Who’s hot… and who’s not!

Date published: April 6 2015

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It is time for our weekly round-up of who has their name in lights at the moment… and who is making the headlines for the wrong reasons.

They're on fire!

Crusaders: The seven-time champions have made another inconsistent start to the season but their supporters will be hoping they turned the corner after their clincal display against the Sharks in Durban at the weekend. The South African outfit didn't know what hit them as the men from Christchurch outscored them by eight tries to one – and despite having three players in the sin-bin at the same time late in the first half – en route to a deserved 52-10 victory.

England Sevens: Coach Simon Amor was beaming after his charges clinched their first Sevens World Series triumph of the 2014/15 season in style by beating South Africa in the final of the Tokyo Sevens. That was also England's first series title in over two years and moves them into a qualification position for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio with just two more rounds of the Sevens World Series to be played.

Clermont: When they play as they did on Saturday, nobody can live with Clermont. Between Nick Abendanon sparking a World Cup bandwagon, Wesley Fofana rediscovering the linebreaking ability that was absent during the Six Nations, and Noa Nakaitaci continuing to show what potential he has, they were unstoppable. You had to pity Northampton, who never really stood a chance. Unfortunately for Clermont, they have struggled in the past to produce displays like this in the biggest games. If they have found the secret then it's difficult to see anyone stopping them.

Marcelo Bosch: Saracens were a far cry from the team that hammered Harlequins a week ago at Wembley, never even threatening to score a try. But they didn't need to thanks to their trio of goal-kickers. After Charlie Hodgson and Alex Goode had kept them in contention, it was Bosch who stepped up and struck a 45-metre penalty into the wind with the final kick to set up a tantalising semi-final against Clermont. Que cojones!

Ian Madigan and Frédéric Michalak: While we're on kicking, we have to give credit to Madigan and Michalak, who will likely face off in a fortnight. The former kicked six from six as Leinster showed all their nous to down Bath. The latter knocked over all eight of his attempts in a promising all-round display a week after his return from a five-month injury-enforced absence.

Georgian rugby: They were well-beaten in the final, but Georgia's Under-18s created history by reaching the title game in the European Under-18s Championships. Their extraordinary run featured penalty shoot-out wins over both Ireland and Italy before a heavy loss to France. Regardless of that final result, this is a huge moment for a country on the rise.


Broken Thermostat

Bath, Wasps and Racing-Métro: Three beaten quarter-finalists but all showed promise for the future as they went down to more experienced opposition. Bath scored two tries in Dublin but paid for their indiscipline, and it was a similar story for Racing, who were beaten at the death by Saracens. Wasps were never in front against Toulon, but gave the two-time champions quite a scare and will wonder what might have been had Christian Wade and Alaptai Leiua been fully fit.


Brrr….. someone get these guys a warmmmm cuppa soup.

James Horwill and Jean Deysel: These two experienced campaigners were rightfully red-carded after acts of stupidity during their respective teams' recent Super Rugby matches. Reds lock Horwill was sent off for using a swinging arm to the head of Paul Alo-Emile in the Reds' defeat to the Rebels in Melbourne and Deysel received his marching orders after he kneed the Crusaders' Matt Todd on the back of his neck in Durban , capping what was an absolutely shambolic performance from the Sharks. The most ridiculous thing about both offences was they came just as both teams were on the up. The Reds had raced into an early lead against the Rebels, while the Sharks were up against 12 Crusaders after three quickfire sin-binnings. Stupidity indeed!

Stormers: After winning their first four matches, things have gone pear-shaped for the Allister Coetzee's side, who have now lost their third successive match. The men from the Cape suffered defeats to the Chiefs, Highlanders and Hurricanes and have dropped down to ninth on the overall table and to third in the South African Conference.

New Zealand Sevens: It's not often that coach Gordon Tietjens' troops celebrate being amongst the also-rans on the Sevens World Series but that's exactly what they did when they won the Plate Final in Tokyo. New Zealand were bundled out of the Cup competition after suffering an ignominious defeat to Canada in the quarter-finals. The warning signs were there when they lost their final pool match to Australia on the first day.

Alex Waller: It was a miserable afternoon for Northampton in Clermont, but while Waller at least saved them the ignominy of a whitewash in the Massif Central, he then lost it completely throwing a wild elbow at John Ulugia. He likely would have been carded had the game not already been over as a contest.

Jacques Burger: A year ago Burger produced a sensational display as Sarries hammered Clermont in the Heineken Cup semi-finals. He'll be fortunate to feature in the repeat fixture this time after an ugly attack on Maxime Machenaud. His forearm smash on the Racing scrum-half late in the first half was missed at the time, but if spotted by the citing officer, Burger will surely face a spell on the sidelines. See for yourself.

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