Sport Rugby

Saturday 24 March 2018

Compiled by Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ireland hope royal

visit whips up cyclone

Perhaps Ireland got jealous of the constant clips of Princes Harry and William at England and Wales games and went one better.

How else can you explain King Henry's presence at Celtic Manor on Wednesday night, where manager Mick Kearney rolled out the big guns to dine with the team and inspire them for the biggest game of the World Cup so far.

Henry Shefflin (above) was joined by Sonia O'Sullivan, Niall Quinn, AP McCoy and the Clones Cyclone Barry McGuigan who all dined with the team and posed for photos with the players afterwards.

"We'd a really good dinner with five Irish sporting icons," Kearney said. "They joined us for dinner at half past seven and were still chatting at a quarter past, half 10. It was a fantastic night, the players really enjoyed it."

Disquiet grows among Tier Two nations

It is almost time to bid farewell to the plucky underdogs who have lit up this tournament as, despite Japan's best efforts, it looks like being a very familiar last eight even without the hosts involved.

Joining England in exiting the World Cup will be a Fiji team who might have progressed in a different pool, a Japanese side who began with a bang but now face elimination even if they make it three wins out of four against the United States and entertaining sides like Canada and Tonga who have battled hard with little reward.

However, they're not all going quietly, with Canadian lock Jamie Cudmore claiming he had to pay for his own flight home - a claim rejected by World Rugby - and the Samoans deeply unhappy with the decision to ban Alesana Tuilagi for five weeks for leading with the knee.

It seemed excessive as it's a debatable charge, but what is undeniable is that the weaker nations have paid a heavy price at the disciplinary committee level with the vast majority of bans coming for Tier Two sides.

Although the longest suspension of all was handed out to Argentina's Mariano Galarza for his eye-gouging incident against New Zealand, it doesn't look good that Sam Burgess and Tom Wood escaped censure for their indiscretions and Michael Hooper only got a week for his no-arm clearout.

Quote of the day

'He is such a perfectionist. If you a metre light or a metre short you can hear as he tells you straight out and not nicely (laughs). He just goes mad sometimes'

- France's Bernard Le Roux explains what life's like with Johnny Sexton.

Number of the day

3 The number of drop goals scored at this year's World Cup so far, with Owen Farrell, Handre Pollard and Nicolas Sanchez successful

Compiled by Ruaidhri O'Connor

Irish Independent

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