Rugby Union: Ireland stand by their winners

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The Independent Online
IRELAND, floating on the excitement of their first win in three years and 11 matches, were not about to rock the boat when they named their side to face England at Lansdowne Road on Saturday week, and have stuck to the XV who beat Wales.

They have left a vacancy on the bench for the enigmatic lock, Neil Francis, who was an original choice against Wales but who pulled out with a calf-muscle injury. He will need to prove his fitness in a club match on Saturday or his place will go to Ballymena's Davy Tweed.

After the last Five Nations games, thoughts will turn towards the Lions' tour of New Zealand, where the All Blacks already think they have the psychological edge. Eddie Tonks, the chairman of the NZRFU, claimed southern hemisphere sides had been more positive in their attitude to the new laws, especially the ruck-maul law, and were therefore playing better.

The pitch at Parc des Princes in Paris, the home of the Paris St Germain football team as well as the stage for France against Wales on Saturday week, has been extensively resurfaced by workmen from Wembley stadium. The new turf will host a Uefa Cup quarter-final match on Thursday.

The South African RFU has launched a pounds 1.4m plan to develop the sport among black players.

IRELAND (v England, Lansdown Road, 20 March): C Clarke (Terenure College); R Wallace (Garryowen), V Cunningham (St Mary's College), P Danaher (Garryowen) S Geoghegan (London Irish); E Elwood (Lansdowne), M Bradley (Cork Constitution, capt); N Popplewell (Greystones), T Kingston (Dolphin), P Clohessy (Young Munster), P Johns (Dungannon), M Galwey (Shannon), P O'Hara (Cork Constitution), D McBride (Malone), B Robinson (London Irish). Replacements: B Glennon (Lansdowne), N Malone (London Irish), R Saunders (London Irish); A N Other, P McCarthy (Cork Constitution), J Murphy (Greystones).

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