An Ireland fan looks dejected during the IRB RWC Quarter Final match between Ireland and Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium in 2011. Photograph: Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images

1- 1987 Ireland 6 Wales 13 - Athletic Park, Wellington It was two years since Ireland had won the Triple Crown under Mick Doyle(...)

John Cooney comes in at scrumhalf for Connacht with Kieran Marmion out injured. Photograph: Matteo Ciambelli/Inpho

With eight Connacht names in the Emerging Ireland squad, Pat Lam’s side can look forward to travelling to Gloucester with some vim. But David Humphre(...)

Dan Tuohy celebrates Ulster’s victory over Leinster at the  Kingspan Stadium last month. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

After a summer of upheaval, there is a growing sense that Ulster are building something special again, and the rock around which this is being constr(...)

Jared Payne in action against Connacht at the  Sportsgrounds. “It’s massive for us to win some silverware.” Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

It can’t have been easy to be a foreign player compelled to watch his first season from the stands. As Jared Payne recuperated from a ruptured Achill(...)

“The Ulster supporters brought great passion to the occasion and it was matched by the home team.” Photograph: Darren Kidd/Presseye

I endured some brutally physical contests at the old Ravenhill; I enjoyed them too. When Ulster met Munster in Belfast there’d be plenty of moaning as(...)

A teenage Gordon D’Arcy at Ireland squad training in 1998. Photograph: Keith Heneghan/Inpho

First sight of Gordon D’Arcy was on his knees in the background. The snapshot from March 1995 is of Geordan Murphy, his predecessor in the art of evas(...)

Gordon D’Arcy’s announcement does not rule out the possibility of  a World Cup farewell. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

It’s been one of the stellar Irish rugby careers, for sure, and when the end of October comes and Gordon D’Arcy heads into the sunset he can do so (...)

Gloucester captain  Billy Twelvetrees dives to scre a try  against Edinburgh during their European  Challenge Cup final at Twickenham Stoop. Photograph: Getty Images

Edinburgh 13 Gloucester 19 Gloucester survived Bill Meakes’ red card to see off Edinburgh and claim Challenge Cup glory at the Twickenham Stoop, r(...)

Robert Kitson names 11 provincial players in his all-time European Cup best XV, including former Munster number eight Anthony Foley. Photograph: Getty

Time-travelling is always a temptation at this time of year. This week sees the 20th showpiece final in European club rugby’s eventful history and, in(...)

Mils Muliaina’s Connacht salary could have covered the cost of an astonishing 60 academy players. Photograph: Craig Thomas/Inpho

This needs to be the night Mils Muliaina rolls back the years. It could easily be the night his buckled wheels roll into the category of yet another (...)