Since the advent of professionalism and the rise in the status of the Rugby World Cup after its rushed introduction in 1987 against the wishes of the four unions in Britain and Ireland, the sport at international level now tends to operate in four-year cycles.
Scott Johnson started work yesterday, as the Australian Rugby Union’s director of rugby, charged with overseeing Wallabies’ coach Michael Cheika and helping to restore the sport and its national team to former glories in an increasingly difficult sporting landscape for the code Down Under.
Question marks may remain over his hamstring ahead of Saturday’s Champions Cup quarter-final against Edinburgh but there is no doubting Joey Carbery’s allegiance to Munster with confirmation yesterday that the out-half has signed a two-year contract extension that will see him remain with the province until June 2022.
South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus had exaggeratedly suggested he could be looking for a new job if his side had lost to the All Blacks on Saturday, instead a 36-34 win showed his team were moving the right way towards next year’s Rugby World Cup.
Michael Cheika still adores Johnny Sexton and the Leinster veterans he coached to a Heineken Cup victory in 2009 but the love-in with a player he calls “the maestro” will have to go on hold tomorrow as Australia attempt to close out their Test series with Ireland.
When you put in the type of performance David Pocock delivered against Ireland last weekend, it becomes a little difficult to comprehend the Australian back-rower believed taking his one-year sabbatical from the game was something of a career risk.
This group of Irish players has made a habit of rewriting history over the course of the last few seasons, whether it has been beating New Zealand for the first time or recording a rare Grand Slam as they did in Twickenham back in March.
If Ireland were under any illusions about how tough the defensive challenge that awaits them at Suncorp Stadium this morning will be in this opening Test against Australia, then listening to Wallabies captain Michael Hooper yesterday will have removed any doubt.
ichael Cheika may not have envied Joe Schmidt the task of telling Johnny Sexton he would be watching tomorrow’s kick-off at Suncorp Stadium from the bench but the man who made the call had no hesitation in handing Joey Carbery Ireland’s No. 10 jersey.