Back in harness: the return of Jonathan Sexton (centre, against Bayonne) to the European Champions Cup  should strengthen Racing Metro in Sunday’s quarter-final. Photograph: Iroziroz Gaizka/AFP/Getty Images

It’s a little surprising to be reminded that this is actually a meeting of the first and eighth seeds in the Champions Cup, with Racing advancing to (...)

Wales secondrow Luke Charteris (scrum cap) and Jamie Roberts tackle Jamie Heaslip during the Six Nations match at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Photograph:   Billy Stickland/Inpho

Wales lock Luke Charteris has played down his record-breaking heroics during Wales’ stirring Six Nations victory over Ireland.The secondrow giant mad(...)

Wales’ Sam Warburton is tackled by Ireland’s Jack McGrath at the Millennium Stadium. Warburton was simply immense in both defence and at the breakdown. Photograph: Crispin Rodbwell/Inpho 6:29

According to Winston Churchill to improve is to change but to be perfect is to change often. With six and a half minutes left Ireland were four point(...)

 Simon Zebo upended in the tackle.  Wales racing into a 12-0 lead threw a spanner in the works of this well-oiled Irish machine. Photograph:   Michael Steele/Getty Images

The pressure told; the pressure of the occasion maybe and, the shoe on the other foot, the scoreboard pressure applied on Ireland by Wales, who were m(...)

Wales captain Sam Warburton celebrates after Saturday’s victory over Irealnd at the Millennium Stadium. Photograph: Reuters

Captain Sam Warburton hailed spoiling Ireland’s Grand Slam hopes as among his best moments in Test rugby after Wales’ stubborn 23-16 victory in Cardif(...)

Simon Zebo of Ireland is upended during the Six Nations match between Wales and Ireland at the Millennium Stadium. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images 4:42

It was Tomás Ó Sé who coined the phrase “you hammer the hammer” in reference to beating a team by targeting, and thereby negating, their primary st(...)

Ireland outhalf  Johnny Sexton gestures during the Six  Nations match against Wales  at the Millennium Stadium in  Cardiff. Photograph:  David Davies/PA 4:42

Joe Schmidt bemoaned a lack of accuracy at key moments as Ireland’s Grand Slam hopes disappeared in a 23-16 defeat to Wales at the Millennium Stadium.(...)

Wales,  with the exception of Samson Lee and Luke Charteris, are all superb at the breakdown. And their flankers think their way around very similar to Australians.  Photo: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty

I wanted England to beat Wales in Cardiff. The Welsh were Ireland’s greatest threat and them losing first time out at home was important. With Wales t(...)

Devin Toner aims to better his rucking by replicating Paul O’Connell’s technique. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The words ‘Grand’ and ‘Slam’ have become toxic this week in the Ireland camp. They have been locked in the dirty word box along with others that spel(...)

Wales lost seven of 18 lineouts in the first two matches, coughing up four against England and three to the Scots. They didn’t lose a single lineout against France the last day, winning all 10 throws.

Mark Twain’s assertion that ‘facts are stubborn things but statistics are pliable’, is a pretty good description of how the same set of numbers can(...)