Ireland rugby squad training in Newport, Wales. Coach Joe Schmidt believes game against France will be decided on tiniest of margins. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

This is it then. The World Cup has finally arrived for Ireland and France. From now on, things become altogether more serious. For the winners, a seve(...)

Jared Payne will not  face France on Sunday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho 5:54

The French would have been mid-session this afternoon when word filtered through that Keith Earls will be wearing number 13 for Ireland on Sunday at t(...)

Ireland’s lock and captain Paul O’Connell stretches during a team training session in Newport. Photograph: Getty Images

Who would have known that Paul O’Connell was so thoughtful - the Irish captain presents his in-camp room mate with a brand new set of ear plugs each w(...)

Mathieu Bastareaud, who looks leaner and fitter, in action against Canada at Stadium MK, Milton Keynes. Photograph: Reuters

A vaincre sans peril, on triomphe sans gloire. Roughly translated: To win without peril (is) to triumph without glory. There was a time when French(...)

Jonathan Sexton says the French are not interested in winning the Six Nations. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

A decision on Jared Payne’s fitness is expected to come out of Ireland’s new residence, Celtic Manor outside Newport, by lunch time Tuesday. The 29-ye(...)

Ireland struggled at times against Italy and captain Paul O’Connell feels the gameplan possibly needs to change. Photo: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Paul O’Connell is adamant Ireland need to hold on to the ball more, which to the untrained eye must seem an odd comment considering the amount John(...)

Rory Best was one of the few good performers for Ireland in their World Cup Pool D clash with Italy. Photo: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

Ireland were caught in a vortex of errors, pushed passes, handling mistakes, kicks that drifted too far and some questionable decision-making that jar(...)

Italy fullback Luke McLean: “We realise that we will have to be virtually perfect if we’re to have any chance to come away with a win.” Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty

Luke McLean, Italy’s long-since naturalised Aussie who has played for his adopted country 72 times, is one of only four players in their squad born(...)

Cian Healy charges through the Romania defence. Ireland went on to win 44-10. Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire

Just as it’s difficult to see any fault in a 44-10 win, is it hard to feel overly confident in facing Italy and France with big wins over Canada and R(...)

 South Africa’s Duane Vermeulen: “If we don’t win we are out. We have to give our all. I’m ready to do that.” Photo:  Steve Haag/Gallo Images

A history of violence. Recent cuddlings of these gargantuan men is drenched in bloody yet wincingly enjoyable rugby. There have been 50-pointer(...)