An emotional tribute was paid to the victims of Christchurch's terrorist attack before the Crusaders and Waratahs played in Super Rugby.
Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones beat off competition from Hadleigh Parkes and Josh Adams to be crowned Six Nations Player of the Championship.
An astonishing second-half rally saw Scotland retain the Calcutta Cup, but they were denied victory by England at Twickenham.
Italy deservedly led Ireland 16-12 at half-time in Rome, but Joe Schmidt's side just about did enough to avoid a huge Six Nations upset.
Wales came from 10-3 down at half-time to claim a record 12th consecutive victory and go top of the Six Nations table.
Pete Horne is preferred to Adam Hastings in Scotland's starting line-up for their clash with France in Paris.
Mako Vunipola and Chris Ashton are replaced by Ben Moon and Jack Nowell in England's starting line-up to take on Wales.
England thrashed France 44-8 in the Six Nations, with wing Jonny May scoring three of his side's six tries at Twickenham.
Conor Murray, Jacob Stockdale and Keith Earls crossed for tries as Ireland got up and running in the Six Nations at Murrayfield.
Conor Murray felt Ireland were always likely to pay the price for starting poorly against a side of England's quality on Saturday.
France led 16-0 at half-time in the driving rain in Paris, but they fell apart in the second half to start the Six Nations with a defeat.
The next Rugby League World Cup winners will be crowned at Old Trafford, with the semi-finals staged at Elland Road and the Emirates.
South Africa and London Irish tweeted their best wishes to Naka Drotske, who was shot during a robbery in Pretoria.
France secured their first win since March, Teddy Thomas helping himself to a double with Gael Fickou impressing on his return.
Sam Underhill thought he had crossed for a winning England score against New Zealand, but Courtney Lawes was deemed offside.
South Africa paid the price for letting England off the hook at Twickenham, where Eddie Jones' men gained revenge for a series loss in June.
Will Carling is back in the England fold, the retired ex-captain taking on a leadership role under coach Eddie Jones.
Rassie Erasmus says South Africa's win over New Zealand is the best moment of his coaching career, but insisted the Springboks must improve.
After impressing in his first season with the Jaguares, Mario Ledesma has been given the Argentina job.
Wales great Sam Warburton, 29, has retired from rugby after admitting "my body is unable to give me back what I had hoped for".
Australia can go third in the rankings if they beat Ireland in the last match at Allianz Stadium before it is knocked down next year.
Scott Fardy, Tadhg Furlong, Johnny Sexton, Maxime Machenaud and Leone Nakarawa are in the running for the European Player of the Year award.
Following on from Rory Best's contract extension, Rob Kearney has agreed a deal with the IRFU until November 2019.
Heavy snowfall in Dublin means Ireland will not celebrate their Six Nations Grand Slam at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday.
A seventh try of Jacob Stockdale's campaign represented a Six Nations record for the Ireland man.
England stand between Ireland and a Grand Slam, but the latter are already confirmed as winners of the 2018 Six Nations.
John Barclay hailed Finn Russell as one of the best fly-halves in world rugby after he inspired Scotland to a stunning win over England.
England are favourites for Six Nations glory once again, but Eddies Jones' men will face a tough challenge to make it three in a row.
England have named their squad for the Six Nations opener against Italy, a selection that includes eight uncapped players.
France will have Mathieu Bastareaud available for their Six Nations clash with Scotland on February 11 after he was banned for three weeks.
Al-Hilal inched closer to the last 16 of the AFC Champions League thanks to Sebastian Giovinco, while Almoez Ali scored for Al Duhail.
Linked with a host of European giants, Siem de Jong had some advice for Ajax skipper Matthijs de Ligt.
Steve Smith and David Warner will feature in England, but Peter Handscomb and Josh Hazlewood have missed out on a Cricket World Cup spot.
Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers made half-century as Royal Challengers Bangalore claimed a first IPL win at the seventh time of asking
Boca Juniors scored four goals against Jorge Wilstermann on Wednesday, after Cruzeiro's Fred celebrated a first-half hat-trick.