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Age before beauty is backbone of Warren Gatland’s beefed up Lions

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Warren Gatland has insisted the squad he picked for the British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa would have looked different had the destination been New Zealand, and different again were it to be heading for Au...

Ball in Warren Gatland’s court after a week that laid bare rugby union’s ugly side

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If Lions tours are supposed to spread the Gospel of Rugby, they best choose somewhere else to go. If they are to satisfy the bloodlust of the already converted, then why play anyone else? This match, like the last – i...

Comeback kings Harlequins crowned as most extraordinary champions yet

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It goes without saying this was an epic. Un altro. And in this era of the comeback, who should be crowned as the English champions but a team that had seemed in pieces only a few months ago, their coach gone, their for...

Eddie Jones will face backlash over England’s bewildering decline

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Fifth place for England. We have said that before, and quite recently, but this time the words will be spat out by those faithful clad in white with just a touch more vitriol. Familiarity breeds contempt, and familiar...

Flickering of flair tips brutal Champions Cup final in Toulouse’s direction

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These two have been the undisputed stars of European rugby this season. So hopes were high for a final to match. Alas, it was not to be. Let us record the result, applaud Toulouse’s record fifth title and La Rochelle’...

Lions tour has mutated from romantic adventure to frenzied orgy

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The squad announcement for the British & Irish Lions is usually rugby’s equivalent of a general election, preceded by a frenzy of speculation, leaks and vitriolic exchanges. So a social media blackout the weekend ...

Red erring: players the losers in rugby’s card-happy campaign for a safer game

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This weekend Sam Skinner should be lacing his boots to play for Exeter in a Premiership final. But in the last round of the regular season, he bent his 6ft 5in frame to tackle a 5ft 7in scrum‑half. He caught him in th...

Rugby’s problems run much deeper than concussion from the odd ‘big hit’

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While debates in rugby rage about what equals a red card and what a suitable stand down following brain injury might be, science continues to bleed unnerving evidence into the mix that none of the above is relevant. IO...

Scotland primed to tackle their nemesis Ireland with flamboyance

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Having ended their Twickenham hoodoo, Gregor Townsend’s side seek to end a dismal run against another familiar foeIt is a measure of their popularity that the previous round of the Six Nations felt so empty without Sc...

Search starts for new outlook after turgid tour robs Lions of their lustre

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There he was at the end, that familiar half-smile and soft voice: dripping ever so softly those words, sometimes of pride, sometimes patience, sometimes the most enraging little barbs it would be so easy to miss, ma ...