Peter O’Mahony gets in ahead of Chris Robshaw in the lineout. Tommy O’Donnell had a hand in a complex move off a lineout shortly after coming on, showing the players’ knowledge of their roles. Photograph: James Crombie/INPHO 6:46

Whether you have talent or not, in business or in sport, the most important predictor of success the world over is grit. On 28 minutes Paul O’Connell (...)

 George Ford and Jonathon Joseph have been  combining superbly for club and country. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

When it comes to England, I’m a five second man. There are many battles ahead on Sunday such as my absolute favourite: Mike Ross and Joe Marler at scr(...)

France’s Vincent Debaty  made a big impact on his introduction against Ireland and had a hand in the French try. Photo: Franck Fifefrank/AFP/Getty

Last Monday I highlighted the crucial timing of the bench’s entry. This of course is only part of the story. Not long ago being selected on the bench (...)

Paul O’Connell and his team-mates had the character and fitness levels to withstand the charge of the French bench in the second half. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

The Great AK was right; ‘no amount of analytical physics can open a door’ but in the end energy, team spirit and tactical nous can close many a French(...)

France winger Teddy Thomas offloads against Scotland. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho 7:01

Ad Utrumque Paratus, the motto of many academies and universities, comes to mind. It means ‘prepared for either’, where the book and the sword were be(...)

Tommy O’Donnell breaks away from the Italian defence to score Ireland’s second try at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Photograph: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty 2:48

I start where I left off on Friday – patient play with green grass field position in mind, allied to Italy’s non-engagement in the breakdown, will pro(...)

Toulon’s Martin Castrogiovanni is playing much looser than previously and is nowhere near as violent in the breakdown. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Image 1:20

Winners also lose – but they never give up. Ireland can – and will – continue their ascendance towards relentless improvements but, nevertheless, t(...)

A screengrab of the ruck which Wasps’ number eight Nathan Hughes sprung through to score a try and prevent Leinster winning in the Ricoh Arena.

Sitting in Slattery’s pub on Grand Canal Street Dublin 4, I thought Leinster looked comfortable against Wasps. That was until Wasps’ number eight Nath(...)

Wasps’ James Haskell is no Vunipola but he does damage, partly because of his physique but mainly because of his attitude. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty

‘I coulda’ been a contender,” laments Terry Malloy to his brother Charley ‘The Gent’. “Instead of a bum, which is what I am – let’s face it”. Marlon B(...)

Billy Vunipola of Saracens. Vunipola will be one of Munster’s main challenges when they face Saracens at Allianz Park. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

“They are demanding . . . not necessarily demanding of the finest rugby skills but they are demanding of passion . . . They want to see you wear your (...)