Johnny  Sexton, Joe Schmidt and Jacob Stockdale at Ireland training on Friday. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Italy v Ireland, Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Sunday 4pm local time/3pm Irish. On TV: Live on ITV (UK), Virgin Media (Ireland). Ireland haven’t hit their s(...)

Leinster’s Ian Nagle and his team-mates during the shock home defeat to Benetton Treviso at the RDS. The visitors were 18-1 to register a victory.  Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Leinster 15 Benetton 17 There will be no refuge from such a blatant performance malfunction, the imperfections of which in the glare of the post-mat(...)

 Denny Solomona of Sale Sharks scores a try during the Aviva Premiership match against  Worcester Warriors at AJ Bell Stadium. Solomona has been charged by the RFU after allegedly aiming homophobic abuse at Worcester outhalf Jamie Shillock. Photograph: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Denny Solomona has been charged by the English Rugby Football Union after allegedly aiming homophobic abuse at a Worcester player during an incident i(...)

Jacob Stockdale: the Ireland winger’s  seven tries proved a Six Nations record.  Photograph: Paul Harding/PA

A third Grand Slam, 12 consecutive victories in the Test arena from the final match of the 2017 Six Nations Championship to the game that marked the s(...)

Keith Earls: will be expecting to be part of a potent Ireland backline against Italy at the  Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland v Italy, Aviva Stadium. Kick-off: 2.15pm. (On TV: Live on TV3 and ITV)   This is an altogether different conundrum. A less lubrica(...)

Italy’s Ian McKinley is not in Conor O’Shea’s squad. Photograph: Giuseppe Fama/Inpho

Italy coach Conor O’Shea has admitted he had to stop himself from picking Ian McKinley to face Ireland purely to create a “romantic story”. Dublin-bo(...)

Mathieu Bastareaud has been banned for three weeks for verbal abuse and will miss France’s opening Six Nations match against Ireland in Paris. Photograph: Bertrand Langlois/AFP/Getty Images

Toulon centre Mathieu Bastareaud is set to miss France’s opening Six Nations clash with Ireland in Paris after receiving a three-week ban for verbally(...)

 Toulon’s French centre Mathieu Bastareaud in action against Benetton during Sunday’s Champions Cup game. Photograph: Bertrand Langlois/AFP/Getty Images

French centre Mathieu Bastareaud and England backrow James Haskell have both been cited after incidents in last weekend’s Champions Cup that could see(...)

 Iain Henderson (Ulster), Dean Budd (Bennetton Treviso), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Isa Nacewa (Leinster), CJ Velleman (Southern Kings), Mark Bennett (Edinburgh) and Cory Hill (Newport Gwent Dragons) at the launch of the Guinness PRO14 season at the Aviva. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

From a Pro14 press release: “It promises to be a sensational season . . . ” Guinness and Sky Sports certainly hope so. The good folk behind Europe’s (...)