France’s Mathieu Bastareaud and Yoann Maestri bring Ireland hooker Rory Best crashing to the Millennium Stadium turf. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho 5:08

The risk is to list out all 23 Irish players and wax lyrical about their extraordinary performance. What harm? They were extraordinary and so too were(...)

Ireland rugby squad training in Newport, Wales. Coach Joe Schmidt believes game against France will be decided on tiniest of margins. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

This is it then. The World Cup has finally arrived for Ireland and France. From now on, things become altogether more serious. For the winners, a seve(...)

Jared Payne will not  face France on Sunday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho 5:54

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(...)

Cian Healy tees off at Celtic Manor in Wales as the Irish squad enjoyed a down day ahead of the World Cup game against FRance on Sunday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho 5:10

Two days out from the biggest games of their respective tenures, Joe Schmidt and Philippe Saint-André are expected to retain the tried and trusted (...)

France’s prop Uini Atonio: “I was like ‘I would love to play for France’, but it was never in my mind.” Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images.

Most biographies of Uini Atonio say his official weight is 155kg, or 24st 6lbs. According to French sources, that was his weight when he pitched up wi(...)

Ireland captain Paul O’Connell is braced for a physical encounter with italy at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday. Photograph: Inpho

Ireland expect to be “battered up front and pushed to the limit” by Italy in Sunday’s crucial World Cup encounter at London’s Olympic Stadium. Captain(...)

Jack McGrath and Cian Healy have traded places – largely due to the latter’s injury profile and McGrath starts against Italy. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

There is always some tinkering, and it always seems to make sense. Besides the evolution of the new centre partnership, ironically blocked at t(...)

Robbie Henshaw is in line to make his World Cup debut in the Pool D game against Italy on Sunday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho 7:17

Akin to other head coaches who have a clear selection strategy in this World Cup, although not all, Joe Schmidt is expected to largely revert to th(...)

 Keith Earls and Simon Zebo were two of Ireland’s standout performers in their 44-10 win over Romania at Wembley. Photograph: Reuters

Another bonus point victory with the 44-10 over Romania and the only caveat in injury terms, appears to be a glute issue sustained by replacement Rob (...)

England captain Chris Robshaw and head coach Stuart Lancaster face the media after their defeat to Wales at Twickenham. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Ten days into the tournament and one could do a PhD on decision-making and psychology. Think of Japan beating South Africa or the Welsh medical sta(...)