Joe Schmidt has made a major impact since taking over as Ireland head coach

Brian Smith: Ireland have shed their inferiority complex and rightfully arrive at Twickenham as favourites in Six Nations clash

There is more to this Irish team than a burning desire to put one over the big country across the water

With his aggressive and high-tempo style Rhys Webb has earned his starting place in the Wales team against France tonight

Jamie Roberts on Six Nations 2014: Dropping Mike Phillips for Rhys Webb was a massive call but Warren Gatland has got so many of those right over the years

If the coach feels a player is ready to step into the XV we all respect that immediately

RFU chairman Bill Beaumont is to meet club officials about the future of the Heineken Cup

Pro 12 collapse fears as Treviso walk out

Rugby Union finds itself facing a new crisis

Jamie Roberts (third left) roaring Jonathan Davies on his way to a dramatic try against Ireland in Dublin in 2012

Jamie Roberts: It’s usually a classic when Wales play Ireland and Saturday's clash will be no exception: a huge game, a passionate crowd...I can’t wait!

As defending champions we’ll be a target, but other teams are targets for us too

The battle between Farrell (left) and Ford could become like the Montagues and the Capulets

Brian Smith: You can’t blame Stuart Lancaster for his substitutions in the Six Nations – it is one of the hardest areas for us coaches

The Six Nations has a well-earned reputation for unpredictability and last weekend’s opening round lived up to it: Italy were a good deal more competitive against Wales than many people predicted, while the France-England rumble flew directly in the face of expectation, if we leave aside the performance of Billy Vunipola at No 8.

Owen Farrell could consider himself unlucky to end up on the losing side against France last week after excelling in his fly-half role

Lewis Moody Six Nations 2014 comment: Murrayfield will be just as intimidating as Paris but if England play the quick-ball game again they'll win back Calcutta Cup

The way England came back into the game in Paris after a poor start augurs well for Stuart Lancaster's team

England, Wales and Scotland players will not be able to combine to form a Team GB side at the Rio 2016 Olympics when rugby sevens is included

No chance of a Team GB in rugby sevens at Rio after IOC and IRB ruling states only one of England, Wales or Scotland can represent Britain

Players will not be allowed to be mixed to form a genuine Team GB side ruling out the possibility of a British and Irish Lions-style sevens side

The outstanding Billy Vunipola of England shrugs off the challenge of the French defence during the Six Nations match at the Stade de France

Lewis Moody Six Nations 2014 comment: So now England know what France do – it's not over until it's over

France showed England what it meant to never surrender

Flex Luther: Luther Burrell muscles his way through the French defence en route to his try

The Calvin Report: Stuart Lancaster's new approach carries air of authenticity

The decision by England's coach Lancaster to expose young prospects to top-class competition ends in narrow defeat but his work in formulating a new strategy ultimately will bear fruit

Jamie Roberts trains with Wales at the Vale Hotel near Cardiff this week for the Six Nations opener against Italy Saturday
Billy Vunipola can establish himself by next year's World Cup as the world's best No 8

Brian Smith: England need more tries – and a plan that goes beyond just bullying the French pack in Six Nations

How a team starts a match says everything about  their approach 

Sam Warburton is the first to sign a Welsh central contract

Wales captain Sam Warburton hopes many more will join him after signing central contract with WRU

Warburton became the first to agree a deal with the Welsh Rugby Union that will keep him playing for the Cardiff Blues

Sam Warburton celebrates

Wales and British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton signs first ever Welsh Rugby Union central contract

Warburton will be released to play for Cardiff Blues at no cost and comes in a week that Alun Wyn Jones also chose to remain in Wales

Mathew Tait has been forced to pull out of the England Saxons' side on Saturday with a back injury

Six Nations: Back injury ends Mathew Tait's hopes of Stuart Lancaster audition for England

It would be factually incorrect to suggest that Mathew Tait is “always injured”, but there are undeniably times when it seems that way. Like now. Stuart Lancaster and his fellow England coaches were relishing the prospect of watching the Leicester full-back play for the second-string Saxons against the Irish Wolfhounds at Gloucester this weekend and Tait knew that a strong performance would do his chances of a welcome red-rose recall no harm at all. Sadly, there will be no performance of any description. The poor man is crocked again.

On his way: Toby Flood is thought to be lining up a move to Toulouse

Exclusive: Aviva Premiership salary cap to rise in the battle to stop more players moving abroad

Cap set to rise by almost 10 per cent this year – the first increase in two seasons

Sport
<b>Mike Tindall (England)</b><br/>
Could almost have filled this side full of English players such was the litany of PR disasters for Martin Johnson and his men. From dwarf throwing, to branded gum-shields to Manu 'Waterbaby' Tuilagi chucking himself into the Auckland water - and that's just off-the-pitch. But Tindall had to be included simply because his experience should've ensured he and his teammates never got ensnared in such extra-curricular nonsense. The newly married Royal rugby man was duly embarrassed by headlines of him cavorting with a blonde and it set the tone for England's disappointing performances that followed.
The 35-year-old won 75 caps for his country
Sport
Marland Yarde was among those England players who responded well to a half-time rollicking in Hamilton
England’s reasons to be cheerful undermined by defensive failings, writes Chris Hewett
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