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High impact: can rugby tough it out against an unforgiving future?

Even if all our dreams of a tilt at the World Cup and Champions Cup come true this year, rugby is still a sport facing overwhelming challenges

Ireland clashes with Australia in the Aviva Stadium last November. In spite of past achievements and present potential, there are worries that the sport, for Ireland, could be at its peak. Picture: Sportsfile/Getty

It’s going to be a very big year for the sport of rugby union, particularly with a World Cup in September and October in France, and before that, a Champions Cup final in Dublin in May, hopefully with at least one Irish participant.

England and France visit the Aviva in the Six Nations, so Ireland is arguably the favourite to win that competition. If it does, then the World Cup hype will begin.

However, as ...