Leinster’s Gordon D’Arcy celebrates his try as Johnny Sexton and Munster’s Ronan O’Gara exchange words in the Heineken Cup semi-final in 2009. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

When Irish rugby historians search for the biggest shift in the balance of power at provincial level they need look no further than May 2nd, 2009, and(...)

 Saracens’ Billy Vunipola scores their second try. Photograph: Lee Smith/Reuters

The two were so far ahead of the rest it wasn’t funny. The runners-up will feel they couldn’t have done a whole lot more and took the champions to the(...)

Jonathan Sexton at a Leinster training session in UCD during the week. Photograph: Inpho

Jonathan Sexton (Leinster) Position: Outhalf Age: 33 Height: 6’2” Weight: 92kg (14st 6lbs) Caps: 83 Points: 761 Why’s he so important?   He prov(...)

Rocky Elsom in action for Leinster: “We adopted an under-12s mentality in many games that season [2008-9]. Give the ball to the big fella and pile after him. It worked, especially against Munster at Croke Park.”  Photograph: Graham Stuart/Inpho

There are several reasons for the continued success of the Irish provinces. Home grown talent will always matter. Some brilliant coaching tickets have(...)

Ross Byrne in action against Toulouse. “I’m not Johnny [Sexton] so I’m not going to try to be Johnny. I just have to try and stamp my own authority on the team when I do play.” Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

It’s a measure of Ross Byrne’s dependability that in 17 Heineken Champions Cup games for Leinster over the last three seasons, six of them starting, h(...)

Mick Dawson: “The schools system is fantastic but also there are an awful lot of other kids outside the traditional rugby playing schools who are playing rugby.”  Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Leinster Rugby are set to open the first of what it hopes will be five centres of excellence throughout the province in Donnybrook next month. The 6(...)

Leinster’s Johnny Sexton talks to referee Frank Murphy during their fractious match against Munster at Thomond Park last month. Photograph: Inpho

Johnny Sexton’s continuing recuperation from a knee tendon injury will take place in warm weather climes in Portugal this week as part of an Ireland t(...)

Conor O’Brien scores a try for Leinster against Ulster in the Pro14 clash at the RDS earlier this month. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

In January, 2008, Conor O’Brien, aged 11, played for Mullingar minis during the half-time interval of a Heineken Cup match between Leinster and Toulou(...)

Conor O’Brien celebrates his try against Ulster. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Conor O’Brien is on the cusp of realising a childhood dream to play for Leinster in the Heineken Champions Cup. The likelihood is Leo Cullen will regi(...)

Leinster’s Ross Byrne in action against Connacht in the Guinness PRO14 at the RDS, Dublin on December 22nd. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Unflappable on the pitch, laconic in a media scrum, Ross Byrne exudes a quiet calm. At least that’s his public persona. Even in his days as an age-gra(...)

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