It's time for our weekly wrap up of who has their name in lights at the moment… and who is making the headlines for the wrong reasons.
It's time for Planet Rugby's weekly wrap up of who has their name in lights at the moment… and who is making the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Lionel Beauxis: Just when everyone was waxing lyrical about Luke McAlister's impact at Toulouse, the French champs gave their other discarded Test fly-half a chance to lead their attack. Two games later and it looks like McAlister might struggle to get the number ten jersey back. Beauxis was in international form as he directed traffic during Toulouse's rout of Montpellier a fortnight ago. He backed that performance up with a 30-point kicking masterclass – including two drops-goals – against Bayonne to remind new France coach Philippe Saint-AndrÃ© why he was once considered the great hope of French pivot play.
Ulster: A week after a below-strength Ulster side were given a 29-point hiding in the Irish capital by Leinster, Brian McLaughlin recalled some of his big guns as defending PRO12 champs Munster travelled to Belfast. Tries by Stefan Terblanche, John Afoa, Ian Humphreys and Ruan Pienaar handed the hosts a bonus-point win to remind everyone that there are more than two big teams in Ireland.
Biarritz: The Basque giants have been more like midgets this season and thus a regular feature in the 'not hot' section. But a dominant win over a star-studded Toulon side on New Year's Eve might just provide the tonic needed to spark a revival. Jonny Wilkinson and co. never looked like winning as Dimitri Yachvili pulled the strings in a one-sided affair. BO are still last in the Top 14 but are now just three points short of climbing out of the relegation zone.
Bath: There was nothing recreational about the conditions in Bath on Sunday but a 30-3 win over London Irish was just what the crowd at the Rec needed to start the New Year with a smile. The result halted a run of four straight defeats and kept Geech's men clear of relegation danger.
Bordeaux-BÃ¨gles and Lyon Olympique: The little guys in the Top 14 are certainly not going to go down without a fight! UBB upset the bookies by smashing Stade FranÃ§ais 39-6 to climb to ninth in the standings. There was further good news this week when former All Black Bruce Reihana and South African scrum-half Heini Adams signed new two-year contracts. Meanwhile, LOU put on a gritty show to hold high-flying Clermont to a six-all draw to stay a point ahead of Biarritz with game in hand against…Bordeaux!
Put the kettle on…these guys need to warm up!
Quade Cooper: Oh Quade! Even when he isn't playing the Cooperman can't stay out of the headlines. The Wallabies fly-half has been banned from a popular southeast Queensland pub after an altercation with a female patron and her boyfriend. The Reds pivot's split with former girlfriend, swimmer Stephanie Rice, was made public last week… no prizes for guessing how Quade decided to heal his broken heart. For the record, a Queensland Rugby investigation found Cooper's conduct did not warrant official disciplinary action.
Danny Care: Two strikes and you're out! At least that's what Stuart Lancaster told Harlequins' thirsty scrum-half, who will now miss the Six Nations. Care has also been fined Â£10 000 by Quins and will be required to work on the club's inner city coaching programme. Remember kids: If you drink, don't drive!
London Wasps: Five consecutive defeats. Scoreless against Worcester at Adams Park on Sunday. This is the 2008 champions' worst start to a Premiership campaign in ten years. 'nough said.
Ezra Taylor's two-minute Worcester debut: Lady luck can be a real bitch sometimes. Warriors newly-arrived Samoan international loose forward will miss the rest of the season after suffering a snapped patella tendon in his knee just two minutes into his debut. Our best wishes for a fast recovery!
London Irish: If a 27-point drubbing at the hands a Bath wasn't a bad enough way to start the year, it emerged this week that full-back Delon Armitage is probably on his way to join his brother in France next season and is taking lock Nick Kennedy along with him. At least that's according to the local press in Toulon, but where there's smoke….
Compiled by Ross Hastie