Paul O’Connell believes England’s class of 2015 are the strongest he has faced in his career – more powerful even than Sir Clive Woodward’s 2003 World Cup winners. “They are very disciplined and very organised. I’ve worked with Graham Rowntree and Andy Farrell – they are brilliant coaches and brilliant man-managers. “They are very clever tactical guys as well, and I would say the players are really responding to and enjoying that. “So it’s a combination of a lot of things that has put them in a really strong position.” For the majority of the week’s build-up Ireland’s coaches and players have sought to diffuse the notion that beating England matters more to the squad than any other victory. O’Connell, however, who will win his 99th Ireland cap this weekend, admitted Joe Schmidt’s side must channel all the emotion that goes into facing England. Munster lock O’Connell believes boss Lancaster’s insistence on his players upholding high levels of conduct underpins their solid progression in his tenure. “I think passion still plays a big role in rugby: you still have to play with passion and emotion, but also you still have to have your head screwed on from a discipline point of view,” he said. “It’s a big emotional occasion and we’ll be drawing on that as much as we can. “England have great strength in depth, they have been building that and they seem to have a great attitude throughout their squad. “They have a great mentality and discipline, and they are really organised. “It hasn’t surprised me they’ve done well. I thought they were harshly criticised in the autumn. “That Wales game was a standard-bearer for the rest of the competition and they really did set the standard there. “We’ve obviously lost the last four in a row against them and that’s disappointing. “Last year I thought we put ourselves in a great position to win after 50 minutes and it’s testament to them as a team that they came back to win. “They are an excellent side, very organised, very disciplined and a strong team, and that’s probably why we have a poor record against them in recent years.” Hooker Dylan Hartley continues to bristle against his woeful disciplinary record that now stretches to 50 weeks of career bans, even though Lancaster has unequivocally backed the England front-rower. Hartley will surpass Brian Moore as England’s second-most capped hooker this weekend, and O’Connell said he is not surprised Lancaster has kept faith with Northampton’s gritty competitor. “I think we all make mistakes. It’s down to the quality of the person then, and the player, to respond,” O’Connell said. “He’s obviously captained Northampton for a long time. He’s obviously a good-quality guy, and we’ve all made slip-ups. “I think the character of the people that England seem to be selecting at the moment seems to be a big part of their success. “I don’t know Dylan Hartley that well – I’ve only met him a few times – but he seems to be a good guy. “For me he’s a fantastic player, and that’s what they go to.” Ireland captain O’Connell bestowed the ultimate compliment on England and head coach Stuart Lancaster, ahead of Sunday’s RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam eliminator. O’Connell was a second-half replacement when England battered Ireland 42-6 in Dublin to claim the Grand Slam in 2003, before marching to the World Cup crown in Australia later the same year. Ireland’s 35-year-old talisman and skipper admitted victory over England at the Aviva Stadium, even with the visitors making light of a raft of injuries, would rank among the finest of his Test career. “It would be right up there with anything we’ve achieved,” O’Connell said of a potential victory over England on Sunday. “Beating England is always a big thing for Irish teams. “I don’t think I’ve beaten an England team or a squad as strong as this one in my time playing for Ireland. “I think this is the strongest that I’ve come across them in my career, so they will be right up there. “They are a very big side, very powerful men – a big strong powerful bench as well. “Stuart Lancaster seems to have created something similar to what we have here, in that there’s incredible competition for places. “The likes of James Haskell have been waiting to get in there for a long time, and he’s gotten in there and he realises he needs to take his chance and he’s been excellent. Press Association
Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar has been charged with making “insulting acts against a match official” following his comments on social media about the Champions League tie with Manchester United.The 27-year-old called the decision to award United a 94th-minute penalty in the match on 7 March “a disgrace”.Marcus Rashford scored to ensure a 3-1 win and the Premier League side went through to the Champions League quarter-finals on away goals after the tie ended 3-3 on aggregate. The penalty was awarded through VAR after referee Damir Skomina had initially given United a corner when Diogo Dalot’s shot struck Presnel Kimpembe and went over the crossbar.Skomina received a signal to check for a possible handball in the box and subsequently changed his decision.Neymar missed both legs of the tie through injury but wrote in an Instagram post that the penalty “doesn’t exist”.He added: “Four guys who know nothing about football watch a slow-motion replay in front of the television.”A hearing date is yet to be confirmed.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram
…as Minister Scott directs guard services to implement measuresDespite the concerns raised by stakeholders regarding Junior Social Protection Minister Keith Scott’s plan to bar single mothers from working the night shift for security firms, he is forging ahead.In a missive on Monday, it was communicated that Minister Scott has “no intention”Minister within the Social Protection Ministry, Keith Scottof abandoning what the Ministry described as a “noble idea”. The Ministry made it clear that it planned to minimise and eventually eliminate night work for single mothers within the private security industry and as such, directives were issued to other Ministries.“In pursuit of this noble idea, the Hon Minister is with immediate effect requesting his colleagues and other senior Government functionaries to take all feasible steps to give efficacy to the initiative,” the missive said.“Accordingly, they are asked to ensure that with immediate effect the contracts for the provision of private security services provide for the exclusion of single mothers from night work,” it continued.But while the missive noted the Government’s plan to eventually eliminate night work for single mothers, it went on to state that whatever policies were developed and implemented, they “should not run counter to the individual desire of a single mother who may elect to work at nights”.The Ministry’s statement said that Minister Scott “wishes to assure all interested stakeholders that this proposition is merely intended to promote the interest and safety of the family unit”.The desire to bar single mothers from night work was first expressed by Scott during a seminar hosted by the Minister on August 24, 2017. Minister Scott had noted that his Ministry was concerned over the work arrangement for female security personnel in the field and the effect it has on single mothers.“Many days when I report for duty, I am pained and grieved to be greeted at 7:30 am by a female security officer who had worked the night before,” he had expressed. “I’m unsure whether or not the private security industry has carefully examined the impact which night work has had and continues to have on women…”According to the Department of Public Information, the Minister had called for the development and implementation of policies to completely prevent women from working the night shift.But in the days after this pronouncement, a number of persons, particularly on social media, had expressed concern over the Minister’s statement, and it had been labelled an infringement on gender equality. According to the Government in the statement, it is mindful of the criticisms it initially attracted during the workshop last month. However, it said Government was “confident” that feminist organisations would agree with eliminating night work.“Being mindful of the concerns raised by certain sections of the wider society, the Ministry remains confident that the feminist organisations would find favour with the elimination of Night Work by single mothers that would go a far way in repairing the moral fabric of our society which is seriously negatively affected,” the Minister’s statement said. It was only in March of 2017 that Social Protection Minister Amna Ally had urged developed Caricom countries to adhere to their commitments to make gender equality and women empowerment a priority.
talkSPORT’s Spanish football expert Graham Hunter claims Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti MUST win the Champions League this season if he wants to keep his job.The Italian has been linked with a move to Manchester City in the summer, should the club decide to dispense with Manuel Pellegrini’s services.Real Madrid will have to overturn a 2-1 deficit in their semi-final against Juventus, and Hunter believes the match at the Bernabeu will be critical.“The tradition at Real Madrid is that, if you win the Champions League, you get sacked. Just look at Vincente del Bosque and Jupp Heynckes.“I’m a Carlo Ancelotti defender but he hasn’t helped himself, he should have made better decisions.“Asier Illarramendi, Javier Hernandez and Jese should have played more regularly. Keylor Navas should have tested Iker Casillas more regularly as well. Ancelotti’s lack of rotation will count against him.“If they don’t win against Juventus, and subsequently win the final, it’s a little hard to understand how Ancelotti will survive.“That’s the way Florentino Perez is. If they win against Juventus, there is going to be a El Clasico final.“If you win a Clasico final, it’s unprecedented, and maybe Ancelotti stays.”