Ireland failed to make it out of the pool of death at the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Photograph: Getty

Ireland head into the 2015 World Cup with legitimate hopes of winning it, and this is based on something with far more substance than the usual hopefu(...)

Tonga celebrate after their 19-14 win over France in the 2011 World Cup. Photograph: Getty

The biggest shocks landed at the Rugby World Cup have invariably come from the Pacific Island nations, whose athleticism and physicality has sometimes(...)

New Zealand thrashed 14-man Wales 49-6 in their 1987 World Cup semi-final. Photograph: Getty

Wales have reached two World Cup semi-finals and on both occasions they have come away with questions of what might have been having had a man sent of(...)

Robert Kitson names 11 provincial players in his all-time European Cup best XV, including former Munster number eight Anthony Foley. Photograph: Getty

Time-travelling is always a temptation at this time of year. This week sees the 20th showpiece final in European club rugby’s eventful history and, in(...)

From left: Denis Leamy, Ronan O’Gara, David Wallace, Simon Easterby, Gordon D’Arcy, Girvan Dempsey, Denis Hickie and Shane Horgan on St Patrick’s Day 2007 as Ireland took on Italy in Stadio Olimpico. Photograph: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Grand Slams are the holy grail, all the more so when a country has only won two of them in 120 years of trying. But championship titles aren’t to be s(...)

Mathieu Bastareaud is a go-to man for France and Johnny Sexton should expect to see a lot of him on Saturday. Photograph: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

Although the margins between the sides have been wafer thin, sometimes non-existent in recent years, Philippe Saint-André has portrayed his team as un(...)

Glasgow’s Jonny Gray wins the battle for possession with Montpellier’s Sitaleki Timani during the European Rugby Champions match at Altrad Stadium. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

POOL FOUR Montpellier 13 Glasgow 15Gregor Townsend and his Glasgow Warriors took a giant leap towards the Champions Cup quarter-finals with a 15-13 tr(...)

 Referee Nigel Owens in discussion with  All Black captain Richie McCaw during Sunday’s Test against  Ireland.  Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty Images.

Watching it a second time isn’t any easier. Entering the last 10 minutes, the BBC co-commentator Philip Matthews described it as “the biggest 10 minut(...)

Montpellier’s livewire Jonathan Pelissie could play a vital role in Pool 5. Photograph: Getty

POOL 1Castres OlympiqueBest: semi-finalists 2001-02.ERC European Ranking: 25.HC record: Pl 58, Wins 23, Draws 1, Losses 34.Suffering second season syn(...)

 Maxime Medard of France celebrates after scoring a try during the Six Nations match against Scotland at Stade de France. Photograph: Scott Heavey/Getty Images

France finally collected their first win of the Six Nations campaign at the Stade de France as two quickfire tries proved decisive against Sco(...)