Lions captain Paul O’Connell beats South Africa’s Victor Matfield to the ball at Ellis Park  in Johannesburg in 2009. The two men renew acquintances this Saturday. Photo: Stu Forster/Getty

A Heineken Cup final is a tough time to be learning major lessons but that’s how it was for us. People remember the 2002 final against Leicester as th(...)

Victor Matfield on Paul O’Connell: “”You can see he puts in a lot of hours in analysing, preparing and getting his whole unit ready for the weekend. So it is always tough going up against him.” Photograph: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

The importance of the lineout as a starter point in attack and also a key area when it comes to defence was at the nub of a question directed to South(...)

Australia’s exciting talent Israel Folau is tackled by Ireland’s Luke Marshall during last season’s 32-15 defeat at the Aviva Stadium. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho i

On one level it might look as if Ireland have missed a trick. Whereas England and Wales will each host four Tests in this last November window before (...)

Ruan Pienaar will undergo a fitness test in Dublin next week ahead of South Africa’s opening game of their European tour against Ireland. photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Some good news for Leinster in yesterday’s 36-man Springbok squad for the European tour that begins in Dublin on November 8th as Heyneke Meyer has (...)

Jean de Villiers will win his 100th cap this weekend. Photograph: Reuters

Springboks captain Jean de Villiers cannot quite believe that he is about to play his 100th test match, given he felt he might not even get a second a(...)

 Brian Habana (right) will be winning his 100th Test cap when he lines out for South Africa against Australia in Perth today. Photograph:   Kim Ludbrook/EPA

The headlines have focused on Bryan Habana’s 100th Test and a new Wallabies halfback partnership but it is in the maelstrom of the forward battle that(...)

Juan Smith of Toulon dives over to score a try during the Heineken Cup Final between Toulon and Saracens at the Millennium Stadium thhis year in Cardiff. Photograph. David Rogers/Getty Images

Juan Smith, who last year retired from rugby due to an Achilles injury, has completed a remarkable comeback after being drafted into the South Africa(...)

Leinster’s Devin Toner in action against Ulster in their RaboDirect Pro12 play-off semi-final at the RDS earlier this month.

Greatest compliment that can be offered to Devin Toner is nobody laments the departure of Nathan Hines and Brad Thorn, or even the imminent retiremen(...)

England outhalves past and present will meet in form of Saracens’ Owen Farrell, left, and Jonny Wilkinson of Toulon when the two clubs meet in this afternoon’s Heineken cup final in Cardiff. 
Photographs: David Rogers/Getty Images

So this is it then. The last Heineken Cup final does not so much look like a fitting summation of the last 19 years as a foretaste of the new order. T(...)

South African CJ Stander in full flight: “Munster gave me a chance, and I came here to play for Munster and then the possibility of one day playing for Ireland popped up.” Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Three weeks ago, CJ Stander sat on the bench for the fifth time in the Heineken Cup. He expected to maybe get 15 minutes or so. Less than 20 mi(...)

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