Ireland’s Sean O’Brien gave a wonderfully bullish performance against France. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Leaders fall and others instantly rise up. Three, possibly four men lost, the Millennium became Seán O’Brien’s field, while Rory Best was only phenome(...)

Jared Payne will not  face France on Sunday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

The French would have been mid-session this afternoon when word filtered through that Keith Earls will be wearing number 13 for Ireland on Sunday at t(...)

France have vowed to hunt down Johnny Sexton in Sunday’s Rugby World Cup clash at the Millennium Stadium. Photograph: Afp

The pre-match psychological warfare in advance of Sunday’s Pool D showdown was ratcheted up a notch or two yesterday, with plenty of musings from Raci(...)

Louis Picamoles  makes a break during the  match between England and France at Twickenham on Saturday. The big-carrying Toulouse number eight was France’s standout player. Photograph:  Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

The most interesting and revealing case study in these warm-up games from an Irish perspective are undoubtedly France. Ireland’s final pool game again(...)

Anthony Watson goes over to score his and England’s  second try during the World Cup warm-up match against France at Twickenham. Photograph: David Davies/PA

England 19 France 14 Sam Burgess and Henry Slade played themselves into World Cup contention as England marked their 100th meeting with France with an(...)

 Marcelo Bosch of Saracens kicks the winning penalty during the European Rugby Champions Cup quarter-final against Racing Metro 92  at Stade Yves Du Manoir  in Paris. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Racing Metro 11 Saracens 12Sporting history is not littered with too many examples of English teams being saved from oblivion by the boot of an Argent(...)

Wales captain Sam Warburton, with his knee iced up,  celebrates with team-mate Dan Lydiate after the victory over France at the Stade de France. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Wales are sweating on skipper Sam Warburton’s fitness after he took a blow to his knee during the 20-13 Six Nations victory over France in Paris.Wales(...)

Mathieu Bastareaud is a go-to man for France and Johnny Sexton should expect to see a lot of him on Saturday. Photograph: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

Although the margins between the sides have been wafer thin, sometimes non-existent in recent years, Philippe Saint-André has portrayed his team as un(...)

It is believed the French are considering promoting Morgan Parra at scrumhalf to start against Ireland at The Aviva Stadium on Saturday. Photograph: Getty Images.

No games seem set to define Ireland’s calendar year, and perhaps even the Joe Schmidt era, more than the meetings with the French. It was in Paris las(...)

Johnny Sexton talks Racing Métro, ‘Charlie Hebdo’, fatherhood, goal-kicking and going to the Louvre to “spend 40 quid on two coffees”. Photograph: INPHO/James Crombie

He’s home and in Ireland camp for three weeks for a targeted comeback in round two at home to France. He’s also coming home with a four-year deal to p(...)