Australian referee Angus Gardner will take charge of Ireland’s Six Nations match at home to Italy on March 12th. Photograph: Jason Oxenham/Getty Images

Former Munster player John Lacey and George Clancy are Ireland’s sole referee representatives in the 2016 Six Nations Championship, which gets underwa(...)

Japan players celebrate their momentous victory over South Africa in the pool section – the Brave Blossoms missed out on a place in the quarter-finals but won the hearts of the rugby world. Photograph: Getty Images

Gerry Thornley Match of the tournament? Spoilt for choice. Japan provided the best finish, Australia v Argentina was the most breathless, but t(...)

The All Blacks enjoy a singsong in their dressingroom after winning the Rugby World Cup final 34-17 against Australia at Twickenham on Saturday. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty Images

World Rugby has promised to do more to further close the gap between tier-one and tier-two nations before the next Rugby World Cup (RWC) in Japan, af(...)

 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(...)

Welsh  referee Nigel Owens, seen here officiating the Rugby World Cup quarter-final game between New Zealand and France, will take charge of Saturday’s final between the All Blacks and Australia. Photograph:  Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

Welshman Nigel Owens has been appointed to referee next Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final between New Zealand and Australia at Twickenham, while Irelan(...)

Daniel Carter passes the ball during a New Zealand training session at London Irish in London. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty Images United Kingdom. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images

There’s an aura about them alright. When the All Blacks make a team announcement it’s big news, and Steve Hansen was in his element when a huge media (...)

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen speaks during a  media session at the Oatlands Park hotel in Weybridge. Photograph:  Phil Walter/Getty Images

Steve Hansen doesn’t play the media game, he envelopes it with hard-nosed Kiwi honesty. This was a masterclass. The New Zealand coach quickly state(...)

Ireland’s Jonny Sexton is tackled and injured by France’s Louis Picamoles during the recent match at the Millennium Stadium. The physical attrition in rugby is considerable. Photo: David Davies/PA

By now the GAA is quite practised at coping with big international sporting events involving Irish teams but there was still some apprehension in Crok(...)

Australia head coach Michael Cheika looks on during a training session in London  ahead of their semi-final test against Argentina. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

The World Cup, while cruel to Ireland, was kind on Tuesday to Irish reporters still on the ground in search of an angle. 8am in Teddington and Michael(...)

Craig Joubert, the referee, sprints off the pitch after the final whistle after Scotland are defeated by Australia at Twickenham. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

Even by Ireland’s standards of quarter-final let-downs, Sunday was a bad one. Only twice before had Ireland conceded 43 points in a Rugby World Cup ma(...)