Jordi Murphy replaced Jamie Heaslip as number eight in Ireland’s first Six Nations game of the year against Italy. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

The normally indestructible Jamie Heaslip has become such a part of the furniture in the Ireland camp over the last eight seasons that, well, even (...)

The opening wins away to Wales and at home to Italy have heightened belief among England fans that, as in 2003, this year’s championship will serve as another Grand Slam en route to the World Cup.

In many respects, next Sunday is looking like twice the event and twice the challenge, on and off the pitch. Time was when Sunday games were seen as a(...)

Rhapsody in blue: Brian O’Driscoll was often the prime exponent of offloads in Schmidt’s teams. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Ireland stand on the brink of history. Victory against England would equal the all-time Irish record of 10 wins in succession achieved in 2002 and 200(...)

Referee Wayne Barnes shows Pascal Papé a yellow card for kneeing Jamie Heaslip at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The independent disciplinary panel which handed French lock Pascal Papé a ten week ban yesterday for kneeing Jamie Heaslip in the back did so after d(...)

Referee Wayne Barnes shows Pascal Papé a yellow card for kneeing Jamie Heaslip at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The independent disciplinary panel which handed French lock Pascal Papé a ten week ban yesterday for kneeing Jamie Heaslip in the back did so after d(...)

Jamie Heaslip is out of the England encounter with broken vertebrae. Photograph:  Michael Steele/Getty Images

Ireland’s seemingly most durable and indestructible player, Jamie Heaslip, remains the only casualty from last Saturday’s uber-physical, bosh fest wi(...)

Robbie Henshaw in action during Ireland’s open training session with Connacht at the Sportsground  in Galway. Photo: Bily Stickland/Inpho

For Robbie Henshaw this must have been slightly odd. There he was, this modest, grounded 20-year-old, training against his Connacht team-mates on his (...)

The clash that led to Johnny Sexton and Mathieu Bastareaud ending up in the blood bin at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho. 7:17

Every time rugby is in danger of becoming too one-dimensional the game’s governing body, World Rugby (formerly IRB), have generally devised law change(...)

Ireland’s wing Simon Zebo (C) holds the ball during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and France at Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Dampening expectation is one of Joe Schmidt’s most constant themes but after the 18-11 victory over France set up a Six Nations Anglo-Irish summit mee(...)

RBS 6 Nations Championship, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 14/2/2015Ireland vs France Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

It was all we’ve come to expect from modern-day Test rugby, brutally physical, suffocatingly tight, as taut as a wire and absorbing until the very fin(...)