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Yesterday, the world of Irish sport was rocked with the news that rugby hero Anthony Foley had passed away. 

The 42-year-old had an international career that spanned a decade, and captained the Irish team.

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Despite his 62 Irish caps, Anthony Foley will be truly remembered for his time with Munster, where he was a player, a captain, a coach and a legend. 

Since his death was announced yesterday morning, members of the sporting community have been paying tribute to Anthony 'Axel' Foley on social media. 

Ronan O'Gara, who played alongside Anthony for years, sent an emotional tweet yesterday night, expressing his sadness over the death of his friend.

Brian O'Driscoll also shared a tweet, where he shared his condolences with Anthony's family.

Anthony retired from professional rugby in 2008, and went on to become the head coach for Munster.

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Rugby Unions from across the world have also shared in their sadness at Anthony's passing, proving that he was a true veteran of the game. 

President Michael D Higgins has also paid tribute to the late sporting star, calling him "one of the great figures of Irish sport in the modern era".

Anthony Foley is survived by his wife, Olive and his two sons Tony and Dan. 

Our thoughts are with the family, and the entire rugby community at this difficult time.  

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According to emerging reports, Luke Fitzgerald is officially retiring from professional rugby.

The 28-year-old Co Wicklow-native, who sustained a neck injury in recent months, has been advised by professionals to retire on medical grounds.

Luke, who played back for Leinster, Ireland and British & Irish Lions, confirmed reports circulating on social media while speaking to leinsterrugby.ie, saying: "I've had a wonderful rugby career which makes it easy for me to move on to the next stage of my life."

"It's been an amazing journey in which I got to experience the highs and lows that come with professional sport and I have learned a huge amount from each experience," he added.

"I'm very thankful for the opportunities I have had, the people with whom I've worked and the lifelong friends I have made."

Acknowledging the highlights of his sporting career, he finished by saying: "It's been an honour and a privilege to represent my province, my country and the British & Irish Lions during my career and I'm glad to finish my career as a 'one club man'."

Luke made his Leinster debut in September 2006 against Edinburgh before making a further 17 appearances for Leinster in his debut season.

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The wives and girlfriends of our proud nation's rugby stars – both past and present – are generally a likeable bunch of lassies.

Amy Huberman [Brian O'Driscoll] is a writer and actor of considerable note; Aoife Cogan [Gordan D'Arcy] runs her own Pilates business; Lucy Whitehouse [Tommy Bowe] is a nurse, and Sinead Corcoran [Jack McGrath] is a radiographer. Not to mention that a host of others are also studying at third level. 

Now, if rumour is to be believed, a certain 21-year-old Shuana Lindsay has been thrown into this rather impressive mix.

Yes, Munster scrum-half Conor Murray, 26, is allegedly calling Ms Lindsay his girlfriend – so we thought we'd check her out with a good old social media stalk.

 

#Angel #Divil #naughtyornice #lingerie #wings #justforoneday #wangs #errday #stockings #photoshoot #videoshoot #fun

A photo posted by Shauna Lindsay (@shaunalindsay) on

And it seems that the stunning Co Clare woman is one serious hottie: a model and reigning Miss Limerick who finished as first runner-up in the recent Miss Universe Ireland competition. 

Dating for around four months, the Sunday Independent reports that the sportsman spotted Shuana "across a packed nightclub and decided the beautiful brunette was the one for him".

Another source told the same publication: "She is a really beautiful girl who is extremely down to earth and he seems to be pretty keen. They are getting on famously and things are going strong.

 "They have been trying to keep it on the down low but, yes, things are going very well."

Since sitting her Leaving Cert in 2012, Shuana has gradually built up a celebrated social media presence – and she now posts a serious amount of eye-catching snaps to her Instagram page. 

It's probably too early to be talking beautiful Lindsay-Murray babies (sorry – we're getting carried away) but at the very least, here's to hoping that the duo will become a regular sight on the Irish social scene.

Indeed, a source told Goss.ie that the gym-loving model, who is represented by the Andrea Roche agency in Dublin as well as the Holman Lee agency in Limerick, is eyeing a move to Dublin in the very near future. 

"She really wants to make this year about her career," the insider revealed.

"Obviously moving to Dublin means being closer to Conor so that was definitely apart of the decision," they added.

"They are getting on great together."

Shauna's Facebook page previously caught the attention of Conor's teammate, Simon Zebo, and she furthermore boasts notorious lothario Calum Best as a Facebook friend. 

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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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We might have to say goodbye to our Irish beauty Nadia Forde as she reportedly might be moving to France or Japan to be with her boyf Dominic Day.

The model has been living in London since winning I’m A Celeb in 2014 and now it looks like she might have to pack her bags again.

Dominic is in the running with both French and Japanese rugby clubs and it is claimed he asked Nadia to move with him if he is selected.

“Nadia is a real home bird, but Dom asked her to move with him when he decides on a new club so she said yes,” an insider told the Irish Mail on Sunday.

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Irish Fly-half and general rugby legend Jonathan Sexton is expecting his second child with wife of two years, Laura.

The 30-year-old is already a proud daddy of 19-month-old baby boy named Luca 

According to the Irish Independent, the Irish Fly-half's latest bundle of joy is due in a matter of weeks. 

However, we reckon the arrival of a baby in February could be bad timing for the talented sports star. 

The notoriously private couple will have a tough few months ahead as Jonny is gearing up to help lead Ireland to an RBS Six Nations win that begins in early February. 

Laura and Jonny are childhood sweethearts and married privately in 2013. 

The small ceremony took place in the gorgeous surroundings of the Adare Manor house in Limerick. 

According to reports Jonny is ready to return to his position as out-half for the tournament following a disappointing injury saw him out of the Rugby World Cup in their pool game against France. 

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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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Several reports from the UK this weekend suggest that two high-profile Premier League footballers are preparing to come out as gay.

There are currently no openly homosexual athletes playing in the sport’s top tier in England.

One story in The Mirror today states that the players – one of whom is an English international – feel that the time is right, and that there is a far better climate of acceptance now.

The newspapers also says that the players are eager to make the announcement before the beginning of next season.

Almost every other major sport, from hurling to rugby, has had players speak openly about their sexuality and continue their careers without any major disruption.

However, professional football in the UK has yet to be tested in the same way.

Former Aston Villa player Thomas Hitzlsperger said he was gay after he retired in 2014 and Robbie Rogers [pictured above] quit the game after saying he was gay in 2012 before returning to the sport. He now plays for LA Galaxy alongside Robbie Keane.

The Mirror also reports that one well-known player told friends he was gay in 2011 but his car was them daubed with a homophobic slur.

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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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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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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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Ireland has kicked-off a great Rugby World Cup campaign so far – with tries galore leaving the team sitting on top of Pool D.

And Wales's stunning 28-25 win over host-nation England has had a major impact on the just-released world rugby rankings.

Yes, while the All Blacks remains the best team playing, Wales has climbed up two places on the same list – hitting the No.2 spot for the first time in the 12-year history of the weekly-released table. 

Despite being something of a pre-tournament favourite, England, on the other hand, falls down to No.6. On this side of the water, there was good news for Ireland, however – the Boys In Green are up a spot to No.4 in the world.

France, our most threatening rival in Pool D, is currently ranked No.7.

Scotland is the biggest climber – making it into the Top Ten to reach No.9 from a previous ranking of 12. 

Joe Schmidt's squad next face 14th-placed Italy in six days' time at the Olympic Stadium in London. 

Earlier today it was announced that more than a million people had tuned into TV3 to watch the Ireland Vs Romania game yesterday. 

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