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Arnold admits discipline needs to improve after Zebo hit; Ugochukwu makes history

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

Rory Arnold will be most remembered in Ireland for narrowly avoiding a red card for his dangerous tackle on Simon Zebo last weekend. Despite admitting that his discipline needs to improve, the Australian lock has a remarkable back story stemming back to before he made the trip over to south-west France. After being noticed playing touch rugby in 2010 in the Bilambil sports club in Australia, Rory and twin brother Richie trained in their bare feet with the Murwillumbah Bananas until the local shop managed to stock some size 14s. So began the storied rapid rise of Rory, who at one point became the tallest player in Australian rugby. Here both players are - playing with boots now - with a chance to make it to consecutive Champions Cup finals. Closer to home, Connacht received a major boost yesterday with the news that Mack Hansen has signed a contract extension that keeps him out west until 2025.

Collins Ugochukwu used to be a professional soccer player for Crawley Town and Bohemians. After moving to Portlaoise from the UK via a stint in Newbridge, he has made the remarkable transition to an intercounty footballer for Laois, becoming the first Nigerian-born player to represent the county. "The thing about the GAA for me is that I feel like there's no pressure," he says about his fascinating sporting journey. "It's just going out and kicking a bit of football with the lads. I never expected to make anything out of Gaelic football, I just wanted to kick a bit of ball and to enjoy it. In other GAA news, Ciarán Murphy's column looks at how Cavan are too good for Division Four and could make waves in the Tailteann Cup. David Clifford has been speaking about the challenge of continually being double-marked while Cork's Amy Lee insists that her side's failure to win an All-Ireland senior camogie title since 2018 and to beat Galway in a big league or championship match since 2019 has not led to a mental block in her squad.

Cavan's own Leanne Kiernan played a significant role in Liverpool returning to top flight WSL action. Speaking to Joanne O'Riordan, the striker details her return from injury to being named the club's player of the season by various groups: "I love scoring goals. And I love the feeling I get from that, and not many things can come close to that, you know or can come between that, so I feel like a big thing for me is just enjoying every moment." In men's action, you can find a round-up of last night's Premier League results including a win for Chelsea over Leeds here, while there is also a preview of tonight's North London derby where a win for Arsenal will see them qualify for the Champions League at the expense of their neighbours, Spurs. In Scotland, Celtic secured the league title in last night's draw with Dundee.

On Wednesday afternoon the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media, chaired by Niamh Smyth TD, gathered to discuss wider efforts to deal with the levels of invective suffered by officials and players in Irish sport, both online and in the 'real world'. A number of proposals to tackle the issue of abuse in local games were suggested, prime among them the idea of linking funding to a 'zero tolerance' approach to such behaviour on the sidelines.