Referee Jerome Garces shows Jared Payne a red card after just four minutes of the Heineken Cup quarter-final against Saracens at Ravenhill. Photo: Darren Kidd/Inpho

Ulster paid a bigger price than they should have for something that was clearly an accident

 Leinster head coach Matt O’Connor speaks to his Leinster players before last Saturday’s  RaboDirect Pro12 victory over Munster at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

This still feels like the tail end of the Joe Schmidt era but one big result will change that

Rob Penney (left) will want to end his tenure on a winning note before handing over to Munster favourite Anthony “Axel” Foley. Photograph: Inpho

Foley in tricky situation but winning, starting on Saturday, would make things easier

Irish players celebrate at the final whistle after clinching the Six Nations Championship with victory over France at the  Stade de France in  Paris. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Only six of these players have won a Six Nations before – and one of those is retiring

 Pascal Pape and Hugo Bonneval argue after yet another French pass has gone astray during the Six Nations game against Wales in Cardiff. Photograph:  James Crombie/Inpho

Even in the professional era, the simplest motivation in sport is when no one believes in you

Italy’s Giovambattista Venditti scores his side’s try during the 22-15 victory over Ireland in Rome last year. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

But it’s not enough anymore just to be disciplined and wait for the Italians to hand you the game

Ireland’s Johnathan Sexton watches on as England scrumhalf Danny Care celebrates after scoring his side’s only try at Twickenham.

Ireland’s tactical approach played into the hands of a well-prepared England side

Ireland assistant coach Richie Murphy, forwards coach John Plumtree, assistant coach Les Kiss and head coach Joe Schmidt during training at Carton House yesterday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

A crushing defeat at Twickenham in 2012 marked the start of a new era for Irish rugby

Conor Murray  gets the ball from the maul during the game against Wales as the Irish team drive for the  line. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

There’s a real desire in this Ireland set-up to be the dominant force in every game

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