The  physicality of the collisions  in international rugby is breathtaking  but so too the athletic prowess,  as demonstrated here by  Australia’s Kurtley Beale, who beats team-mate Israel Folau and Ireland’s Rob Kearney to the ball at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

One truth comes screaming out of this week’s debate about the use of strength-enhancing substances in rugby union: even the insiders are slightly bewi(...)

 Jamie Heaslip should be one of the few survivor from when Harlqeuins and Leisnetr last met in 2009.  Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

The Leinster team won’t be selected until Friday. But of the 15 players who started against Harlequins in the 2009 ‘Bloodgate’ quarter-final, probably(...)

Grenoble’s scrumhalf James Hart in action  during the French Top 14 clash against  Toulouse at the Stade Ernest Wallon. Photo: Raymond Roig/Geggy

Grenoble produced arguably the performance of the weekend when they travelled to the Stade Ernest Wallon and beat their hosts Toulouse 25-22 in a pul(...)

Israel Folau training with Wallabies in Donnybrook, Dublin. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

These are exciting times. Back-to-back wins against two of the Southern Hemisphere big three happen about as regularly as Roy Keane avoids a press (...)

Jerry Sexton of Exeter Chiefs embraces teammate Greg Bateman  at the final whistle during the LV= Cup match between Exeter Chiefs and Gloucester at Sandy Park, Exeter, at the weekend. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

The Irish rugby public were probably only concerned with the form and well being of one Sexton this weekend. The Sexton family, however, had a differe(...)

Chris Farrell scores a try for Grenoble  during the French Top 14 match against Racing Metro at the Stade des Alpes in Grenoble. Photograph:   Jean-Pierre Clatot/AFP/Getty Images

Chris Farrell’s initial sporting passion was soccer. Growing up in Fivemiletown, a village in south Tyrone and a short distance from the border with F(...)

Peter Stringer of Bath dives over for a try during the Aviva Premiership match between Bath and Leicester Tigers on Saturday. Photograph:  David Rogers/Getty Images

John O’SullivanThere’s no doubting the performance of the day in the Aviva English Premiership belonged to Bath as they thumped the Leicester Tigers b(...)

 Pau’s new signing James Coughlan: “We both kind of said ‘if we don’t go now, we’ll never go’.” Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho.

The IRFU have succeeded where their Welsh, Scottish and Italian counterparts have largely failed in keeping all their front-line players at home. Even(...)

Aurillac head coach Jeremy Davidson: “I’m looking forward to seeing him [Eddie O’Sullivan]. I left him a message when he was appointed to wish him all the best.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

French club rugby is not noted for the presence of non-French coaches, yet while Bernard Jackman coaches Grenoble in the Top 14, this weekend’s openin(...)

 The signing of Mils Muliaina from the Waikato Chiefs is a clear statement of intent, not only by Connacht  themselves, but by the IRFU. Photograph:  Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

Ever since the IRFU proposed shutting them down as a professional entity 11 years ago, Connacht have been a tad paranoid about the governing body’s in(...)