Bath drive over on their way to a penalty try in their European Champions Cup victory over Leinster at the Recreation Ground, Bath, on Saturday. Photograph:  Dan Sheridan/Inpho

The numbers brook no argument. Leinster conceded seven penalties at the scrum, according to the official figures, one of which was adjudged to merit a(...)

 Josh van der Flier runs in for his side’s try during the European Champions Cup game against Bath at The Recreation Ground. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Bath 19 Leinster 16 Rejuvenated by their Kiwi contingent, there was no shame in losing this game to a 77th minute penalty. Mentally and physica(...)

Saracens celebrate Billy Vunipola’s bonus-point try at the end of the European Champions Cup game at Ravenhill. Photograph:   Niall Carson/PA Wire

Ulster 9 Saracens 27 Well beaten by a superior force. Here we witnessed a fate that may continue to befall the provinces in major Champions Cup games (...)

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(...)

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(...)

New Zealand’s winger Nehe Milner-Skudder  evades South Africa’s flanker François Louw  during the  semi-final  of the 2015 Rugby World Cup  at Twickenham on Saturday. Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images

“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” – Edmund Hillary, the first man to conquer Met Everest For the ages. The greatest team of all time (...)

New Zealand’s Jerome Kaino scores his side’s first try during the Rugby World Cup semi-final against South Africa at Twickenham. Photograph:  David Davies/PA

New Zealand 20 South Africa 18 “It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves,” - Edmund Hillary For the ages. The greatest team of all time met an(...)

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(...)

A grounded Ian Madigan tries to stop Pablo Matera. Photograph: Matteo Ciambelli/Inpho 1:19

Ireland’s glass ceiling remains unbroken. Joe Schmidt was at pains not to use the injury count as an excuse. Even though it’s a valid one. “We’ve sust(...)

Ireland outhalf Jonathan Sexton, who has recovered from a groin strain, during the captain’s run at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Now it’s win or bust time. If Ireland are to boldly go where no other has gone before, they’re going to have to do it without three warriors up front (...)