Who’s hot… and who’s not!

Date published: March 24 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 firrreeeee!

Six Nations: Everyone, even France, played their part in a mad final round. 221 points and 27 tries across three games is astonishing at Test level. First-rate entertainment.

Ireland: Champions elect once again, although it was a nervous wait at the death when France decided to manipulate the heart-rate of every Irishman watching by refusing to kick the ball out. A 40-10 win on the final day gave them the necessary points difference but it’s the defence, with just 56 points conceded across the five games, that’s been most impressive about Joe Schmidt's side. Saturday’s triumph was made even better by Ireland Women winning the Women’s Six Nations on Sunday for a brilliant one-two.

England and Wales: We know neither side won the Six Nations title, but they threw everything at it. England’s clash with France was one of the better Tests in recent memory (putting 55 points on France takes some doing), while Wales in the second half in Rome were playing as if from another planet. No title, but some great attacking rugby and added confidence ahead of the RWC.

Nigel Owens: Another assured refereeing performance from the Welshman, who surely has to take charge of the Rugby World Cup Final later this year. This moment in particular was a gem.

Waratahs: Back to their best on Sunday in Sydney with a crucial home win over Australian rivals the Brumbies. Israel Folau in particular looked like he’d found his best form again. Positive signs for Michael Cheika as the 'Tahs close the gap in the Australian Conference on their rivals.

Crusaders: What a second half in Christchurch as the Crusaders tore the Cheetahs to shreds. Four tries in six minutes(!) were part of seven for the home side after half-time alone. Great to see Nemani Nadolo back to his destructive best too.

Ben Spencer: Sin-binned, missing conversions but when it counted, Spencer stepped up for Saracens to land the winning penalty with time up on the clock to clinch an LV= Cup victory. Great composure.


Broken Thermostat

Bulls: We get that the Bulls won on Saturday, and kudos to Handré Pollard for landing the winning kick, but their lack of ambition was a turn off. The Force outscored them three tries to one and other sides won't find it hard to defeat Frans Ludeke's side when their attack is that lacklustre. Pollard can't save them every week.


Banished to the igloo

Bismarck du Plessis: The actions of Hika Elliot and Frans Steyn weren't exactly genius, but the kick from Du Plessis on Michael Leitch of the Chiefs was phenomenally dumb. Only a four week ban? That's a surprise. It's moments like that call Bismarck's ability to captain a side into question.

Italy: So poor in the second half against Wales after promising so much. Their defence just holded, no one looked bothered to make tackles, as Wales scored for fun. Leo Ghiraldini's comments about this side not being mentally strong enough appear to be spot on.

Homophobic slurs: Jacques Potgieter has now been revealed as the Waratahs player behind the homophobic slur that marred Sunday's Aussie derby. Potgieter has apologised but homophobia is flat out wrong in every environment and good on David Pocock for making a stand. As he said, it's about the players stamping it out. His punishment is fair.

France medics: The whole situation last week involving Camille Lopez was a complete mess. Giving Lopez sat out a whole season not so long ago with a major knee injury, missing a potential tear in his knee shown on scans last Monday could have had a big impact on his career. Clermont's medical team acted swiftly to pull him out of the firing line but let's hope it doesn't affect his favour with the national side in the future.

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