Paul O’Connell celebrates scoring on his Ireland debut. Photograph: Inpho

From a try on debut to a career ending injury, here are 10 defining Paulie moments

Ireland’s CJ Stander with Jack McGrath at the end of the Six Nations game against Wales at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Loosehead prop disappointed Ireland were unable to capitalise on quick start

The new law application came into effect in the Southern Hemisphere on January 1st and will apply in Northern Hemisphere from June 1st.  Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

From June 1st in Europe, the ball carrier must start at the front of the maul

Ireland’s Will Connors is tackled by Harrison Keddie of Wales during the Under 20 Six Nations clash at Donnybrook. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Home side will be suitably frustrated following an error-strewn performance

From fullback to number eight, John O’Sullivan looks at how the individual battles might unfold this weekend

George North: “I want to be on the wing. I want to have that space to run at people.” Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Powerful Wales winger frustrated by his largely curtailed role at Northampton

Ireland Under-20  James Ryan in action against a Leinster Development side. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Ireland have bulkier pack this season and will aim for strong start at Donnybrook

James Cronin: “I was happy enough to sign for Munster for three years. If you’re playing well in any sport you’re going to be wanted and luckily for me I was wanted at home.”

With a new Munster contract in place, prop now looking forward to possible third cap

Lansdowne secondrow James Ryan will captain Ireland under-20 in their opening Six Nations game agaainst Wales at Donnybrook on Friday night. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Lansdowne’s James Ryan to captain new-look side

Jared Payne in action during Ireland training at Carton House. Photograph:   Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Ulster star relishing opportunity to make up for defeat in Cardiff last year

Sean O’Brienmissed training on Wednesday ahead of Ireland’s Six Nations opener against Wales. Photograph: Inpho

Backrow absent with tight hamstring as a precaution before Six Nations opener

Leinster’s Rhys Ruddock in action against Toulon. Ruddock has been in excellent form for the province in recent matches and is in the running to wear the Ireland number six jersey against Wales. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Leinster flanker has never played against Wales, the country his father led to Grand Slam

Scrumhalf Conor Murray takes a selfie with young supporters during Ireland’s open training session at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Ireland scrumhalf enjoys benefits of IRFU system and never considered going abroad

Darren Sweetnam will make his for competitive appearance for Munster against Zebre. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.

Anthony Foley mixed youth with experience as Munster’s fortunes improve

Stuart Olding (right) will return to the Ulster side after a long injury absence. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho.

Stuart Olding’s return after serious injury a real boost for Ben Kiss’s side

Adam Byrne will make his second appearance for Leinster three years after his first. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Coach Leo Cullen travels to Rodney Parade missing 30 players

Ireland coach taking a mindful approach with young centre, despite Brian O’Driscoll’s advice

 Head coaches Jacques Brunel (Italy), Warren Gatland (Wales), Joe Schmidt (Ireland), Eddie Jones (England), Guy Noves (France) and Vern Cotter (Scotland) at the Six Nations launch. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ireland’s World Cup disappointment will not compromise effort, says coach

Wales head coach Warren Gatland. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Wales coach Warren Gatland rejects notion Ireland will be vulnerable in Six Nations

New England rugby coach Eddie Jones responds to press questions during the RBS Six Nations media launch at the Hurlingham Club, London, yesterday. Photograph: John Walton/PA Wire

Jones wants English players with confidence to run with ball and look after it properly

Joe Schmidt and Ireland captain Rory Best at the launch of the Six Nations. Schmidt has confirmed Johnny Sexton is fully fit for next month’s championship. Photograph: Reuters

‘Johnny trained really well yesterday, he’s fully fit and ready to go, he’s passed his three’

Conan O’Donnell, Adam McBurney, James Ryan and Paul Kiernan at the Ireland Under-20 squad announcement. Photograph: Inpho

Nigel Carolan says last year’s talisman Garry Ringrose needs to be given time to develop

Zak Vaughan scored twice for Terenure in their win over St Mary’s. Photograph: Inpho

Winners take a Dublin 6 derby which came to life after an error-strewn opening half

Munster’s Dave Kilcoyne in full flight against Leicester Tigers: came through the Munster academy from the 2011-2012 season. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Leinster, Munster, Ulster and Connacht academies are producing quality new players

Jonathan Secton hands off Bath’s Tom Homer at the RDS. “I’ve said it all along, from day one, I rely on everyone around me.” Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Leinster outhalf finally putting the disappointment of World Cup behind him

Leo Cullen: “We will prepare for the game as best we can, to put in a good performance, exactly the same mindset as we had last week.”  Photograph: Leo Cullen/Inpho

But province’s coach will make some changes to his side for the visit to Wasps

 Eoin Reddan on Jimmy Gopperty: “He presents a massive running threat, a massive kicking threat. He’s a good passer, he’s a clever guy. He’ll prove to be a great signing for them (Wasps) yet.”

Former teammates will be on opposing side when Wasps host Leinster in Coventry

Jared Payne:  Silver lining in Ulster’s defeat in London last Saturday was the performance of Jared Payne at fullback. Presseye/Stephen Hamilton

Province without Henry, Ludik and Herbst as they chase place in knockout stage

Seán O’Brien: “You don’t want to be doing too much yapping towards the backs”

Schmidt to name new leader on Wednesday with forward among favourites

Leinster’s Peter Dooley chases Bath’s Semesa Rokoduguni at the RDS. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

John Fogarty admits he felt a little nervous ahead of Bath visit in Champions Cup

A dejected Ulster captain Rory Best leaving the pitch after Saturday’s European Rugby Champions Cup defeat by Saracens in London. Photograph: Andrew Fosker/Inpho/Presseye

Disappointed Ulster coach rues missed chances at crucial stage in first half

Ulster defence coach Joe Barakat. Photograph: Jonathan Porter/Presseye/Inpho

Joe Barakat says it was complacency that led to province trailing 23-0 at half-time

Munster supporters may baulk at the idea of renaming Thomond Park but the windfall could assist in the province’s recruitment drive. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Province opted against renaming stadium during its reconstruction in 2007-08

Jared Payne could return to Ulster for their Champions Cup trip to play Saracens. Photograph:   James Crombie/Inpho

Ireland centre set to play first game since injury sustained against Romania in World Cup

Andy Farrell chases a dog away after it tried to take a ball during his first  training session with Munster. The Ireland defence coach has joined the province in a consultancy capacity. Photograph:  Donall Farmer/Inpho

New Ireland defence coach will support under fire Anthony Foley for four months

“To have this opportunity to work with a very talented management and playing group really excites me,” said former England assistant coach Andy Farrell. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Former England assistant under Stuart Lancaster coach signs four-year deal with IRFU

Former England assistant coach Andy Farrell has been appointed as Ireland defence coach, the Irish Rugby Football Union announced. He will take up his role after the RBS 6 Nations Championship. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire.

He was last month sacked as England’s assistant coach following the World Cup

Ulster’s Jared Payne looks set to be fit for selection for the Six Nations while Iain Henderson is targeting the summer test series with South Africa. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Iain Henderson is set to miss the rest of the season, returning for South Africa tests

 The Ryder Cup, The Belfry, England, 22nd-24th September 1989, Great Britain and Europe 14 v USA 14, Europe’s Christy O’Connor Jnr celebrates on the final green after winning his match. Photograph: Bob Thomas/Getty Images

A warm, engaging personality, the life and soul of any party and a hugely popular figure

Leinster’s Zane Kirchner runs in for a try against Munster at Thomond Park. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Springbok to play key role for province when internationals depart for Six Nations

Leinster’s frontrow forward Peter Dooley in action against Scarlets last October in the Guinness Pro12. Photograph: Simon King/Inpho

Seán O’Brien’s career path provides inspiration for 21-year-old Offaly man

Leinster backs coach Girvan Dempsey. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Leinster academy products expected to make mark for province during Six Nations

Ulster’s Rory Scholes replaced injured winger Craig Gilroy in Toulouse and performed well in the biggest game of his senior career. Photograph: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker

Former Ireland U-20 international played part in famous away win for province

Munster head coach Anthony Foley: “I’m more concerned around getting a result at the weekend; I’m not looking after my own interests here.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Coach in talks about third year at Munster but more concerned about getting result

Leinster’s Josh van der Flier impressed in both Champions Cup games against Toulon. Photograph:  Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Leinster flanker learned some valuable lessons from Toulon’s Steffon Armitage

Ireland U-20’s Terry Kennedy runs in for a try despite the efforts of Leinster’s Tim Foley at Donnybrook Stadium. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Winger helps himself to six tries in rout of Leinster Development XV at Donnybrook

Ulster’s Irish winger Andrew Trimble is tackled by three Toulouse players during Sunday’s  clash at the Ernest Wallon Stadium in Toulouse. Photograph: Pascal Pavan/Getty

Luke Marshall’s late try proves crucial as Les Kiss’s charges claim a superb away win

Pat Lam’s squad without 20-first team players as they head to Newcastle

Richard Cockerill, Leicester director of rugby: chuffed with the grit, cohesion and workrate of his team in Thomond Park victory last weekend. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Foley makes three changes in pack as side travels to Leicester form crunch Cup contest

Ronan O’Gara of Munster kicks the winning penalty during the Heineken Cup Match between Leicester Tigers and Munster at Welford Road on October 22nd, 2006, in Leicester. Photograph: Getty Images

Leicester have lost only one of their last 29 home matches in European competition

Toulouse scrumhalf Sebastien Bezy says return trip will be hard for Ulster. Photograph: Remy Gabalda/AFP/Getty Images

Ulster have only managed Champions Cup back-to-back double three times

Jamie Heaslip at Leinster training. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Ireland number eight happy to get another crack at European champions

Ulster’s Stuart McCloskey scores a try against Toulouse in Ravenhill. Les Kiss’s side turned in a dominant five-try performance as they overwhelmed the French outfit 38-0. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ulster put French to sword in Ravenhill but coach says they now must back that up

Cian O’Sullivan in action against Mayo last summer: “Playing games is what you want to do.” Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Dublin defender says team-mates ready to defend their league and championship titles

Toulon’s  centres Ma’a Nonu and Mathieu Bastareaud. Photograph: Bertrand Langlois/Getty Images

Toulon centre admits side were happy to escape Stade Felix Mayol with positive result

Stuart McCloskey scores a try for Ulster in their European Champions Cup game against Toulouse at Kingspan Stadium. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Stunning night in Belfast sees Les Kiss’s side keep four-time champions scoreless

Peter Robb: will take his place in a young Connactht backline against Newcastle at the Sportsground. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Coach’s selection is compromised by injuries to 18 players

Winger Craig Gilroy of Ulster is over the disappointment of being left out of the Ireland squad for the World Cup.  Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Les Kiss has to contend with mounting injuries as Irish province look for recovery

Rory Best returns to lead Les Kiss’s Ulster against Toulouse. Photograph: Inpho

Les Kiss picks Alan O’Connor at lock in the absence of Henderson and Tuohy

Paul Burke in action for Leicester against Munster: “From my experience playing for Munster, nothing fires the players more than the prospect of someone entering their territory with aspirations.”  Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Former player predicts it will be a tough time for Leicester Tigers at Thomond Park

Tommy Bowe: “If we can pull out a big performance this Friday we are going to be right back in it again.” Ian MacNicol/Presseye/Inpho

Province severely depleted for must-win game against Toulouse at Kingspan

Ulster coach Les Kiss: says Toulouse’s “unpredictability, from selection to style, is a real danger”. Photograph: Brian Little/Presseye/Inpho

Defeat by Toulouse in Champions Cup would all but see province out of knock-out stages

New Zealand’s Ma’a Nonu during his debut for Toulon against Agen. Photograph: Bertrand Langlois/AFP/Getty Images

European champions show ominous form as All Black plays part in eight-try win

Ian Madigan: “I’ll weigh up the pros and cons of staying here, the pros and cons of going elsewhere, the ambitions of the other clubs.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

The Leinster outhalf is being pursued by French Top 14 club Bordeaux-Begles

Craig Gilroy in action for Ulster in their Champions Cup clash with Saracens. Photograph: Brian Little/Inpho/Presseye.

Winger happy with his form as he is top try scorer with province

Leinster’s Jordi Murphy in action against Benetton Treviso: “I have to up my game at the moment and get to the standard I know I can play at.” Photograph: Maurilio Boldrini/Inpho

Leinster flanker hoping to get a chance to impress against Glasgow Warriors on Saturday

Munster’s Andrew Conway fails to stop Bundee Aki scoring a late try forConnacht at Thomond Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Bundee Aki’s late try seals the province’s first win away in Munster in 29 years

Connacht’s Bundee Aki scores his side’s second try despite Andrew Conway of Munster Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Bundee Aki scores late try to keep Connacht on top of the Pro 12 table with 18-12 win

Kevin McLaughlin playing for Ireland for the last time, against New Zealand in 2013. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Ireland flanker ignored his concussion symptoms until that was no longer possible

The former Ireland Under-20 captain Niall Scannell  will make his fourth appearance of the season for Connacht. Photogaph: Ashley Western/Inpho

Rob Henshaw starts at fullback but both Simon Zebo and Conor Murray miss out

Luke Fitzgerald in action against Bath: “I’d say absolutely not; the last thing we need is a break. We need to throw ourselves into it at this stage.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Leinster player is confident that the team will get better as they get used to new set-up

Bath drive over on their way to a penalty try in their European Champions Cup victory over Leinster at the Recreation Ground, Bath, on Saturday. Photograph:  Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Guinness Pro12 rugby: Neither province will be able to dwell too long on weekend defeats

  Robbie Henshaw: “I’m not making any decisions yet at the moment. I’m just waiting until all the options come in and then I’m going to assess what is the best for my career.”

Ireland and Connacht centre expected to move to Leinster next season

Nathan White will make his 50th appearance for the province. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Pat Lam’s side take on Brive not having lost at home to French side since 2008

Leinster coach Leo Cullen: “There are areas we can fix that are very much in our control.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Absentees from Wasps game set to return but Sean O’Brien likely to miss Bath clash

New Zealand’s Jonah Lomu  is tackled by Ireland’s Denis Hickie in a 2001 Test match. Photograph: Patrick Bolger/Inpho

Leinster captain Isa Nacewa recalls great All-Black winger who passed away aged 40

Iain Henderson: had surgery on a finger damaged in Ireland’s World Cup quarter-final defeat to Argentina

Talented secondrow-cum-backrow returned to training with Ulster on Monday

Munster’s Francis Saili is tackled by Braam Steyn of Benetton Treviso during Saturday’s Champions Cup game at Thomond Park. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.

Conditions play part but Simon Zebo’s late bonus-point try makes it worthwhile

Ulster’s Darren Cave will line out in the centre alongside Luke Marshall. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

French outfit sacked coach two days before their debut in Champions Cup

Francis Saili, who has won two New Zealand caps, is expected to be a game breaker for Munster. Photograph: Inpho.

Anthony Foley’s side have too much in their armoury to be really troubled by Italian side

Toulon celebrate their Champions Cup Final victory over Clermont Auvergne   at Twickenham back in May. Photograph:  Stu Forster/Getty Images

Here's the lowdown on all 20 teams ahead of the start of this year’s competition

Ireland captain Paul O’Connell lifts  the Six Nations trophy at Murrayfield in March. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Four-year deal will cost station over €22m in another significant sports coup

Wasps’ Joe Launchbury in action against Leinster during the Champions Cup clash at the   RDS last year.  Photo:  David Rogers/Getty Images

Dai Young says Premiership club capable of posing Leinster significant problems

Fergus McFadden: ‘I think we’ve got a nice run into this game with it being on Sunday.’ Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Leinster defence looks to link in threes to hold off challenge of wing Christian Wade

Rory Best: Ulster’s poor away form “sometimes just needs to be mentioned and addressed”. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Province aim to overcome poor away form against Oyonnax in first Champions Cup game

Charles Piutau of Wasps: described by Girvan Dempsey as a “very strong, physical guy who’s elusive as well”. Photograph:  David Rogers/Getty Images

Luke Fitzgerald, Ben Te’o and Seán Cronin should be available for Sunday’s Wasps clash

Rob Kearney picked up a hamstring injury in Leinster’s Pro 12 game against Scarlets at the RDS. Photograph:  Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Luke Fitzgerald set to return to training on Tuesday after shoulder injury

Simon Zebo moves to fullback for Munster’s Guinness Pro 12 trip to play Edinburgh on Saturday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Keith Earls, Conor Murray and Donnacha Ryan return to starting positions

Newly appointed Ulster head coach Les Kiss. Photograph: Brian Little/Inpho.

New head coach makes four changes and three positional switches for Rodney Parade game

Robbie Henshaw: will start at fullback for Connacht against Treviso at the Sportsground. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Benetton Treviso facing a tough task at the Sportsground

Talented Leinster back Garry Ringrose lines out at outside centre, having taken man-of-the-match award in win over Glasgow Warriors. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Province welcomes back internationals for Pro12 clash against unbeaten table-toppers

Munster’s head coach Anthony Foley among the attendance at the European Champions Cup & European Challenge Cup launch at The Stoop, London. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Coach Anthony Foley hoping winger signs a new deal and reject Toulouse’s bid

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen oversees training. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Leinster man out of Scarlets clash and is doubt for Champions Cup opener

Japan players celebrate their momentous victory over South Africa in the pool section – the Brave Blossoms missed out on a place in the quarter-finals but won the hearts of the rugby world. Photograph: Getty Images

‘Irish Times’ team looks back at an eventful tournament and pick their highs and lows

Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe celebrates with fans after Argentina’s World Cup quarter-final win over Ireland. Photograph: Getty

As the dust settles in the wake of Ireland’s exit, what has the tournament shown us?

The game – and World Cup – is up for Ireland as Juan Imhoff dives over the line to score Argentina’s fourth try and seal their passage to the semi-final, where they will play Michael Cheika’s Australia in Twickenham. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty Images

Ireland players struggle to explain what went wrong in opening period against Argentina

 South Africa’s captain Fourie Du Preez runs in to score the winning try against Wales six minutes before the final whistle  at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire

Warren Gatland’s side find themselves unable to translate try-scoring chances into points

Fourie Du Preez and Schalk Burger embrace after South Africa’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final win over Wales. Photograph: Getty

Warren Gatland’s side are just edged out by Boks in gruesome battle at Twickenham

Bernard Foley attributes big part of his development as a player to his involvement in Sevens rugby. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Wallabies outhalf has made 10 jersey his own with some stellar showings at World Cup

Australia’s outhalf Kurtley Beale in action against Wales. Beale did superbly when coming on as an early replacement against England. Photograph: AFP Photo

RWC quarter-final preview: Sunday – Australia v Scotland, Twickenham (4.0, live on TV3, ITV)

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