Mike McCarthy: “If you don’t front up physically, if you come second best you are not going to win the game.” Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Straw clutching down Carton House way. A staid media afternoon before the daunting Welsh opener should not be taken as reflecting the mood in the Ire(...)

Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal wants his club to play in the English league.

Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal has written to the English Premiership clubs about the possibility of his reigning European champions joining Engla(...)

RC Toulon’s Australian fullback James OConnor  vies with Bath’s Fijian wing Semesa Rokoduguni  during the European Champions Cup rugby union match at the Mayol stadium in Toulon, France. Photograph: Getty Images

Toulon 12 Bath 9 Bath came agonisingly close to a little piece of history beside the Mediterranean but, barring something extraordinary, their Champi(...)

 Rob Kearney is tackled by Mathieu Bastareaud during Leinster’s Champions Cup match against Toulon at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

The other week Leinster had a bad time. Thrashed about on the French Riviera, a mere six days later they briefly morphed into enforcers. Pity they we(...)

Johnny Sexton tackles Ma’a Nonu during Leinster’s Champions Cup defeat to Toulon at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Inpho

Leinster 16 Toulon 20 The other week Leinster had a bad time. Thrashed about on the French Riviera, a mere six days later they morphed into enforcers(...)

Jack McGrath has been favoured in the Leinster frontrow to Cian Healy, who will be on the bench. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

As dead rubbers go, this is not actually a dud. For starters, technically speaking Leinster’s hopes of advancing to the knockout stages for the 11th t(...)

Toulon centre Ma’a Nonu runs at Leinster outhalf  Jonathan Sexton during the Champions Cup game  at the Stade Felix Mayol. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Toulon 24 Leinster 9 Leinster were brave and obdurate beyond dispute, but they will wonder what might have been had their performance been more acc(...)

New Zealander Maa Nonu in action for Toulon against Agen at the weekend: what Toulon are doing, while amazing to watch, is concocted in Mourad Boudjellal’s office. Photograph: Bertrand langlois/AFP

With the big picture barely sketched by Leo Cullen and Girvan Dempsey, a trip to Toulon is hardly the time for experimentation. This calls for an accu(...)

New Zealand’s Ma’a Nonu during his debut for Toulon against Agen. Photograph: Bertrand Langlois/AFP/Getty Images

Ma’a Nonu’s debut for Toulon commandeered the headlines in a 53-23 home victory over Agen in the French Top 14 Championship. The double World Cup win(...)

Toulon’s Mathieu Bastareaud and Guilhem Guirado tackle Rob Kearney of Leinster in last year’s European Rugby Champions Cup semi-final. Toulon are second favourites to win their fourth Cup in a row. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

For better or for worse, the European Champions Cup is upon us again. The hangover in European rugby still lingers after the World Cup amid general ru(...)