Saturday 18 August 2018

Neil Francis

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

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.

Ireland's Garry Ringrose, left, and Joey Carbery

Neil Francis: Warren Gatland will regret omitting Irish pair when All Blacks' pace and guile rout Lions 

I had the pleasure of listening to Senator George Mitchell at a bash in the National Gallery in Dublin on Wednesday night. One of the points he focused on was expectation. He used the analogy of the wedding night of Elizabeth Taylor and her sixth husband. The groom would almost assuredly know what to do; the difficulty would be in making it interesting or exciting. The Lions travel to New...

Leinster’s Fergus McFadden celebrates with team-mates Joey Carbery, Robbie Henshaw and Josh van der Flier. Photo: Sportsfile

Neil Francis: When Leinster play like this, nobody will beat them 

And so the final score read Ireland 32 Wasps 17. The green-print put into practice by Leinster's Ireland players and executed for 55 minutes. The fact that Wasps had a chance midway through the second half was down to some of Leinster's failings, mental failings which will not be tolerated in a semi-final. For a club with such pedigree, Wasps looked like they were overawed by the occasion and when they couldn't hold on to the ball for any more than three phases at a time in the first half, their fate was sealed.

CARDIFF, WALES - MARCH 10: Joe Schmidt the head coach of Ireland takes part in the pre match warm up prior to kickoff during the Six Nations match between Wales and Ireland at the Principality Stadium on March 10, 2017 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Neil Francis: Ireland need to be a lot more inventive from 10 metres out - that's Joe's job for the summer 

It's a pretty thankless task trying to unravel the contradiction that is the French. It is hard to know how you calibrate or cultivate the type of vacuous mediocrity that the French rugby team have meandered into. After eventually getting over the line against a determined Welsh rearguard, you would have thought they had all won the lotto when the final whistle blew - it did blow, didn't...