Ian Madigan, Hayden Triggs and Isaac Boss have some fun at Leinster squad training. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

This will tell us much about Leinster. They’ve backed themselves into quite a corner and both the circumstances of a brutally tough pool along with(...)

New Zealand’s Richie McCaw is tackled by Australia’s David Pocock during the 2015 Rugby Championship. Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

THE BREAKDOWN Richie McCaw Position: Flanker. Age: 34. Height: 1.87m/6’ 2”. Weight: 107kg/16st 12lbs. Caps: 147 (27 tries) Why he’s so importan(...)

Scrumhalf Aaron Smith’s dynamic contributions have enabled New Zealand to play with the fast tempo that has become their hallmark. Photograph:   Phil Walter/Getty Images

Go through the history of the Rugby World Cup and aside from having a celebrated number 10, the eventual champions invariably have the world’s best(...)

Ireland’s captain Paul O’Connell has played his last game for his country. Photograph: The Irish Times

As Rob Kearney said aloud on Tuesday, how on earth can you sum up Paul O’Connell’s contribution to Irish rugby in 30 seconds? You can’t. It’s impossib(...)

Ireland supporters feel the strain during the World Cup Pool D game against Italy at the Olympic Stadium. Photograph:  James Crombie/Inpho

Well, aren’t we the neighbourly lot altogether? All this talk about the tournament losing its spark with England’s exit on Saturday night was hard to (...)

Robbie Henshaw during a gym session at  Surrey Sports Park in Guildford on Tuesday. The Connacht centre is in line to make his World Cup debut against Italy next Sunday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Rob Kearney could conceivably play against Italy on Sunday but his glute strain is being managed with a view to a full recovery ahead of the French ga(...)

Rob Kearney scores Ireland’s fifth try during the Rugby World Cup match against Romania at Wembley Stadium in London. Photograph: David Davies/PA

There’s no point pussy-footing around this, or pussy-footing around the language: TV3’s World Cup panel needs a shit-stirrer. Don’t get me wrong. In m(...)

Ian Madigan may have to feature at scrum half with Ireland just bringing Eoin Reddan and Conor Murray to the World Cup. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Joe Schmidt admitted it was a calculated risk. Isaac Boss and Kieron Marmion stay at home with Ian Madigan prepared to slot in at scrumhalf if the (...)

Conor Murray is confident going into his second World Cup. “We are in a very good place and I don’t think we should be shying away from that,” he says. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

This time four years ago it’s still remarkable to think that Conor Murray went into Ireland’s World Cup preparatory programme as fifth choice scrumhal(...)

TV3 rugby panelist and former Ireland captain Keith Wood. The station has secured the rights to the Rugby World Cup. Photograph: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

It seems a little early for autumn launches but yesterday TV3 set out its stall to advertisers. “We’re borrowing from the American model of ‘upfronts(...)