Italy’s Giovambattista Venditti scores his side’s try during the 22-15 victory over Ireland in Rome last year. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

I always tell people I owe my rugby career to the Italians. As a young man, I got in a fight in Bruno’s chipper in Tipperary town and it blosso(...)

Ireland’s Johnathan Sexton watches on as England scrumhalf Danny Care celebrates after scoring his side’s only try at Twickenham.

The deflation among the Irish at Twickenham last Saturday was so real you could nearly reach out and touch it. I hung around the stadium when t(...)

Ireland assistant coach Richie Murphy, forwards coach John Plumtree, assistant coach Les Kiss and head coach Joe Schmidt during training at Carton House yesterday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho 1:55

In 2004 Ireland won a Triple Crown that ignited an unrivalled period of success. It was the transfer of Munster’s winning mentality and Leinste(...)

Conor Murray  gets the ball from the maul during the game against Wales as the Irish team drive for the  line. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

John Plumtree didn’t bring the lineout maul with him from Durban but it’s undoubtedly become a potent Irish weapon again. It shouldn’t b(...)

Sam Warburton, seen here in action as a replacement against Italy, will captain Wales from the start against Ireland on Saturday. Photograph:  Stu Forster/Getty Images.

Ever since the games ended last weekend, I’ve heard lots of people come up with a theory that I find confusing. Basically, the thinking goes that it w(...)

 Wing Simon Zebo runs in the first try during Ireland’s opening  Six Nations game against  Wales last year  at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

To listen to Irish people talking about the Six Nations, you’d nearly think we were the defending champions. You’d certainly think we had won more tha(...)

John Afoa of Ulster crashes into Leicester’s Graham Kitchener in the Heineken Cup game at Welford Road. Photograph: Andrew Fosker/ Inpho/Presseye

There’s something a little bit different about the quarter-final line-up in the Heineken Cup that sets it apart from other years. It’s not often we re(...)

Because Seán O’Brien has such phenomenal leg drive tacklers go low because they know it’s the only way to bring him down. If leg-tackled, he  pivots to lay the ball back and right away the scrumhalf is in to take crisp, clean ball. That’s what makes him so valuable. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Watching Leinster play without Seán O’Brien on Sunday, only confirmed again how difficult it will be for them if and when he moves to France. It was a(...)

Alan Quinlan believes referee Alain Rolland was wrong to award a penalty against Paul O’Connell and issue him with a yellow card, and thus deny Munster at least a bonus point, Quinlan believes, in theirRabo Direct Pro 12 29-19 defeat against Ulster at Ravenhill. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

There’s no denying I was a bit frustrated on television the other night after Ulster’s win over Munster. I ended up causing a bit of a stir for what I(...)

 Northampton Saints’ Ken Pisi is tackled by Leinster’s Dave Kearney last weekend. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

At the Aviva on Saturday, the ferocity and physicality really stood out. It really made a mockery of the idea put forward by some English journalists (...)