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Leinster confirm James Lowe hasn't been involved in their return to group training

By Online Editors
James Lowe will become eligible to play for Ireland later this year. (Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Defending Guinness PRO14 champions Leinster have issued a medical bulletin following the squad’s return to group training this week at their Dublin base, while also confirming that James Lowe has temporarily returned to New Zealand for family reasons.  

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Lowe, the former New Zealand Maori player, is due to qualify for Ireland later this year under the three-year residency rule having joined Leinster in 2017 and could feature in Andy Farrell’s international squad following the conclusion of the delayed 2019/20 season. 

“Conor O’Brien (hamstring), Vakh Abdaladze (back), Cian Healy (hip) and Garry Ringrose (hand) have all now returned to full training,” read a club statement. “Dan Leavy is in the final stages of his running rehabilitation following a significant multi-ligament knee injury.

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RugbyPass brings you Game Day, the behind the scenes documentary on the 2018 Guinness PRO14 final between Leinster and Scarlets

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RugbyPass brings you Game Day, the behind the scenes documentary on the 2018 Guinness PRO14 final between Leinster and Scarlets

“James Lowe has returned home to New Zealand for personal reasons. On his return, James will follow all government health advice and guidelines upon arrival back into the country.

“Leinster players and staff returned to the UCD training base on Monday after undergoing PCR testing last Wednesday. This first phase of testing returned zero positive results.”

No games have been played in the PRO14 since Connacht’s March 1 win at Southern Kings. However, plans have now been agreed to get the campaign up and running again in the five-country tournament, starting with two rounds of August derby matches before staging semi-finals and a final in September.    

Unbeaten Leinster are currently 18 points clear at the top of Conference A and set for a potential semi-final versus Munster before a possible decider against either Edinburgh or Ulster. These four sides are the respective top two in each of the conferences. 

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Out-of-contract duo Rob Kearney and Fergus McFadden have also reportedly agreed to short-term deals to continue playing with Leinster through to the conclusion of the 2019/20 season, which also includes the delayed Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final versus Saracens. 

 

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Poorfour 4 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

AI models are really just larger and less transparent variants of the statistical models that have been in use since Moneyball was invented. And a big difference between the Icahn centre’s results and AI today is that ChatGPT-like Large Language Models can explain (to some degree) how they reached their conclusions. In terms of what impact they will have, I suspect it will have two primary impacts: 1) It will place a premium on coaching creativity 2) It will lead to more selections that baffle fans and pundits. Analysts will be able to run the models both ways: they will see their own team’s and players’ weaknesses and strengths as well as the opposition’s. So they will have a good idea at what the other team will be targeting and the decisive difference may well be which coaches are smart enough to think of a gameplan that the other side didn’t identify and prepare for. For players, it places a premium on three key things: 1) Having a relatively complete game with no major weaknesses (or the dedication to work on eliminating them) 2) Having the tactical flexibility to play a different game every week 3) Having a point of difference that is so compelling that there isn’t a defence for it. (3) is relatively rare even among pro players. There have been only a handful of players over the years where you knew what they were going to do and the problem was stopping it - Lomu would be the classic example. And even when someone does have that, it’s hard to sustain. Billy Vunipola in his prime was very hard to stop, but fell away quite badly when the toll on his body began to accumulate. So coaches will look for (1) - a lack of exploitable weaknesses - and (2) - the ability to exploit others’ weaknesses - ahead of hoping for (3), at least for the majority of the pack. Which is likely to mean that, as with the original Moneyball, competent, unshowy players who do the stuff that wins matches will win out over outrageous talents who can’t adapt to cover their own weaknesses. Which will leave a lot of people on the sidelines sputtering over the non-inclusion of players whose highlights reels are spectacular, but whose lowlight reels have been uncovered by AI… at least until the point where every fan has access to a sporting analysis AI.

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