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6 Nations

Conor Murray’s Unique Lions, Munster & Ireland Tux

Murray unveiled this beauty at Garryowen’s recent…

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Connor Murray was back at Garryowen RFC as the club who played such a key roll in his career  held a special event in honour of the Munster, Ireland and Lions scrum half at Adare Manor over the weekend.

Munster captain Peter O’Mahony, World Player of the Year Johnny Sexton, Ulster & Ireland captain Rory Best, Keith Earls, Tadhg Furlong, Andrew Conway, Rob Kearney and Keith Wood were some of those in attendance for the black tie event.

Murray admitted he was “humbled” by the tribute on the night and highlighted how big a role his club Garryowen have played in his hugely successful career.

Murray when speaking at the event said,

“I’m a bit awkward about tonight; you come into a room like this in Adare and see people who were your heroes growing up, see people also who perhaps may not be household names as well but people who played a key part in everything you’ve been lucky enough to experience. I’m the one that’s thankful tonight.”

Some would have thought that wearing rugby kit to a Black Tie Event would have been a ‘No No’ but Murray found a clever way around it and sported this specially tailored tux where the lining subtly featured 3 of Murray’s jerseys, British & Irish Lions, Ireland and Munster.

6 Nations

Leinster and Ireland Star Signs New Contract

One of Ireland’s key men has signed a new two-year deal with the IRFU

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Cian Healy has signed a new two-year deal with the IRFU to remain with Leinster and Ireland until the summer of 2021.

The prop is one of the country’s most consistent performers and is delighted to have the opportunity to continue representing both province and country.

“Pulling on a Leinster or an Ireland jersey is something that I have always taken a huge amount of pride in and I am thankful for every opportunity I get. I am delighted therefore to have extended my IRFU contract and to continue to line out for Leinster. I believe that we have built something special at Leinster and with the national team and I want to contribute as best I can to both teams in what will be a hugely exciting few months and years ahead,” he said.

Healy has faced a number of serious injuries over the years but has thanked everyone at club and national level for their support and looks forward to the future with both.

“There has been some difficult times over the last few years for me personally with injury but the support within the Leinster and the Irish rugby family was very humbling from fellow players, coaches and supporters and it’s something that I won’t forget. It made this decision all the easier knowing that I was part of something bigger than just a rugby team. I hope to play my part in helping Leinster and Ireland achieve further success over the next few years and I’m looking forward to the next chapter in that journey,” he added.

Having been capped by Ireland 88 times since his debut in 2009 and holding 207 Leinster caps to his name already Healy is almost ever-present and IRFU Performance Director David Nucifora paid tribute to his consistency.

“Cian is performing at a very high level week in and week out. He works incredibly hard in ensuring that he is physically in the best condition to perform and has bounced back from adversity to return to the top of the international and club game. He will continue to be a leading performer for Ireland and Leinster over the coming years,” he said.

Healy has represented Ireland at two World Cups (2011 and 2015) and will be hoping to be heading to a third in Japan later this year, he also represented the British and Irish Lions in 2013.

As well as that Healy has a host of winner’s medals to his name with three Six Nations Championships in the bag for Ireland, while with Leinster he has won four European Cups, three Guinness Pro titles and a Challenge Cup.

Healy will be hoping to end the week on a high when he has the chance to add a fourth league title to his name as Leinster head to Celtic Park to face Glasgow Warriors in the Pro 14 final.

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6 Nations

O’Shea to be Replaced as Italy Head Coach

Conor O’Shea is set to pass on the reins following the Rugby World Cup in Japan

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(Photo by Emmanuele Ciancaglini/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Cheetahs Rugby appear to have confirmed that head coach Franco Smith will replace Conor O’Shea as Italy’s head coach after the Rugby World Cup in Japan later this year.

The Italian Rugby Federation are yet to comment on the matter. However, the South African side have made the announcement and wished their current head coach the best of luck in a deal that is set to run until 2023.

“Franco was offered the opportunity to coach the Italian national side from 1 January 2020. The Board of Directors see this as a great opportunity for Franco and is proud of the fact that so many top coaches have been developed by the Free State Cheetahs. The Board of Directors is proud of and wishes Franco the best of luck with the opportunity to coach on an international level until the next world cup in 2023,” they said in a statement.

The statement also confirmed that Smith will remain with the Cheetahs for the Currie Cup to provide a smooth take-over in management, with the new head coach to come in for the start of the Pro 14 season.

Former Ireland international O’Shea has been in charge of the Italians since 2016 but has led them on a run of 22 Six Nations defeats in a row.

However, it remains to be seen whether O’Shea who has earned praise from the likes of Italy captain and legend Sergio Parisse for his work behind the scenes, will be offered a different role with the men in blue.

In his current role he is more of a director of rugby overseeing more than just the men’s national side and there has been huge development on the club scene with Benetton reaching the Pro 14 play-offs for the first time ever this season.

Having performed in a directing role at both London Irish and Harlequins before it would allow O’Shea to focus on one task and may even benefit the country’s development. Either way he will hope to finish on a high when his side head to Japan later in the year.

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6 Nations

Munster End Terrible Week on a High with New Contracts

After a hard week for Munster fans the club has given them something to cheer about heading into the weekend

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Munster’s Tadhg Beirne and Craig Casey have signed contracts keeping them at the club to give fans something to smile about following a tough week.

Beirne, who signed for the men in red last summer on a two-year deal has signed with the IRFU and Munster for a further two years extending his stay down south to 2022.

The versatile forward has made 20 appearances for the province this season, winning man of the match awards on five of those occasions as well as scoring two tries along the way.

He also made his Six Nations debut for Ireland in their final day defeat to Wales and is looking for a seat on the plane to the World Cup in Japan later this year.

The other signing is of academy scrum-half Craig Casey, who has put pen to paper on a development contract for next season with a full contract beginning at the start of the 2020/21 season.

Casey played a key role in Ireland’s Under 20 Grand Slam success and had attracted interest from rivals Leinster, but the Munster academy player of the year will stay on the red side of the country.

The retention of two key men will come as a relief to those involved at the club after the announcement earlier in the week that coaches Jerry Flannery and Felix Jones will be departing when their contracts expire in the summer.

The news came as a shock to most as head coach Johann van Graan, must now rebuild his back-room set-up, however, this is the silver lining of their week.

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