Who’s hot… and who’s not!

Date published: September 15 2015

1022.6666666666666x767__origin__0x0_Hot_not_Sep_14

It's time for Planet Rugby's 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!

Tasman and Canterbury: These two teams are now on five wins from five matches after beating Wellington and Hawke's Bay respectively over the weekend. They are not alone in pushing for an ITM Cup Final spot though as Auckland refuse to go away, defeating Otago, in what should be an exciting business end to the season.

Golden Lions: The only unbeaten team left in the Currie Cup competition after winning at the Blue Bulls on Saturday as again they showed their class with ball in hand. Tries from Courtnall Skosan, Franco Mostert and Ruan Combrinck saw them to a 36-28 victory, moving four points clear of their Pretoria hosts at the summit.

Montpellier: Jake White's efforts at Montpellier have been distinctly underwhelming so far, but after winning at Bordeaux, they followed that up by dismantling champions Stade Français. Admittedly the Parisians have been decimated by injuries and World Cup call-ups, and lack real depth, but this was still a very impressive display from Montpellier, who move up to second in the table after Toulouse lost at Pau on Sunday.

Wasps: Swooping in to sign up Charles Piutau for a season in Coventry is one of the smartest moves of the year from Wasps. Piutau’s contract with Ulster doesn't commence until July 2016 and the Irish province had no foreign player places left in their squad to take him early. Instead, Wasps get an All Black who only a couple of months ago was Man of the Match as New Zealand defeated South Africa at Ellis Park.

Northampton: Another big signing but at the other end of the scale from Piutau’s youthful talent. Victor Matfield might be 38 but as we saw with Brad Thorn at Leicester, the amount a veteran player with more medals in his cabinet than most can give to younger players, and the overall squad, is huge. Plus, Matfield paired with Courtney Lawes? That’s some second row we'll see at Franklin’s Gardens.


Get these guys a cup of warm soup!

Ospreys: Winless in the opening two rounds of the PRO12, the season has clearly not started well for the Welsh side. Thrashed by Ulster a week earlier, they gave up a half-time lead against Munster on Sunday, eventually going down to a last-minute try. The defeat ends the 14-match unbeaten run for the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium. Steve Tandy's side have now lost three in a row in the Pro12 for the first time since the 2012/13 campaign.

Journalists making false doping claims: Pharmacies in Toulon being under criminal investigation was certainly a newsworthy story but some took their coverage a step too far with open suggestions of organised doping at the European champions, despite the Marseille prosecutor saying the case was "far from doping." Doping in rugby probably doesn't get enough attention but in this case Toulon were actually the victims of fraud on the part of the dodgy pharmacists from whom the club had already disassociated themselves. The damage to RCT's reputation has been done however, and club president Mourad Boudjellal vowed to sue and used the big screens at Mayol to counter attack.

TMO in Canterbury v Hawke's Bay game: It seemed to the vast majority a clear knock-on from the hand of Magpies second-row Junior Waqa to wing Shannon Chase, who subsequently ran in to score against Canterbury. Several replays appeared to confirm that but when the television match official went back to referee Brendon Pickerill his decision was 'try'. Needless to say, the commentators, Canterbury fans and we were stunned.

Over-efficient organisers: Organising the arrival of 19 teams into one country for a Rugby World Cup is far from a piece of cake, but seeing so many supporters waiting at Heathrow miss out on a chance to meet the Springboks and All Blacks was a real shame. No one wants to wait for hours to meet their heroes only to hear they’ve been whisked out of a side door.

COMMENTS