The first half was lively. The second? Well, usually some of us would have enjoyed yesterday’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final a bit more than your average rugby half, but, okay, yes, it was a bit good. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Have you ever seen the like? Of course you haven’t. Were you stretched by the end of it? Of course you were. But come the weekend’s conclusion, if you(...)

‘Kool and the Gang’: Keith Wood was full of praise for Mike Ross during Ireland’s Six Nations defeat of England at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

So did you pop out yesterday in the sunshine for a pound of butter? And then have to slide your way back like a Nordic skier? All the time fretting ab(...)

The three Mescalleros: Brent Pope, Tom McGurk and George Hook.

“In the beginning the IRFU had a heart attack. How dare we talk about rugby like this,” said Tom McGurk of the sharp shooting RTÉ rugby panel of Georg(...)

Matt Hopper of Harlequins is tackled by Alapati Leiua and James Haskell of Wasps during the European Rugby Champions Cup match at Twickenham Stoop. Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Harlequins coach Conor O’Shea has warned Leinster that they will face a searching test when they travel to take on Wasps in next weekend’s crunch Cham(...)

Harlequins director of rugby Conor O’Shea agrees that English club rugby is on the up but is not convinced the overall quality has greatly improved. Photograph: Tom Shaw/Getty Images

In the week that JJ Hanrahan’s regrettable departure to Northampton was confirmed, the threat looming over the provinces from the English Premiership (...)

Charlie Matthews is sin-binning during Harlequins’ 14-13 Champions Cup defeat to Leinster last Saturday

Harlequins second row Charlie Matthews has had a citing complaint made against him following Leinster’s 14-13 European Champions Cup victory last Satu(...)

French referee Romain Poite shows Charlie Matthews of Harlequins a yellow card late in the clash against Leinster at the Aviva Stadium. Photo:  Michael Steele/Getty Images

This must be what it feels like to attend American Football. With some French thrown in for good measure. Television match official Eric Gonthier and(...)

Leinster’s most effective ball-carrier Jamie Heaslip is tackled by Matt Hopper of Harlequins. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Leinster remain the great survivors but greatness departed with Johnny Sexton in the summer of 2013. That short-sighted error continues to haunt the M(...)

Leinster flanker Rhys Ruddock leaves the pitch with his right arm in a sling following the European Champions Cup win over Saracens. Photograph:  Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Rhys Ruddock’s arm injury looks set to curtail the 24-year-old’s breakthrough season at Test level. Capped at openside wing forward in the big Novembe(...)

 Birr Castle’s Winter Wonderland children’s festival begins this weekend. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Christmas FairsChristmas comes early to Birr Castle demesne this weekend for the Winter Wonderland children’s festival. Beginning on Saturday and runn(...)