Who’s hot… and who’s not!

Date published: October 26 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!!

All Blacks: Another tight game won by the defending champions – we’ve heard that one before. New Zealand’s control in the closing stages was so impressive, from their defence to their tactical kicking game by pinning South Africa back in their own half later on. A fourth World Cup final now awaits, and a possible third win. The best side in this four-year cycle since their 2011 triumph look unstoppable now, although their penalty count has to be addressed.

Dan Carter: Even your most downtrodden Springbok supporter will step back eventually and realise how good it is to see Carter playing in this form again. Injuries have blighted his form in the past but now arguably the greatest fly-half ever finally gets a crack at a World Cup Final. His drop goal and rip on Schalk Burger were poignant moments.

Australia: Appreciating just how far Michael Cheika has taken the Wallabies in such a short space of time is easily done when you remember how Ewen McKenzie’s time came to an end. Having Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell back has sure helped, along with a healthy David Pocock in the form of his life. Their performances this year though have been on another level. Now they’re in the final. Like New Zealand, fewer penalties are a must though.

Golden Lions: Never has there been a more deserving winner of the Currie Cup. The Lions have swept all before them this year, marching towards their first Currie Cup title since 2011 with a near-perfect season, picking up 48 out of a possible 50 points in the league stages before sweeping past the Cheetahs and Western Province in the play-offs. What a shame it was that Ellis Park was half empty due to the World Cup fixture clash. 

Canterbury: The men from Christchurch won their seventh ITM Cup title on Saturday as they edged a steely Auckland outfit 25-23 in a high-paced final.

Zebre: Props to the Italians for a first win of the PRO12 season, which came largely off the back of their young fly-half Carlo Canna as they put away Edinburgh.

Broken Thermostat:

Argentina: Beaten in the semi-finals, absolutely, but Argentina went out in style. It’s a testament to the Wallabies' defence that they never got over the try-line, but some of the handling and running lines from los Pumas were exquisite. Madness in a semi-final maybe, but for entertainment they can’t be faulted. The future is bright for Argentina and Santiago Cordero is leading the charge with 100 metres on Sunday.

Brrrrr… someone get these guys a warm cup of soup!

Victor Matfield: The great lock has been a passenger in this World Cup for South Africa and came off the bench only to immediately concede a penalty for a neck roll, which cancelled out a chance for the Springboks to make it 20-18. A far from fitting farewell for the second rower whose last game for his country will be the Bronze final.

Bryan Habana: Another Springbok great who failed to deliver. Habana’s ill-timed charge allowed Carter to re-take what proved to be a crucial conversion. Then in the second half his clumsy collision with Nehe Milner-Skudder set up the All Blacks in Springbok territory ahead of Beauden Barrett’s try. He was then sin-binned for a cynical intentional knock-on in the build-up to Barrett's effort. Another poor farewell.

World Rugby's Public relations fail: Poor form from the game's governing body to hang Craig Joubert out to dry, releasing a statement regarding one isolated decision when so many other calls have been far worse…who would want to be a referee? 

Premiership Rugby: Simply trying to brush any potential salary cup breaches under the carpet with “confidential settlements” has not gone down well with fans or media alike. If the league are serious about keeping a strict hand on how much clubs spend on players, then those guilty need to be publicly reprimanded. That, or every club’s salaries need to be made public as with the NFL.

London Irish: The Exiles might have big plans and a bold new coaching setup but it seems like it’ll take plenty of time for them to make a dent in the league. Saturday’s 38-11 thrashing by Exeter Chiefs saw them finish with only 14 per cent possession.

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