Connacht’s Bundee Aki scores his side’s second try despite Andrew Conway of Munster Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Bundee Aki scores late try to keep Connacht on top of the Pro 12 table with 18-12 win

Kevin McLaughlin playing for Ireland for the last time, against New Zealand in 2013. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Ireland flanker ignored his concussion symptoms until that was no longer possible

The former Ireland Under-20 captain Niall Scannell  will make his fourth appearance of the season for Connacht. Photogaph: Ashley Western/Inpho

Rob Henshaw starts at fullback but both Simon Zebo and Conor Murray miss out

Luke Fitzgerald in action against Bath: “I’d say absolutely not; the last thing we need is a break. We need to throw ourselves into it at this stage.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Leinster player is confident that the team will get better as they get used to new set-up

Bath drive over on their way to a penalty try in their European Champions Cup victory over Leinster at the Recreation Ground, Bath, on Saturday. Photograph:  Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Guinness Pro12 rugby: Neither province will be able to dwell too long on weekend defeats

  Robbie Henshaw: “I’m not making any decisions yet at the moment. I’m just waiting until all the options come in and then I’m going to assess what is the best for my career.”

Ireland and Connacht centre expected to move to Leinster next season

Nathan White will make his 50th appearance for the province. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Pat Lam’s side take on Brive not having lost at home to French side since 2008

Leinster coach Leo Cullen: “There are areas we can fix that are very much in our control.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Absentees from Wasps game set to return but Sean O’Brien likely to miss Bath clash

New Zealand’s Jonah Lomu  is tackled by Ireland’s Denis Hickie in a 2001 Test match. Photograph: Patrick Bolger/Inpho

Leinster captain Isa Nacewa recalls great All-Black winger who passed away aged 40

Iain Henderson: had surgery on a finger damaged in Ireland’s World Cup quarter-final defeat to Argentina

Talented secondrow-cum-backrow returned to training with Ulster on Monday

Munster’s Francis Saili is tackled by Braam Steyn of Benetton Treviso during Saturday’s Champions Cup game at Thomond Park. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.

Conditions play part but Simon Zebo’s late bonus-point try makes it worthwhile

Ulster’s Darren Cave will line out in the centre alongside Luke Marshall. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

French outfit sacked coach two days before their debut in Champions Cup

Francis Saili, who has won two New Zealand caps, is expected to be a game breaker for Munster. Photograph: Inpho.

Anthony Foley’s side have too much in their armoury to be really troubled by Italian side

Toulon celebrate their Champions Cup Final victory over Clermont Auvergne   at Twickenham back in May. Photograph:  Stu Forster/Getty Images

Here's the lowdown on all 20 teams ahead of the start of this year’s competition

Ireland captain Paul O’Connell lifts  the Six Nations trophy at Murrayfield in March. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Four-year deal will cost station over €22m in another significant sports coup

Wasps’ Joe Launchbury in action against Leinster during the Champions Cup clash at the   RDS last year.  Photo:  David Rogers/Getty Images

Dai Young says Premiership club capable of posing Leinster significant problems

Fergus McFadden: ‘I think we’ve got a nice run into this game with it being on Sunday.’ Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Leinster defence looks to link in threes to hold off challenge of wing Christian Wade

Rory Best: Ulster’s poor away form “sometimes just needs to be mentioned and addressed”. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Province aim to overcome poor away form against Oyonnax in first Champions Cup game

Charles Piutau of Wasps: described by Girvan Dempsey as a “very strong, physical guy who’s elusive as well”. Photograph:  David Rogers/Getty Images

Luke Fitzgerald, Ben Te’o and Seán Cronin should be available for Sunday’s Wasps clash

Rob Kearney picked up a hamstring injury in Leinster’s Pro 12 game against Scarlets at the RDS. Photograph:  Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Luke Fitzgerald set to return to training on Tuesday after shoulder injury

Simon Zebo moves to fullback for Munster’s Guinness Pro 12 trip to play Edinburgh on Saturday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Keith Earls, Conor Murray and Donnacha Ryan return to starting positions

Newly appointed Ulster head coach Les Kiss. Photograph: Brian Little/Inpho.

New head coach makes four changes and three positional switches for Rodney Parade game

Robbie Henshaw: will start at fullback for Connacht against Treviso at the Sportsground. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Benetton Treviso facing a tough task at the Sportsground

Talented Leinster back Garry Ringrose lines out at outside centre, having taken man-of-the-match award in win over Glasgow Warriors. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Province welcomes back internationals for Pro12 clash against unbeaten table-toppers

Munster’s head coach Anthony Foley among the attendance at the European Champions Cup & European Challenge Cup launch at The Stoop, London. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Coach Anthony Foley hoping winger signs a new deal and reject Toulouse’s bid

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen oversees training. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Leinster man out of Scarlets clash and is doubt for Champions Cup opener

Japan players celebrate their momentous victory over South Africa in the pool section – the Brave Blossoms missed out on a place in the quarter-finals but won the hearts of the rugby world. Photograph: Getty Images

‘Irish Times’ team looks back at an eventful tournament and pick their highs and lows

Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe celebrates with fans after Argentina’s World Cup quarter-final win over Ireland. Photograph: Getty

As the dust settles in the wake of Ireland’s exit, what has the tournament shown us?

The game – and World Cup – is up for Ireland as Juan Imhoff dives over the line to score Argentina’s fourth try and seal their passage to the semi-final, where they will play Michael Cheika’s Australia in Twickenham. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty Images

Ireland players struggle to explain what went wrong in opening period against Argentina

 South Africa’s captain Fourie Du Preez runs in to score the winning try against Wales six minutes before the final whistle  at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire

Warren Gatland’s side find themselves unable to translate try-scoring chances into points

Fourie Du Preez and Schalk Burger embrace after South Africa’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final win over Wales. Photograph: Getty

Warren Gatland’s side are just edged out by Boks in gruesome battle at Twickenham

Bernard Foley attributes big part of his development as a player to his involvement in Sevens rugby. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Wallabies outhalf has made 10 jersey his own with some stellar showings at World Cup

Australia’s outhalf Kurtley Beale in action against Wales. Beale did superbly when coming on as an early replacement against England. Photograph: AFP Photo

RWC quarter-final preview: Sunday – Australia v Scotland, Twickenham (4.0, live on TV3, ITV)

Australia’s prop James Slipper (second left) goes through a drill at Teddington in preparation for the quarter-final against Scotland. Photograph: Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images.

The disciplinary process is a big issue, but Cheika is more concerned with injury woes

Welsh player Tyler Morgan  (right), seen in action against Fiji, dons the number 13 jersey for the showdown against South Africa. Photograph:  Geoff Caddick/EPA

Morgan to wear the ‘unlucky for some’ number 13 jersey

Ireland’s lock Devin Toner vies with France’s prop Nicolas Mas during the Pool D match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Photograph: Getty Images

Impressive foot work, squad depth, set-piece, tough calls and being narrow in attack

Robbie Henshaw celebrates Ireland’s win over France. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Joe Schmidt’s side move up two places on the back of Sunday’s World Cup win over France

France’s centre Mathieu Bastareaud:  Inevitably, I am very disappointed. There are plenty of things I’ve done wrong. I had a bad game. I am not ashamed in admitting it.

Players, managemet and media admit Les Bleus were not up to standard against Ireland

Ireland’s hooker Rory Best braces himself as two French players move in for the tackle. Photograph: Damien Meyer/AFP Photo/Getty Images

Rory Best hails importance of bench during brutally physical encounter with France

Australia outhalf Bernard Foley is challenged by three Welsh tacklers. Foley kicked all his team’s points via five penalties. Photograph:  Billy Stickland/Inpho

Failure to capitalise when Wallabies reduced to 13 men sees proves so costly for Wales

Despite being reduced to 13 men at one point Australia held out to top Pool A

Wales captain Sam Warburton

Wales v Australia preview: Twickenham, Saturday, 4.45 (Live on TV3, ITV)

Ireland winger  Tommy Bowe scores a try against France in 2012. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland have more than matched their French rivals since the 2012 Six Nations

All Black centre Ma’a Nonu will bring up a century of caps against Tonga. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand captain Richie McCaw sits out match against Tonga with hip injury

George North, seen here lifting Israel Folau while playing for the Lions against Australia in 2013, has been moved to centre by Wales coach Warren Gatland. Photograph: Matt King/Getty Images.

Welsh coach cuts cloth according to means ahead of bout with Australia

Australia’s outhalf Bernard Foley scores a try against England. Photograph: Andrew Winning/Livepic

Drew Mitchell says former Leinster coach has got Wallabies committed to the cause

Peter O’Mahony’s brilliant try-saving tackle on Italy’s Josh Furno proved vital in Sunday’s Pool D encounter at the Olympic Stadium. Photograph:  Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Players will feel the pain both physically and and in Joe Schmidt’s analyses

The collective moment of madness that cost England dear as Owen Farrell (left) and Sam Burgess fell Australia’s Matt Giteau and Michael Hooper, leading to Farrell’s yellow card. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Impressive Australia always in control as midfield axis frailties cost hosts dearly

 Michael Cheika addresses his charges before Australia’s game against England at Twickenham. Photo:  Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Australia coach not getting carried away by his side’s superb win over England

Rory Best was one of the few good performers for Ireland in their World Cup Pool D clash with Italy. Photo: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

The Ulsterman was one of the few good performers for Ireland

England were beaten by Australia - thanks largely to a dominant performance by the visitor’s pack. Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

Hosts got back to within a single score late on but the Wallabies proved worthy winners

Italy’s  Tommaso Allan of Italy looks to release the backs during the  World Cup Pool D match against France  at Twickenham Stadium. Photo:  David Rogers/Getty Images

Traditional national game based upon a strong pack is undergoing a transformation

Owen Farrell has retained  his place at outhalf ahead of Bath’s George Ford. Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Stuart Lancaster’s team desperate for result but Australia pose massive challenge

Blood runs down the face of South Africa’s lock Victor Matfield during the Pool B match against  Samoa. The forward will missthe Scotland match with a knee injury. Photograph: AFP Photo

Scotland accused of fielding weakened team with an eye on final pool match against Samoa

Wesley Fofana scores the first try for France during the Rugby World Cup Pool D encounter at stadium MK in Milton Keynes. Photograph:  Eddie Keogh/Reuters/Livepic

Joe Schmidt will be encouraged by French vulnerability in cracking encounter

 Wesley Fofana  runs with a ball next to captain Thierry Dusautoir during a France training session at Stadium MK in Milton Keynes. Photograph: Getty

Thierry Dusautoir insists Canada game is not just ‘dress rehearsal’ for Ireland match

Italy’s outhalf and place-kicker Tommaso Allan. Photograph: Matt Lewis/Getty Images)

Jacques Brunel has placed faith in 22-year-old nephew of former Scottish hooker

Sergio Parisse has joined up with the Italy squad ahead of Sunday’s clash with Ireland at the Olympic Stadium. Photograph: PA

Azzurri talisman had been in France receiving treatment for a calf injury

France’s Mathieu Bastareaud with fellow centre Alexandre Dumoulin. Photograph: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

France centre admits not everyone at home has faith in Philippe Saint-André’s side

Rob Kearney may have suffered a gluteal strain in scoring a try (above) against Romania. Photograph: Paul Gilham/Getty Images.

Rob Kearney a doubt for match against Italy, with Rob Henshaw likely to return

 Keith Earls and Simon Zebo were two of Ireland’s standout performers in their 44-10 win over Romania at Wembley. Photograph: Reuters

John O’Sullivan looks at five talking points from Ireland’s 44-10 win over Romania

Simon Zebo  gets away from Romania’s Viorel Lucaci during Ireland’s 44-10 win in their Rugby World Cup pool match at Wembley. Photo: David Davies/ PA

Tommy Bowe, Keith Earls and Simon Zebo all impressed in Ireland’s 44-10 win

 Romania’s Welsh head coach Lynn Howells looks on prior to their  Pool D openingmatch against France  at the Olympic Stadium. Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP/Gerry Images

Former Wales assistant has the practicality and clarity to guide Romania through the World Cup

Acting Italy captain Leonardo Ghiraldini believes it will be tough to beat Canada. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images.

Sergio Parisse not ready to return but waits on wings for Ireland

Tomas Francis starts for Wales against England on Saturday night despite having just three international caps. Photograph: Getty

23-year-old prop heads into Twickenham showdown with just three caps to his name

Wales captain Sam Warburton retains his place at openside flanker despite the strong form of Justin Tipuric. Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images.

Wales coach says they were within rules to use extended squad players

A group of Wales’ back-up players reportedly took part in training with the squad. Photograph: Getty Images

Those who do not make the final 31-man World Cup squad cannot join the group

Wesley Fofana twists to score France’s fourth try during their 38-11 win over Romania at the Olympic Stadium. Photograph: Getty

Philippe Saint-André’s side run in five tries to make it two from two despite poor display

France centre Wesley Fofana during a team training session at the Olympic Stadium in London on  the eve of their  World Cup match against Romania. Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP

Wesley Fofana, Gael Fickou in centre provides France with attacking edge

Japan captain Michael Leitch speaks to reporters  ahead of the Scotland game. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire.

Eddie Jones’s side may struggle to replicate display that brought win over Springboks

Flanker Sam Cane will captain New Zealand for the first time in Thursday’s World Cup clash against minnows Namibia. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA

Sam Cane will become the All Blacks’ 67th captain at the Olympic Stadium on Thursday

Japan head coach Eddie Jones and Kosei Ono celebrate after victory over South Africa in Pool B of the Rugby World Cup. Photograph: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

Japan ready for a short turnaround against Scotland, says Eddie Jones

Ian Madigan: “It was very satisfying to see the stuff we have been working on over the last three of four weeks come to fruition.” Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Joe Schmidt will be pleased at how quickly his replacement outhalf adapted to the game

Jared Payne’s ability to make the right decision makes him such a vital part of Ireland under Joe Schmidt. Photograph:  Michael Steele/Getty Images

John O’Sullivan breaks down a promising start for Joe Schmidt’s side in Cardiff

Coach Philippe Saint André has entrusted the running of the game to Freddie Michalak (above), a player who exemplifies the team: gifted but flawed. Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images

Victory many not prove pretty, but French are long past caring what others think

Fiji scrumhalf Nikola Matawalu drops the ball agonisingly short of the line after a blistering run down the right wing. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

Stuart Lancaster’s side get off to winning start against Fiji at Twickenham

The New Zealand All Blacks during a gym session at Lensbury ahead of their World Cup opener. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty Images

Tony Woodcock will equal former Jason Leonard’s world record of 104 caps at prop

England coach Stuart Lancaster looks on during his players’ Captain’s Run on the eve of the opening World Cup  match against Fiji at Twickenham. Photograph: Getty.

Weight of expectation sits easily on shoulders of Stuart Lancaster’s side ahead of opener

Leinster’s Jack Conan with Josh Turnbull of Cardiff. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Irish province struggled their way through first home Pro12 game of the new season

Tyler Bleyendaal  is set to start for Munster against the Ospreys. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Welsh outfit to honour former player All Black Jerry Collins, who died in car crash

Garry Ringrose usually plays at outside centre but will get a run on the right wing. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

Leo Cullen’s side determined to register first victory of season at home to Cardiff Blues

Stuart McCloskey is tackled by Ospreys’ Lloyd Evans and Gareth Delve during last week’s Pro12 clash. Photo: Darren Kidd/INPHO

Neil Doak’s sides have got their Pro12 campaign off to a flyer

The Webb Ellis Cup with a 2015 rugby ball ahead of this month’s tournament. Photograph: Dave Rogers/Getty Images)

Everything’s covered here - from the exploits of Diego Luis Albanese to Zinzan Brooke

Ireland fans celebrate victory after the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Ireland at Eden Park on September 17, 2011 in Auckland. Photograph: Sandra Mu/Getty Images

From Canada in 1987 to Italy four years ago - John O’Sullivan rolls back the years

An Ireland fan looks dejected during the IRB RWC Quarter Final match between Ireland and Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium in 2011. Photograph: Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images

We’ve had the highs but John O’Sullivan remembers the lows too - from 1987 to 2011

Dublin-born Alan MacGinty of the USA Eagles is tackled by Australia’s Sam Carter: “With each game my confidence has grown.” Photograph: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Former Blackrock student Alan MacGinty hopes to win sixth cap in World Cup opener

The  Millennium Stadium in  Cardiff where Ireland will meet Canada on September 19th, France on October 11th and either New Zealand or Argentina on the weekend of October 17th/18th should Joe Schmidt’s side reach the quarter-finals. Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire.

Ireland rugby fans facing huge hotel bills in Cardiff for France match and potential quarter-finals

Lansdowne head coach Mike Ruddock: doesn’t believe the loss of Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb to injury will have a massive impact on Wales’ chances at the World Cup. Photograph: Inpho

Lansdowne coach must rebuild side that has lost six of last season’s starting pack

Canada’s lock Jamie Cudmore:  “That’s a key thing, keeping rugby’s ethics. You play hard, you shake hands – there’s a good level of respect.” Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Secondrow set to renew acquaintance with old sparring partner Paul O’Connell

Richard Strauss takes part in the Ireland open training session at the RDS. Photograph:   Billy Stickland/Inpho

‘The first time I played for Ireland was a very proud moment for me. I don’t think that’s going to change’

England loosehead prop Joe Marler is forced out of the scrum during the World Cup warm-up game against Ireland at Twickenham. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Set piece was excellent but Joe Schmidt’s men have work to do in other areas

Ireland winger Dave Kearney catches a high ball under pressure from England’s  Anthony Watson during the World Cup warm-up at Twickenham. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Leinster winger shines but Ulster star’s struggles continue at Twickenham

Lesinter’s Isaac Boss returns from Ireland duty to line out for Leo Cullen’s side in their opening Pro12 match against Leinster tomorrow night. Photo: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Leo Cullen calls upon five returning Ireland squad members, including Isaac Boss

Leinster’s Kevin McLaughlin: “Every opportunity I get now to play I’m going to be unbelievably hungry.” Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Province’s interim captain raring to go having overcome his injury nightmare

Tadhg Furlong has been named in ireland’s 31-man squad after making his debut against wales at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday. Photo: James Crombie/INPHO

Andrew Trimble and Marty Moore are two of the players unlucky to miss out

Ireland’s Jordi Murphy gets on the front foot against Wales. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Jordi Murphy unhappy with the way Justin Tipuric invaded heart of Irish ruck

Iain Henderson in action against Wales at the Aviva Stadium. “We gave Wales three silly penalties, three shots at goal and they took them.” Photograph: Reuters

Ulster forward’s athleticism was on show in powerful performance against Wales

Ireland’s Iain Henderson in action in the World Cup warm-up match against Wales at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph:   Cathal McNaughton/Action Images via Reuters/Livepic

Frustration for Paul O’Connell on final international appearance in Ireland

Ireland’s Michael Bent is tackled by Scotland’s Grant Gilchrist during the World Cup warm-up match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. Photo Niall Carson/PA

Michael Bent and Gordon D’Arcy among those in action for Leinster against Moseley

Ireland’s Tommy Bowe will be hoping for an eyecatching performance against Edinburgh.

World Cup hopefuls to get run out against Edinburgh in pre-season friendly this Friday evening

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