England start World Cup with a bang; Rugby referees need to shun the spotlight

The Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Day two of the World Cup has been and gone with - and who can say they were surprised given how the competition has gone so far - plenty of storylines on and off the pitch. Three games took place as England got their campaign up and running with a thumping win over Iran, the Netherlands coasted home against Senegal and Gareth Bale’s penalty rescued a point for Wales in a 1-1 draw with the USA. “He’s never let us down, has he?” were the word of Wales coach Rob Page after the former Real Madrid man struck once again for his country. Away from the football, Iran made the headlines for refusing to sing their national anthem, an act of defiance that is being read as a show of solidarity for a series of anti-government protests back home.

Gerry Thornley looks at Ireland’s November campaign in his column today, listing those who advanced their international ambitions during the window and those who will be disappointed in their return. Amongst those in the plus column are Jimmy O’Brien, Jack Crowley and Stuart McCloskey while Gavin Coombes, Mikey Lowry and Jacob Stockdale are included in the list of those who would have wanted a bigger role. On the officiating side of things, Owen Doyle is not happy with the collective refereeing performance over the weekend’s internationals, arguing that too many forget that they should not be the centre of attention. “There used to be a phrase, not so very long ago, which was just common sense in its simplicity – ‘referees need to let the game breathe’. We saw precious little of that as the referees continued in their precise and meticulous way,” he writes.” In provincial action, Harry Byrne has returned to full fitness for Leinster in good time too with both Johnny Sexton and Ciarán Frawley ruled out of Saturday’s clash with Glasgow.

“It’s horrific, to be honest. You’ve your good days and bad days, but that’s it, what do you do? It’s really tough, obviously. No parent should have to go through it.” Henry De Bromhead has been speaking about continuing his work in racing since the tragic death of his son, Jack. The last few years have been a period of stellar success for the trainer - no one else accumulated more of jump racing’s greatest prizes so plentifully or so quickly - but the perspective provided by the recent tragedy has been difficult to deal with, as De Bromhead explains.

After just missing out on CME Globe Tour Championship in Florida where she finished runner-up to world number one and Rolex Player of the Year Lydia Ko, Leona Maguire will conclude her 2022 efforts this week Spanish Open at Alferini Golf Club which also acts as the season-closing act on the Ladies’ European Tour season. Over on the PGA Tour, Séamus Power finally believes he his playing up to his potential after finishing his tournament action last weekend. 2022 has been a year in which he has navigated his way to the top of the 2022/23 FedEx Cup standings and to a new high of 28th in the official world rankings.