Wales edge Ireland in bruising World Cup warm-up

Padraic Halpin   Wales hung on to beat Ireland 16-10 in an intense World Cup warm-up game.

Ireland edge out impressive Scots

Forward momentum halted: Ireland's Simon Zebo is tackled by Scotland's Peter Horne.

Padraic Halpin   Ireland were far from their best but came from behind three times in a thrilling second half to edge out impressive Scotland 28-22 in a World Cup warm-up.

Ireland crush Wales in World Cup warm-up

Ireland's Dave Kilcoyne breaks through the Welsh defence.

Six Nations champions Ireland scored five tries in an impressive 35-21 defeat of Wales in Cardiff as their World Cup build-up began in earnest on Saturday.

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Ireland captain signs with Toulon

Paul O'Connell with this year's Six Nations trophy.

Ireland stalwart Paul O'Connell, England prop Matt Stevens and South Africa back-rower Duane Vermeulen have all signed for European champions Toulon.

Prop in strife after Ireland loss to Barbarians

Facing ban: Jack McGrath.

Ireland prop Jack McGrath may face a suspension that could ruin his World Cup hopes after kneeing Konstantin Mikautadze in the back during Ireland's 22-21 defeat against the Barbarians on Thursday.

Poms can play and they'll pick Big Sam: Cheika

Michael Cheika says it would be foolish to write off Australia's chances of lifting the Webb Ellis Cup for a record third time.

Paul Cully   Michael Cheika has greeted World Cup group rivals England's ability to play a more attacking, open style with an utter lack of surprise and is also adamant they will pick Sam Burgess.

Ruthless Leinster, inspired Clermont reach semis

DUBLIN, IRELAND - APRIL 04:  Ian Madigan of Leinster starts an attack during the European Rugby Champions Cup Quarter Final match between Leinster Rugby and Bath Rugby at Aviva Stadium on April 4, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images) Ian Madigan

Ian Madigan kicked Leinster to a gripping 18-15 win over Bath and Clermont Auvergne dismantled Northampton 37-5 in wildly contrasting European Champions Cup quarter-finals on Saturday.

Irish shed inhibitions to prove World Cup credentials

Flying high:  Ireland will compete at the World Cup as the reigning Six Nations champions.

unknown   Joe Schmidt's team use their licence to attack to show doubters they can win with flourish, writes Oliver Brown

Ireland overpower Scotland to win Six Nations title

Ireland's captain Paul O'Connell  holds the trophy after winning the  Six Nations rugby union international tournament at Murrayfield stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland, Saturday, March 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)

Alasdair Reid   Ireland played like the World Cup contenders they are.

Wales hold off Ireland to blow Six Nations wide open

Hanging tough: Sam Warburton (right) celebrates with Leigh Halfpenny after Wales' gritty Six Nations win over Ireland.

James Corrigan   Win over Ireland gives inspired Wales a shot at the Six Nations title heading into the final round.

Ireland no Rugby World Cup dark horses

Matt Burke / Matthew Burke

Matthew Burke   They are the defending Six Nations champions and have just about swept all before them in the past two years.

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Ireland beat England to go top in Six Nations

Ireland's Jared Payne and Robbie Henshaw celebrate scoring a try against England.

Ireland take a major step towards retaining their Six Nations title with a pulsating win in Dublin.

Bloodied Sexton boots Ireland to victory

Jonathan Sexton of Ireland is given treatment for a cut to his eye. The Ireland fly-half suffered four concussions last year.

Pirate Irwin   Fly-half Jonathan Sexton produced a man of the match performance on his return after a 12 week absence to inspire defending Six Nations champions Ireland to an 18-11 victory over France at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.

Ireland kicks clear of Italy after yellow card

Ireland's Sean O'Brien scores a try against Italy.

Ian Keatley converted four penalties on his Six Nations debut to set holders Ireland on the way to a dour 26-3 win over an uninspiring Italy on Saturday.

Schmidt put Ireland on brink of rugby greatness

Meticulous: Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt barks out the orders at training.

Oliver Brown   An erratic team once excessively reliant upon Brian O'Driscoll's magic, Joe Schmidt has transformed Ireland into a force and a genuine threat at this year's Rugby World Cup.

Ireland launch 'irresistible' bid for 2023 World Cup

On a roll: Ireland winger Simon Zebo swoops on a kick to score the opening try against the Wallabies in November.

Ireland will bid to host the 2023 rugby World Cup, the Irish and Northern Irish governments said on Friday, formally launching a politically symbolic proposal to win the right to hold the event on their own for the first time.

Wallabies prepare for air raid

Injury blow: Tevita Kuridrani has been in outstanding form for the Wallabies.

Chris Dutton   Tevita Kuridrani's breakout season is over after the barnstorming outside centre suffered an ankle injury against Ireland.

Wallabies on verge of worst European tour in nine years

Nick Phipps

Chris Dutton   The Wallabies are in danger of slumping to their worst spring tour of Europe in almost a decade, but captain Michael Hooper is adamant the team is taking the right steps to rebuild its badly dented reputation.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt suffers suspected appendicitis during Wallabies match

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt is suffering from suspected appendicitis and has gone to hospital for a check-up, a team spokesman said following the Six Nations champions' 26-23 victory over Australia on Saturday.

Wallabies prepare to defuse crafty tactics

"We're doing our research, we saw the weapon they used against South Africa and we're looking to stop it": Rob Simmons.

Chris Dutton   DUBLIN: The Wallabies believe they can counter Ireland's "crafty and old school" lineout tactics with set-piece smarts to avoid back-to-backs for the first time in almost a decade.