Paddy Jackson: “Whether it’s Johnny or Mads, we’re going up against each other, but . . .I’ll just be trying to focus on my own game.” Photograph: Stephen Hamilton/Presseye/Inpho

By and large, this season has seen Paddy Jackson’s Test career stall a tad. But his development as an outhalf has progressed significantly, and, lest(...)

Former deputy editor of The Irish Times James “Jim” Downey  at his home in Monkstown, Co Dublin, in October 2009. File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

James Downey had journalism and politics in his blood, but last Wednesday he decided he could wait no longer for a government to be formed, mourners a(...)

Connacht’s 24-year-old prop Finlay Bealham left Ulster to go west in 2011 when he was offered a place in the province’s academy. Photograph: James Crombie/inpho

It’s becoming mantra-like now and not only do all of Connacht’s players play as one but speak as one too. This is a squad that are playing and talkin(...)

Craig Gilroy (left) and Tommy Bowe come in to the Ulster side for their Pro12 game against Zebre in Parma. Photograph: Stephen Hamilton/Inpho.

Zebre v Ulster, Stadio Lanfranchi, Parma, Satuirday, 4pm Irish time (BBC 1) Ulster, like so many teams on this taut run-in for a home semi-final pl(...)

Leinster’s Eoin Reddan and Munster’s Andrew Conway in aerial battle during the sides’ last Pro12 league meeting in December, which Leinster won. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

They’ve had bigger games. They’ve had bigger crowds. But Leinster and Munster have rarely encountered each other in such acute need for league points.(...)

Ulster’s Andrew Trimble in action against Connacht. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

It is a measure of Connacht’s startling progress this season that, uniquely for their second meeting of the season, this tie finds Ulster in far grea(...)

Jared Payne is set to link up with Robbie Henshaw for Ireland’s game against Italy at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

Simon Zebo and Jared Payne are set to be restored to a more familiar looking Irish line-up around lunchtime on Thursday, when Joe Schmidt unveils Ire(...)

Can Ireland win a third Six Nations in a row? Photograph: Getty Images

GERRY THORNLEY How will Ireland fare? A tall order without either of the twin totems for the first time since 1999, made taller still by having Wal(...)

Marty Moore: will move from Leinster to Wasps on a three-year deal at the end of the season. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

The prospect of paying in the region of £250,000 (€328,000) compensation to Wasps in light of Marty Moore having signed a heads of agreement with the(...)

Rory Best: Candidacy will not have been harmed by reports of his half-time rallying call which contributed to Ulster’s comeback from 23-0 down to win in Oyannax . Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Rory Best is the odds-on favourite to be named as the next captain of the Irish rugby team when Joe Schmidt announces a squad of around 36 or 37 playe(...)