won yesterday but regressed due to a feral combination of courage and resilience from their opponents - celebrate! The All Blacks have not lost a Test match in Eden Park since 1994, so a draw there is just cause to be happy.