England’s 10-12 axis of George Ford and Owen Farrell will not win too many collisions, so they are tasked with creating space. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images.

Winning in Twickenham comes down to rugby’s essential non-negotiable: a player either makes or creates space. Go over defenders or ghost past them. W(...)

Ulster’s Ian Humphreys: “You have to fight that bit harder for recognition and respect, not in a bad way, but you know you are on your own.” Photograph: Darren Griffiths/Presseye/Inpho

The last decade has shown that club loyalty in rugby is only as strong as the contract. The business of sport has ensured that. Leaving, as Johnny Se(...)

Ian Madigan new deal with Bordeaux-Bègles is believed to be at least €500,000 a season. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ian Madigan’s understandable decision to sign a two-year contract with Union Bordeaux-Bègles (UBB) brings Irish rugby to a crossroads. Whether the 26(...)

Sonny Bill Williams offloads to Ma’a Nonu, who shredded the Australia defence to score New Zealand’s second try of the final. Photograph: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

New Zealand 34 Australia 17 So sometimes sport leaves no room for argument and does do perfect finales after all. The best team of the last fou(...)

Richie McCaw and Dan Carter hold aloft the Webb Ellis Cup after New Zealand’s win over Australia in the World Cup Final at Twickenham. Photograph:      Stu Forster/Getty Images

New Zealand 34 Australia 17 Simply the best, and perhaps now the best of all time. In any event, it’s hard to argue a case for a better team in(...)

 Michael Cheika arrives for the World Cup semi-final against Argentina at Twickenham. Cheika has led Australia to a first World Cup final in 12 years. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Listening to Michael Cheika calmly take all refereeing decisions on the chin, it’s been hard to equate this remodelled man with the coach who once ber(...)

All Blacks prepare to perform the Haka before last week’s semi-final victory over South Africa at Twickenham. Photograph: Getty Images.

The top-two sides in the world. The two most complete sides in the tournament. The world’s best referee. The forecast is set fair, for Twickenham, (...)

New Zealand’s Richie McCaw is tackled by Australia’s David Pocock during the 2015 Rugby Championship. Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

THE BREAKDOWN Richie McCaw Position: Flanker. Age: 34. Height: 1.87m/6’ 2”. Weight: 107kg/16st 12lbs. Caps: 147 (27 tries) Why he’s so importan(...)

Centre Matt Giteau is a popular member of the Australia squad. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

As the tournament progressed The Giteau Rule made England’s four-year plan to be successful at their own tournament look badly flawed. If Australia ma(...)

Australia’s Adam Ashley Cooper, Scott Fardy, Scott Sio, Israel Folau and Michael Hooper after the press conference. Photograph: Henry Browne/Reuters

Michael Cheika insists Australia have ignored messages of goodwill hailing their passage into the World Cup final as they refuse to target anything ot(...)