Wales coaches Robert Howley  and Warren Gatland  chat ahead of their Six Nations encounter against Italy in Rome. Photograph: Getty Images

All Wales know as they prepare to start the final round of matches against Italy in Rome is that they have to win to remain in contention for the titl(...)

Italy’s players celebrate as Irish referee George Clancy awards them a penalty try at the end of their Six Nations  game with Scotland in Murrayfield. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Scotland prop Alasdair Dickinson has criticised George Clancy following the Irish referee’s performance in Murrayfield.Scotland slumped to their third(...)

Peter Horne will  replace suspended outhalf Finn Russell for Scotland’s Six Nations match against Italy today. Photograph: Russell Cheyne/Inpho.

Scotland against Italy has become the perennial battle to avoid the Six Nations’ wooden spoon. Only once since 2008 have the two sides not finished fi(...)

Ireland outhalf Ian Keatley practices his set-pieces at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on the eve of the Six Nations encounter with Italy. Much will depend on his kicking in the clash against the Azzurri. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho.

Italy v Ireland, Stadio Olimpico, Rome, 2.30pmThe rain may have been slightly dampening the spirits of the initial Irish contingent of supporters cum (...)

Toulon’s Martin Castrogiovanni is playing much looser than previously and is nowhere near as violent in the breakdown. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Image 1:20

Winners also lose – but they never give up. Ireland can – and will – continue their ascendance towards relentless improvements but, nevertheless, t(...)

Ian Keatley, James Cronin, Robbie Henshaw, Tommy O’Donnell and Jared Payne training at Carton House, Co Kildare. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho 0:48

Rather adept though he is at this coaching lark, sometimes you wonder why Joe Schmidt puts himself through it all. Nervous at the best of times, he no(...)

Niamh Briggs and  Nora Stapleton: Ireland will be hoping to repeat their 2013 Grand Slam. They face Italy today in their opening match of the Six Nations.  Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Now more than ever, Ireland could pay heed to the ways of Phil Jackson. The legendary NBA coach rebuilt the Chicago Bulls when Michael Jordan unexpec(...)

  Jérôme Garcès, who sent off Jared Payne in last year’s Heineken Cup, will referee Ireland’s match with Scotland. Photograph: Darren Kidd/INPHO/Presseye

“Not rolling away”, “off his feet”, “in from the side”, “crooked-in”, “forward”, “not releasing”, “dropping his bind” and “boring in”, represent a tin(...)

Leinster’s Jordi Murphy  is in line to start at number eight for Ireland against Italy. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Jordi Murphy and Ian Keatley are in line to make their full Six Nations debut against Italy on Saturday pending Joe Schmidt’s team announcement for I(...)

 Peter O’Mahony battling in his last match at the Stadio Olimpico, a time he calls a “dark old spot”.    Photograph: James Crombie/INPHO

Time heals all wounds. Well, almost. Peter O’Mahony can look back and manage the faintest of wry smiles now but it will never be an experience he wil(...)