Who’s hot…and who’s not!

Date published: October 12 2015

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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!

Australian defence: Every great attack needs a great defence. Nathan Grey was the toast of Australia on Saturday, and it's easy to see why. The Wallaby defence coach has certainly done a great job after Australia held Wales out despite being down to 13 men. It was an almighty effort and yet more proof that this Wallaby team is not a soft touch.

Japan: After their 28-18 win over USA in Gloucester, the Brave Blossoms became the first team to win three World Cup pool games and not qualify for the quarter-finals. The performances of the emerging nations and have been the highlight of the tournament so far, with Japan leading the charge. On home soil in four years, the will be formidable opponents.

Samoan spirit: It's been a miserable World Cup for Samoa and most expected them to just roll over against Scotland on Saturday. Instead they came out all guns blazing and played the Scots off the park for 40 minutes. The Scottish maul and a wild Tim Nanai-Williams pass kept Vern Cotter's men in it at the break, and they eventually did just enough to squeak through, but this was the Samoa team we'd hoped to see all tournament.

Hat-trick heroes: Three men notched up trebles this week, with Bryan Habana kicking things off against the USA. He missed out on a fourth when he dropped the ball over the line, but he still did enough to equal Jonah Lomu's all-time RWC try-scoring record of 15. Then a fired up England vented their frustration on Uruguay with hat-tricks for players young and old in Jack Nowell and Nick Easter.

Ma'a Nonu: A century of caps for the All Black centre and he marked it with a try against Tonga on Friday. It's been quite a ride for Nonu who first appeared at a World Cup in 2003 but had to bide his time before becoming an All Black regular.

Formidable Pumas: Everyone wanted to avoid New Zealand, but Argentina are looking more and more impressive. Powerful up front as ever, they have developed an all-round game. Proof if ever it was needed that the Rugby Championship has benefited them hugely. They will provide a huge obstacle to and injury-struck Ireland side, against whom the Pumas will now fancy their chances.

Ireland's bench: Johnny Sexton and Paul O'Connell went off in the fist half, and Peter O'Mahony joined them after the break. No matter, Ireland were arguably better in the second half, with Iain Henderson, Ian Madigan and Chris Henry all stepping up. They'll probably need to do the same again with the injury news mixed for the experienced trio.


Get these guys a cup of warm soup!

Sean O'Brien and David Pocock: Sterling performances by these two flankers have been overshadowed by their respective cheapshots that will surely result in citings. Just how the match officials missed O'Brien's punch on Pascal Papé is hard to fathom given the level of TMO involvement elsewhere. Pocock's knee on Scott Baldwin was harder to spot, but the video is no less damning. 

France: Philippe Saint-André asked to be judged on the World Cup, but like the rest of his tenure, Sunday's display was an unmitigated disaster. No verve, no ball, and not even a scrum by the end. France lift their game when they play New Zealand in World Cups, but this is not the team of 2007 and 2011. 

Blunt Welsh attack: Yes, the Wallaby defence was brilliant and yes, Wales were held up three times, but it's hard to consider a team that can't score against 13 men as realistic title contenders.  

Daily Mail: The is no more despicable act in journalism than to knowingly tarnish the reputation of an innocent person for the sake of running a sensational story. The British tabloid set off a media flurry when they accused Bok prop Frans Malherbe of biting. It proved to be without any basis whatsoever but the damage had already been done by the time World Rugby rubbished the accusations since, in the internet era, media outlets were almost obliged to cover the story. Worse still, when Malherbe was cleared, the Daily Mail tried to take credit for that too, claiming to be the source of the 'evidence' that proved his innocence.

Endless matches: The first half in Exeter on Wednesday when Georgia faced Namibia on Wednesday lasted an incredible 68 minutes. While that was exceptional, there must be a way of speeding the game up a little.

Refereeing disparity: It certainly pays to be a tier one side at this World Cup. On Tuesday Bryan Habana didn't concede a penalty when he collided with Blaine Scully in the air while contesting a loose ball. The same situation on Sunday saw Tinus du Plessis sin-binned for Namibia despite him having far more chance of winning the ball. There have been similar question marks over the bans being handed out so we'll see this week if the likes of O'Brien are punished as harshly as players from the minnows.

Interfering coaches: As if England's premature exit wasn't bad enough, things got even worse when Graham Rowntree and Andy Farrell were suspended from their final game after being found to have approached referee Romain Poite during the loss to Australia. An ignominious way to bow out of the tournament.

Twitter beef: Prior to the tournament we heard all about the strict guidelines England were given over reacting to comments on social media. James Haskell might not have got the memo after engaging with Neil Back ahead of England's final game against Uruguay.

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