It's time for Planet Rugby's wrap of who has their name in lights this week … and who is making the headlines for the wrong reasons.
It's time for Planet Rugby's weekly wrap of who has their name in lights this week … and who is making the headlines for the wrong reasons.
They're on fire!
Crusaders: Written off by many as being 'past their best' and 'not the force they used to be', the Crusaders sent a message out to their Super Rugby rivals over the weekend with an emphatic performance in sweeping past the Reds. Todd Blackadder and his men will now travel to Hamilton full of confidence for a semi-final against the defending champions, the Chiefs. Even the bookies are now backing a Bulls v Crusaders final at Loftus.
Brumbies: Into the semi-finals for the first time since 2004 – when they last claimed the title – the Brumbies must now travel to Loftus Versfeld, where they have not won since 2006. But if ever there was side that was playing the kind of rugby that could beat the Bulls at their own game, it's Jake White's team.
Ryan Crotty's beard: No, the Crusaders centre is not just keeping up with the latest trends in facial hair. Crotty has joined his mate Robbie Fruean in “going caveman” until the latter returns from his lay-off after undergoing heart surgery. Solidarity with a team-mate going through a rough time exemplifies the spirit of our game. Hot!
Black Ferns: A tip of the hat to New Zealand's ladies after they demolished England in the final Test to claim a 3-0 series win.
Cheetahs: We're not used to pulling punches in this feature and normally when you lose, your name goes into the bottom half. But the Cheetahs were desperately unlucky not to force extra time in Canberra – despite outscoring their hosts two tries to none – as Riaan Smit's late conversion hit the upright. Losing isn't hot, and it never will be, but we felt it would be too harsh to stick the men from the Free State in the freezer. Are we growing soft?
Brrrr….someone turn the heater up!
Irish financial planning: Money is a bit tight in many parts of the world these days and Ireland has been through a particularly bad patch. You don't need to be an economist to know that when times are tough, people are generally reluctant to spend vast sums of money on entertainment in the form of say, rugby tickets. Hands up if you've got a spare 9000 Euros ( US$11850/ Â£7725) lying around to spend on tickets that you may or may not be available to use over the next decade…So what on earth were the decision makers at the IRFU thinking when they decided to hinge their financial future on selling long-term tickets? The net result is the “belt tightening” that is now a necessity and is likely to mean that there are less funds available to keep Irish talent in Ireland.
Reds: As anti-climatic ends to seasons go, Saturday's capitulation at AMI Stadium has to rank right up there. The 2011 champs were totally outplayed in Christchurch as a handful of senior players looked pretty disinterested by half time. Defeat to the B&I Lions has clearly left a scar. Ewen McKenzie's first task when he meets up with the same players in the Wallaby camp is to revive their fighting spirit.
Booing fans: OK, we get it, Quade Cooper ruffled a few Kiwi feathers a while back. But it's old news now and booing belongs to soccer stadiums. Time to move on.
Misguided fashion statements: Gloucester have become the latest club to jump on the pink bandwagon after unveiling their new-look kit for the upcoming Premiership campaign, including a Stade FranÃ§ais-esque away strip. We're all for innovation and breaking with the ordinary but there is nothing new about wearing pink. Not even the Parisians are doing it anymore. When Max Guazzini brought the pink revolution to the French capital – eight years ago – his aim was to break down stereotypes and create a buzz around his club with something no one had dared imagine before. At least when the Bulls went pink, they went the whole hog (excuse the pun) and came up with something flash. Although Gloucester's pink kit is supposed to “complement the style of rugby played by the club's young, exciting and dynamic squad” it's really just a dull copy, of a copy, of a copy. As one of our readers pointed out, “the object of team colours is so that supporters can identify with their team.” How many Gloucester fans out there fancy swapping cherry and white for pink and blue?
Compiled by Ross Hastie