France’s Morgan Parra and Brice Dulin try to halt New Zealand centre Ma’a Nonu at the Millennium Stadium. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Richie McCaw turns and leads with a glance. The other unsmiling giants immediately know the command is rapidity. Seven disciples, led by Kieran Read, (...)

France’s Mathieu Bastareaud and Yoann Maestri bring Ireland hooker Rory Best crashing to the Millennium Stadium turf. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The risk is to list out all 23 Irish players and wax lyrical about their extraordinary performance. What harm? They were extraordinary and so too were(...)

Thierry Dusautoir: “Of course against New Zealand it is going to be the toughest, they are the best team in the world.”

Yoann Maestri is surprisingly a gentle soul. After this almost insipid French showing this beast of a Toulouse lock went, armed with his number five j(...)

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(...)

Remy Grosso will make his France Test debut against Canada. Photograph: Afp

France have opted to rest number eight Louis Picamoles and will give wing Remy Grosso his first Rugby World Cup start in the Pool D match against Cana(...)

Illustration: Alan Clarke

I never thought I’d see my teenage son back in nappies. I say it to him as well and he looks at me like I’ve just questioned his manhood. “It’s not(...)

 Yoann Maestri of France dives over to score a try during the  Six Nations match against  Italy  at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Italy 0 France 29France overpowered a lacklustre Italy side in Rome in a scrappy Six Nations clash to recover from back-to-back defeats to Ireland and(...)

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre. “He may  be a practical coach but the French media stone him for his inability to settle upon a team.” Photograph: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

Only place to begin is at the end of Paris. When the Ides of March were overcome.Sexton had been carted off (not an omen just another reason to avoid (...)

Thierry Dusautoir of France and Philippe Saint Andre pose with the Six Nations trophy at the Hurlingham club in London. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

The Six Nations launch is a curious affair where the Six Nations coaches and captains congregate to answer largely hypothetical questions in a courte(...)

Bath’s Francois Louw dives over for the bonus-point try during the European Rugby Champions Cup match against Toulouse at Stade Ernest Wallon. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

European Champions Cup round-up: Francois Louw scored Bath’s fourth try in the closing stages to complete a bonus-point 35-18 European Champions Cup v(...)