Ireland

Fiji focused on Covid after Ireland cancels rugby tour

Ireland had been scheduled to play two tests in Fiji and one test against Tonga during the July international window.

The trip was already in doubt because of the ongoing border restrictions around the world, which would have required players to quarantine for two weeks on arrival in Fiji.

On Friday the Ireland Rugby Football Union confirmed the tour was off, saying the "recent Covid outbreak and subsequent lockdown in Fiji" had increased the level of risk and it was no longer viable to proceed with the planned tour.

France beat Ireland, edge closer to Six Nations title

Les Bleus, back in the mix since Galthie took over last year, scored a try through Charles Ollivon on their first incursion and defended stoutly in a tense finale to snatch their second win in two games in this year's championship.

France, who host the 2023 World Cup, top the standings with nine points, ahead of Wales on goal difference with England in third place three points adrift.

"We were prepared to win the game, we won the game. It was our objective. That's it," Galthie, who has led France to nine victories in 11 games, told a news conference.

Injury setbacks for Ireland

Sexton and Ryan, two of Farrell's most important players, were replaced due to suspected concussions during last week's opening 21-16 loss to Wales.

Ireland played most of the game with 14 men following Peter O'Mahony's 14th minute red card.

Billy Burns will win just his fifth cap in place of Sexton, while Ulster's Iain Henderson will fill the big hole left by Ryan and will captain the side for the first time.

Former Blues and Hurricanes halfback Jamison Gibson-Park will start at nine in place of Murray, who injured his hamstring in training.

     

Wales ease pressure on Wayne Pivac

Wales played with an extra man for 66 minutes after Ireland flanker Peter O'Mahony received a deserved early red card, but trailed 13-6 at halftime as they offered little in terms of creativity and quality in the opening period.

But as Ireland tired with their numerical disadvantage, Wales found space in the visitors' 22, and centre North and wing Rees-Zammit crossed for tries, to go with three penalties and a conversion from fullback Leigh Halfpenny.

Former Chiefs winger James Lowe returns for Ireland for Six Nations debut against Wales

Lowe made a try-scoring debut against Wales in November after the New Zealander qualified for Ireland on a three-year residency. The former Chiefs winger struggled more in the loss to England the following week then injured his groin in training and hasn’t played since.

He was selected on Friday (Saturday NZ time) ahead of Jordan Larmour, who was in the reserves after missing the autumn tests with a dislocated shoulder.

“James is a great player who is right for this game,” Ireland coach Andy Farrell said. “He has been in great form in training.”

England too good for Ireland

England top the group A standings with nine points with one game remaining away to Wales next week and remain on course for a potential competition decider at home against France or Scotland, who meet tomorrow.

It was something of a strange performance from England, who were always in control but barely fired an attacking shot in the second half, seemingly content to display their admittedly impressive defensive organisation and aggression as Ireland banged away in midfield.

Ireland at 'tipping point' as COVID-19 cases rise

Irish Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said: "We are at a tipping point."

He added that a few weeks ago there were just 61 new reported cases for a seven day period but last week there were 533 cases.

The tightening of restrictions comes ahead of the reopening of schools over the next two weeks.

Taoiseach (Irish PM) Mícheál Martin said that if the current rates of COVID-19 continue to rise "it will be impossible to stop the spread of the virus to our most vulnerable and our most compromised".

TikTok to open $500m data centre in Ireland

It will store videos, messages and other data generated by European users from the short-form video-sharing app.

Until now all of its users' records were stored in the US, with a back-up copy held in Singapore.

The announcement comes at a time when President Trump has threatened to ban the app in the US on the grounds its Chinese ownership makes it a national security risk.

TikTok's Beijing-based parent company Bytedance denies the charge. However, it is in talks to sell its US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand operations to Microsoft.

     

Rugby Australia CEO admits July series with Ireland 'highly unlikely' to go ahead

The Wallabies are set to take on Andy Farrell’s Ireland in Brisbane on July 4 and Sydney on July 11, before playing Fiji in Townsville on July 18.

Yet with the global rugby calendar facing huge uncertainty as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, those games look set to be postponed, or even cancelled.

Rugby Australia held their annual general meeting on Monday, where they revealed a $9.4 million operating deficit for the World Cup year of 2019.

Six Nations over for Ireland prop Healy

The Leinster stalwart was withdrawn after suffering the blow during a 24-12 defeat to England at Twickenham on Sunday

Healy has been ruled out of the clash with Italy at the Aviva Stadium on March 7 and will not face leaders France in Paris on the final day of the tournament.

Pro14 champions Leinster will be hoping the 32-year-old is available for a European Champions Cup quarter-final against holders Saracens in Dublin on April 4.

Healy will have to wait to bring up a century of caps, with his appearance against England taking him to 98.