Ireland’s Iain Henderson in action in the World Cup warm-up match against Wales at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph:   Cathal McNaughton/Action Images via Reuters/Livepic 11:57

Ireland 10 Wales 16 The cascading rain that enveloped the Aviva stadium for the final 10 minutes of the contest provided a suitably leaden hued backdr(...)

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt will be seeking to fine-tune Ireland’s game plan in the weeks ahead. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Prior to the World Cup four years ago, Ireland would have traded four warm-up defeats for four wins in the pool stages, and that is exactly what trans(...)

Saracens lifted the Premiership after a 28-16 win over Bath at Twickenham. Photograph: Reuters

Bath 16 Saracens 28 Saracens created Aviva Premiership history at Twickenham as they beat Bath 28-16 to be crowned English champions for a second time(...)

Dylan Hartley has been dropped from England’s World Cup training squad after he was banned for four weeks for headbutting Saracen’s Jamie George. Photograph: Getty

Dylan Hartley is set to miss the World Cup after being dropped from England’s training squad for disciplinary reasons, head coach Stuart Lancaster has(...)

Connacht’s Eoghan Masterson is shown a yellow card and sinbinned by referee Romain Poite during the European Champions Cup play-off at Kingsholm Stadium. Photograph: Simon Cooper/PA Wire

As one Connacht player put it, when you’re at the bottom of the food chain you get dry bread. It’s often said in team sports that the perceived ‘bigge(...)

 Paddy Butler scores Munster’s  third try in the Guinness Pro 12 play-off at  Thomond Park. Photo:   Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Munster 21 Ospreys 18 Wild celebrations yes, but relief wasn’t the half of it as Munster nearly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory before then s(...)

Connacht’s Mils Muliaina says Australia were his toughest opponents. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

On the first Wednesday of April I had the good fortune to share a stool in Busker Brownes with many legends of our game, including Mils Muliaina. A hu(...)

Toulon flanker Steffon Armitage  collides with Cian Healy during the European Champions Cup  semi final  in Marseille. Photograph: Boris Horvat/AFP/Getty Images

Wales, then Toulon. Seán O’Brien and defeat sit uncomfortably in the same room. His frustrations were audible on Wayne Barnes’s microphone in Cardiff(...)

Leinster outhalf Jimmy Gopperth is a picture of dejection at the final whistle against Toulon. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Leinster scarcely have time to pause for breath, much less for reflection, but looking back on their courageous if dispiriting European Champions Cup (...)

Toulon’s Bryan Habana scores the extra-time try. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Toulon 25 Leinster 20 (aet; 12-12 after 80 minutes) True to their word, Leinster fought the good fight. For 80 minutes of regulation time and a(...)