Saracens’ Billy Vunipola is confronted by a Munster fan after the Heineken Champions Cup semi-final at the  Ricoh Arena in  Coventry in April 2019. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

A few weeks after Saracens 35-point deduction and a fine of more than €6.4 million for breaching the salary cap former Ulster centre Darren Cave mused(...)

South African president Nelson Mandela presents the William Webb Ellis trophy to captain Francois Pienaar after the victory over New Zealand in the 1995 Rugby World Cup Final at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. Photograph:  Billy Stickland/Inpho

Poisonous coffee. The Friday morning before the World Cup final Frank Bunce gingerly moved off his toilet bowl to track down Dr Mike Bowen. “Doc, I g(...)

Dion O’Cuinneagain (with headband) celebrates the Five Nations win over Wales at Twickenham in 1999 with Conor O’Shea, Victor Costello and Paddy Johns. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Allsport

Professional rugby, having turned 25 this week, remains at a perilous crossroads. The British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa in 2021 has never f(...)

Jonah Lomu runs through the Ireland defence at Ellis Park in Johannesburg during the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

All Black teenager, dead at 40, Jonah Lomu did plenty of living in between. Johannesburg May 27th, 1995 is where and when rugby gets divided into two(...)

Nelson Mandela hands the Webb Ellis trophy to Francois Pienaar in 1995. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Twenty-five years ago this Wednesday, rugby union supplied the backdrop to one of the most famous images in history. Nelson Mandela and Francois Piena(...)

Argentina’s Hugo Porta in action with Ireland’s Kenny Murphy in 1990. ‘I have always felt in Ireland things are just that little bit more fun and the people are so lovely,’ says Porta. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Argentina’s greatest rugby player Hugo Porta is still directing operations beautifully, just not from outhalf. At 68 years old he is doing it off the (...)

Ronan O’Gara scores a try in the 2000 Heineken Cup semi-final. Photograph: Inpho

On a glorious sunny day in Bordeaux on May 6th 2000, it was 20 years ago this week, the Red Army was born. It was also the day that Munster truly anno(...)

South Africa’s head coach Rassie Erasmus instantly changed the perception of the Springbok brand, but he did it for the right reasons. Photograph: Odd  Andersen/AFP via Getty Images

I feel privileged to have broken bread with Francois Pienaar. Over dinner one night, Pienaar spoke about the importance of sport in South Africa and h(...)

 South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus and  captain Siya Kolisi after victory over England  in the World Cup  final  at the International Stadium, Yokohama, Japan.Photograph:  Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

By the end of the 2019 World Cup, all felt right in the rugby world. This feel-good tournament had the ultimate feel-good story; a head coach free of (...)

South Africa’s captain Siya Kolisi celebrates his side’s victory over Wales at International Stadium Yokohama. Photograph: Ashley Western/PA Wire

It’s impossible, from this juncture anyway, to ascertain the social significance of Siya Kolisi potentially captaining the Springboks to victory in ne(...)

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