Bernard Le Roux and Dan Carter embrace after Racing 92’s win over Toulon. Photograph: AFP

Racing 92 19 Toulon 16 Toulon’s three season reign as the champions of Europe is over after they were beaten in their Champions Cup quarter-final by (...)

Maxime Medard celebrates his try against Ireland with French team-mate Maxime Machenaud during the Six Nations match at  Stade de France. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

A Dublin taxi driver from a strong soccer background told me his grandson came home from his first rugby training session with three simple rugby prin(...)

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt:   was without  three front-line props,  Iain Henderson,  Peter O’Mahony, Luke Fitzgerald,  Tommy Bowe, Keith  Earls and Simon Zebo. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA

Most coaches are perfectionists, even though they well realise the perfect performance is beyond any team they will ever oversee. More often than not,(...)

Ireland flanker Seán O’Brien rises high to collect Rory Best’s lineout delivery during yesterday’s captain’s run at the Stade de France, which will be a 79,000 sell-out for the teams’ Six Nations clash. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

This will not exactly be Paris in springtime. The forecast is for a cold, windy and very wet day; more Irish-type conditions than French, and more lik(...)

Virimi Vakatawa will make his first appearance in a side containing four uncapped players. Photograph: Getty Images

New France coach Guy Noves has made a bold choice by picking Sevens stalwart Virimi Vakatawa on the wing in a new-look team to face Italy in their op(...)

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 Zealand’s centre and Rugby World Cup winner Ma’a Nonu (R), flanked by the Toulon president  Mourad Boudjellal, speaks media at the Felix Mayol Stadium in Toulon. Photo: Getty Images

Ma’a Nonu has arrived at Toulon and immediately set his sights on silverware with the Top 14 club. The rampaging centre is fresh from helping New Zea(...)

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen celebrates victory against France. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

The All Blacks may have produced the best performance of the World Cup so far but this was not enjoyable to watch. This was a humiliation for France,(...)

Louis Picamoles  makes a break during the  match between England and France at Twickenham on Saturday. The big-carrying Toulouse number eight was France’s standout player. Photograph:  Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

The most interesting and revealing case study in these warm-up games from an Irish perspective are undoubtedly France. Ireland’s final pool game again(...)

Frédéric Michalak in action for Toulon against Wasps in the quarter-final of the European Champions Cup. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Just watch his body language, just watch him walking back. This is like your granddad playing outhalf . . . I can’t believe France don’t have a better(...)