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rugby world cup

Rugby star Paul O'Connell is bowing out of the sport for good, he confirmed this morning.

Having sustained a severe hamstring injury playing for Ireland during last October's Rugby World Cup match against France, he announced his retirement today "with deep regret."

The former Irish captain had hoped to kick off a new playing career with French club Toulon this season, but with his recovery taking longer than anticipated, he has been forced to cancel his contract without playing a game,

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank all at Rugby Club Toulonnais for their understanding and support over the past few months," O'Connell said in a statement today.
 
"Since sustaining the injury at the World Cup I have been fully focused on returning to fitness and starting an exciting new chapter for both myself and my family in Toulon. 

"Unfortunately this will no longer be possible. I have been blessed to be a professional rugby player for over 14 years and to be part of Munster and Ireland teams that have experienced success. 

"I have played with some of the best players to ever line out in the red of Munster and the green of Ireland and have had the privilege of captaining my country.

"Special thanks must go to my wife Emily for her unwavering support through the good and the bad and to my parents Michael and Shelagh.
 
"Lastly I would like to thank everyone who has supported the teams I have been a part of. The support you have shown me is humbling and an immense source of pride for both myself and my family."

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On the back of its successful coverage of the Rugby World Cup, TV3 has now also secured the rights to the 6 Nations contest from 2018 until 2021 – nabbing the deal from RTÉ.

It's a major coup for independent broadcaster – and a serious blow for Montrose.

CEO of 6 Nations Rugby John Feehan said today: "TV3's coverage of Rugby World Cup was very successful and we believe that they will inject new and exciting ideas in the broadcasting of the 6 Nations Championship."

The sporting competition will still be broadcast on RTÉ next year and in 2017 while the current contract runs out. 

In a statement, RTÉ admitted the news was "extremely disappointing".

"We have a long and proud tradition of showcasing the 6 Nations and putting our heart and soul into our coverage.

"We want to assure the Irish public that every possible effort was made by RTÉ to retain these rights."

Rugby remains a hugely popular spectacle in this country: over the last two years viewership in Ireland has averaged more than 400,000 per 6 Nations match.

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Having not one but TWO teams playing in a Rugby World Cup final is something us Irish folks can't really relate to, but for poor Annabelle it's a very real problem.

The youngster lives in Australia, but her mum Andrea Gatchell is a New Zealander, meaning she'll have to shout for both teams in today's RWC final clash.

Poor Annabelle… #thestruggleisreal#goallblacks #undecidedannabelle

Posted by Andrea Gatchell on Thursday, 29 October 2015

Choosing a favourite turned out to be a bit too much pressure for Annabelle yesterday, and her tearful meltdown has gone viral since her mum shared it on Facebook.

"'I really want to go for New Zealand but if Australia lose I'll be really sad … and if I go for Australia, you'll be really sad because you're a New Zealander," she says through her tears.

And when her mum asks who she would prefer to win all she can say is, "I don't KNOW."

Our heart goes out to little Annabelle… but she'll no doubt be celebrating no matter who wins.

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In the end, it just wasn't meant to be: Ireland have been beaten by an inspired Argentine team in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.

The score? A resounding 43-20.

Though with so many influential players – Paul O'Connell, Sean O'Brien, Johnny Sexton, and Peter O'Mahony – missing from today's game, ultimately Ireland were beaten by the better team on the day.

And the Boys In Green didn't make things easy for themselves from the outset either. They never lead the game and within 13 minutes were trailing by 17 points.

Still, they went into the dressing room a more reasonable 20-10 down following a fantastic try by Luke Fitzgerald. 

Jodi Murphy along with an Ian Henderson conversion had Ireland within three-points of their rivals, but by the end, Argentina had stormed home with two more tries to really seal the deal. 

They now face either Scotland or Australia in the semi-final.

Despite being currently ranked third in the world – with a high of a second-place position also attained earlier this year – it seems that the squad struggle to produce their best rugby at world cup level, and once again have failed to progress into the final four.

In four years' time, Ireland will travel to Japan for the 2019 contest – where they will hope they can finally break that pattern. 

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Today is the day that Irish rugby fans the world over have been looking forward to, as the lads in green prepared to do take on Argentina in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final.

While candles are being lit up and down the country as the team face a very difficult challenege, one well-known department store took a photo sure to boost everyone's spirits. 

While there have been thousands of tweets sent out in support of the team before the match, and even more priceless reactions during the game, this is possibly our favourite. 

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It looks the Irish rugby team will have a very special person on their side today as they take on Argentina in the quarter-final clash.

We are all feeling confident that the team won’t let us down, despite being hampered by some injuries. However, it doesn’t hurt to have a little bit of magic on our side either.

 

Harry Potter author JK Rowling took to Twitter to reveal that she will be rooting for the boys in green against Argentina.

After it was confirmed that Johnny Sexton would not be joining the squad, the news of the Harry Potter creator’s support brought a smile to many faces.

Unfortunately Johnny has not recovered from a groin injury he sustained in the match against France last week.

Ian Madigan will instead be taking his place on the team for today’s match.

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Paul O’Connell is set to make his return to the Irish camp ahead of Sunday’s World Cup quarter-final against Argentina.

Wait, what?

Before you get too excited, it is most important to note that the Irish team captain is not actually going to be playing any rugby.  Instead, the Limerick man will offer his vast experience and leadership skills to the team.

A mere 24 hours after going under the knife to treat his tournament ending hamstring injury, because that is how Paulie does things.

Team manager Michael Kearney has said that the nation's favourite redhead had remained very involved in the team’s preparations before he set off for London to undergo surgery.

“Paul came back into camp on Monday and spent the first couple of days in camp – he was in good form and was contributing to the meetings."

"He left for London this morning where he is having an operation later today and we are hopeful that Paul will rejoin us back here in Cardiff either tomorrow evening or on Saturday.”

The Irish Times reports that Paul said to be bitterly disappointed in having his World Cup appearance cut short- as were the emotional rugby fans up and down the country.

In the mean time, Keith Earls and Johnny Sexton are expected to train on Friday. No decision has been made on whether or not to appeal Sean O’Brien’s one week ban for striking Pascal Pape.

“Keith Earls first of all, he sat out training on Tuesday, basically we’re just managing his load – but he will train fully tomorrow,” added Kearney.

He said it "took the guts of seven hours" in order to go through all the evidence. He said that they are "reflecting" on the written report before any further decisions are made.

2015 Rugby World Cup

Kearney added that the team are incredibly grateful for the support of the fans. He said the atmosphere in in the Millennium stadium was like having a “16th man”.

“I don’t think anyone has ever heard Ireland’s call sung with such passion and gusto it really was spine tingling."

Good to know all those vocal exercises are paying off- even if we are just roaring at a TV screen.

 

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Paul O'Connell's World Cup bid is sadly over, with surgery for a hamstring injury ruling him out of any future games.

Mike McCarthy will replace the Irish captain, making him the second Leinster player in two days to be called up to the World Cup squad.

O'Connell was taken off just before half time during Sunday's clash against France, and was due for a scan yesterday. The IRFU this morning confirmed that he would not be returning to the squad.

Speaking immediately after the match, Ireland's head coach Joe Schmidt admitted things didn't "look great" for Paul, who was administered oxygen before being stretchered off the pitch while in visible pain.

Also out of the World Cup is Peter O'Mahony, who suffered knee ligament damage during Sunday's game. He'll be replaced by Leinster backrow Rhys Ruddock.

Even with the loss of numerous players during Sunday's game, Ireland are now top of their pool after a 24-9 victory over France.

However it's a triple whammy of bad news this morning as Sean O'Brien is set to miss out on at least one World Cup game for disciplinary reasons.

Despite later being named as man of the match, O'Brien was cited for striking French player Pascal Pape in the early stages of Sunday's game.

The minimum suspension for striking is a generally two-week ban, but it's hoped this will be lowered due to O'Brien's good disciplinary record.

However at the very least he will be absent for this Sunday's clash with Argentina.

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It was the image that summed up so much for Irish rugby fans: substitute out-half Ian Madigan shedding tears of joy, pure emotion – and of relief – as the final whistle sounded at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. 

Rising to the challenge when star-player Johnny Sexton limped off the pitch with just 25 minutes played, the Leinster-man had certainly performed when his teammates – and his country – needed him. 

And although we've yet to play our quarter-final game (against Argentina – and taking place next Sunday), the Boys In Green have already given us plenty of reasons to be proud. 

Indeed, with much of the country still preoccupied with 26-year-old Ian's performance – as well as that outpouring of emotion – the man-of-the-hour himself has taken to Instagram to reveal just what prompted the sobs.

"Incredible support from home and in the Millennium yesterday," he began – before tellingly adding: "Seeing mum and dad got the better of me at the end."

He furthermore included two playful emojis – a crying face and a baby.

 

Incredible support from home and in the Millennium yesterday. Seeing mum and dad got the better of me at the end

A photo posted by Ian Madigan (@ian.madigan) on

His fans were firmly on his side, however. "Fantastic game! Who'd blame you? I was a blubbering mess meself! Bawling in the middle of the pub haha! Well done Mads," said one.

"You did us all proud yesterday Ian, amazing performance, well done!!" stated another, while a third wrote: "What a superstar!! Congrats Ian a huge performance! So deserved."

Meanwhile, there was further good news for the Irish team today: the squad moved up to No.3 in the world, just behind New Zealand and Australia respectively.

Our quarter-final foes Argentina slot in at No.6, with England, Scotland, and new-entrants Japan occupying the eighth, ninth, and 10th spots.

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The Irish rugby squad topped the World Cup pool yesterday with a 24-9 victory over France, but the prognosis isn't good for some of their best players.

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has admitted that it "doesn't look great" for Paul O'Connell, who was taken off just before half-time with a hamstring injury.

Jonathan Sexton was also taken off at the 25-minute mark with a suspected abductor tear, while Peter O'Mahony ended up with a twisted knee later in the second half.

O'Connell was given oxygen and stretchered off the pitch, clearly in extreme pain, with many speculating his World Cup bid could be over.

"It looks like an upper hamstring. He was in over the ball and just got hit down and through," Schmidt said at a post-match conference, admitting he didn't think the captain's chances were too good.

“For him not to get up and into the defensive line when we were under pressure…. That’s why it doesn’t augur well for next week.

"You just never say never with Paul, so we’re just going to cross our fingers for the next 24 hours."

O'Connell is due to have a scan today once some of the swelling on his injury has gone down, with a definite decision to be made tomorrow.

The 35-year-old played his last game on Irish soil at the end of August before leading the team to Cardiff for the World Cup.

Ireland's flanker Chris Henry said O'Connell had the team "in tears" with an inspirational pre-match speech.

"Paul spoke incredibly well in the changing room," he said.

"He basically had everyone in tears before the match, so it's a brilliant day to be involved in it, and to top the group is incredible feeling."

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The Irish Rugby Village at the IFSC- formerly known as the Oktoberfest site is now the only place you need to be to watch the rugby if you didn't get match tickets.

While Irish fans are having the absolute craic at the World Cup, and making us all very jealous as they do so, we feel just a little bit left now. 

 

However, now you have a brand new venue to enjoy the matches at, and the best part is: it's totally free!

 

The 2,000 capacity indoor and outdoor venue has giant screens, street food market and live entertainment, as well as full bars with the best of Irish craft beers.

To be honest, you had our attention at giant screens and totally won us over with the street food market.

The Irish Rugby Village kicks off Friday 9 October with New Zealand v Tonga from 8pm, and have planned to screen every match every weekend, through to the final on Saturday, 31st October. 

The Rugby Village are also going to be hosting some very interesting guests over the new few weekends. 

Some of the country's top rugby pundits and former international players are expected to make appearance on match days to give their analysis of upcoming games.  

Any chance BOD himself might make an appearance? We can only hope.

So, you have all the perks of being somewhere with an amazing atmosphere, and you also have some of your home comforts too- because we all know that sitting down to watch the rugby includes snacks and probably a beverage or two.

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Next week's game versus France will now determine where Ireland finish in Pool D: we have a guaranteed place in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals following our win over Italy. 

This evening's game was rarely pretty, but it was ultimately job done by Joe Schmidt's men – they won by 16 points to 9 at London's Olympic Stadium.

Keith Earls scored the only try of the game on the 19th-minute.

Ireland remain top of the table in their group – ahead of second-placed France on points difference.

The Boys In Green had been expected to win comfortably, but faced an Azzuri squad in dramatically improved form. Indeed, the Italians arguably played their best rugby in a long time.

Ireland faced more than one hairy moment, and in the end Johnny Sexton was relieved to kick the ball into touch to sound the final whistle.

And while he'll have plenty to address before next-week's decider, Joe Schmidt will at least be content to come through today's contest without any serious injury worries. 

Next Sunday, the team return to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff – where they opened their World Cup campaign with a win over Canada on September 18 – in the final game of the Pool D group stages.

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