Rugby fans need to understand these are the good times - enjoy them

Sports briefing: Gordon D’Arcy on how England can recover from France mauling; Honeysuckle and Rachael Blackmore get us in the heart

Shane Hegarty has been taking his 10-year-old daughter to watch Ireland in action at Lansdowne Road for the last while. It was when they were at the Six Nations’ win over France last month that she turned to her Dad near the end of the game and said: “I’ve never seen us lose.”

The youth of today, they don’t know how good they have it.

This revelation sent Shane on a trip down memory lane, through his rugby-supporting years, where he saw Ireland lose, often in a crushingly disappointing manner, more often than he’d care to recall. Little wonder, then, that he’s savouring every moment of this particular team’s journey.

There’s lots more rugby reading today as part of the build-up to Saturday’s game, Gordon D’Arcy taking a look at how England might approach the game, in the aftermath of that mauling by France, while Johnny Watterson reports from London where he heard their assistant coach Kevin Sinfield describe the mood in the camp after that defeat as “almost a form of grief”.


Malachy Clerkin, meanwhile, headed to Abbotstown to hear from some of the Irish camp, among them Tadhg Furlong who asked, not unreasonably, “if you’re not excited about playing this weekend, why are you playing the sport?”

There was no shortage of excitement in Cheltenham on Monday where Brian O’Connor saw Constitution Hill add to the notion that he might just be a horse for the ages, while Brian and Nathan Johns witnessed the emotional scenes that followed the Henry de Bromhead-trained Honeysuckle marking her final run with another Festival triumph, Rachael Blackmore steering her home.

Telly choice: It’s day two of the Cheltenham Festival (Virgin Media One, 1.0-4.30) and the big one this time around is the Champion Chase (3.30), Willie Mullins’ Energumene having no small chance of success.

Keep an eye on: Liverpool’s attempt to find their inner Istanbul when they try to overcome that 5-2 first leg deficit from Anfield when they take on Real Madrid in the Champions League (Virgin Media Two, BT Sport 1, kick-off 8.0).