Ireland, France and South Africa’s bidding teams made their presentations to the World Rugby Council last Monday. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

As we enter the decisive home straight in the three-way contest to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup, the prize at stake is simply enormous. Aside from th(...)

 A view of Ireland’s proposal. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

If their press conferences at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington were any yardstick whatsoever, the Irish bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup was c(...)

South African rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen, who was battling motor neurone disease has died. The 45-year-old former scrum-half, a Springboks captain who won the 1995 World Cup, was diagnosed with the condition in 2011. The incurable disease which damages parts of the nervous system left van der Westhuizen confined to a wheelchair, as he was given two to five years to live when he was diagnosed. Photograph: Getty Images

Joost van der Westhuizen was a giant of South African rugby and one of the best scrum-halves of all time. His death at the age of 45 from motor neuro(...)

The Ireland squad train at Ellis Park, Johannesburg, on Friday. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

The Irish team and replacements went through their customary eve-of-match Captain’s Run at the iconic Ellis Park - where Nelson Mandela famously hande(...)

Dejected looking Ireland players after the Six Nations defeat to France at Parc de France last month. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho.

In 1996, 20 years ago almost to the day, the first game of professional rugby was played. It was between the New South Wales Waratahs and the Transvaa(...)

Bryan Habana of South Africa has equalled Jonah Lomu’s record of 15 World Cup tries after scoring a hat-trick against the USA on Wednesday. Photograph: Paul Gilham/Getty Images.

Bryan Habana stands with his back to the room. Shaped like a stealth fighter, he has just scored three tries in a 20 minute spree of ruthless, opportu(...)

 Samoa’s Viliamu Afatia is tackled by South Africa’s Lodewyk De Jager and Frans Malherbe during the Rugby World Cup  Pool B match at  Villa Park in Birmingham. Photograph:  David Jonjes/EPA

Laager – definition: an encampment formed by a circle of wagons; an entrenched position or viewpoint that is defended against opponents. “I see you ar(...)

South Africa’s lock Lood de Jager, prop Tendai Mtawarira and backrow Francois Louw: “It is really going to be a test of character this week.” Photograph: Bertrand Langlois/AFP/Getty Images

In Adam Hochschild’s 1992 book The Mirror at Midnight, a journey to the heart of South Africa, the American journalist provided insight into the Afri(...)

Nelson Mandela hands the Webb Ellis Cup to South Africa captain Francois Pienaar. Photograph: Getty

Having been excluded from the first two Rugby World Cups in 1987 and 1991 South Africa emergedfrom the dark shadow of apartheid to rejoin the elite in(...)

I was sitting in Kielys of Donnybrook Town recently with my famous tactics book in front of me, scribbling down a few thoughts I had about the beautif(...)

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