Simon Zebo tries to break free from Welsh tacklers at Aviva Stadium. “Scotland wax lyrical at their man Stuart Hogg but Zebo has better lines and given more opportunity can cut any defence apart.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

So we were all wrong; the toughest 20 days of Joe Schmidt’s journey began yesterday with a draw to Wales; it could have been better but it could have (...)

Ireland’s CJ Stander with Jack McGrath at the end of the Six Nations game against Wales at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Brutal collisions of bone and muscle, where the gainline was often measured in millimetres of turf, the physical toll equally exacting whether in pos(...)

Exeter Chiefs are through to the Champions Cup quarter-finals after a sensational set of results in Pool Two. Photograph: Inpho

Exeter coach Rob Baxter was left to reflect on “an incredible finale” after his team secured an unlikely place in the Champions Cup quarter-finals aft(...)

Richard Cockerill, Leicester director of rugby: chuffed with the grit, cohesion and workrate of his team in Thomond Park victory last weekend. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Examining the runes of previous contests and taking solace from the fact that the away side – the 2002 Heineken Cup final at the Millennium stadium d(...)

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 (...)