Who’s hot… and who’s not!

Date published: July 14 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!

Seven-try Springboks: The World XV were more than a little rusty but you can't fault the Boks for the way they approached the game in Cape Town. Almost 50 points against a team packed with quality individuals is not to be sniffed at. They'll go into the Rugby Championship with plenty of confidence and momentum.

All Blacks in Samoa: They took their time but finally New Zealand have played a first international in Samoa. Boy did they get a workout too with the All Blacks having to battle hard to win 25-16. Samoa's defence was predictably fierce as they unsettled the world champions, who could only manage one try through George Moala. Yes the kiwis were missing their Highlanders and Hurricanes but Samoa showed they would test any visitor to their country. The fact that the game happened at all is more important than the result. Let's hope the next one soon follows.

France Sevens: Job done. France are heading to the Rio Olympics after winning the Rugby Europe Grand Prix 7s Series event in Exeter on Sunday. They secured their passage to Brazil by reaching the semi-final stage with victory over Wales but then beat Germany and finally England to add the cherry on top of an impressive weekend.

Jesse Kriel and Marcell Coetzee: These two were under the spotlight at Newlands as Kriel made his first senior appearance at 13 and Coetzee was trialled on the Springbok blindside flank. Both came through the test with flying colours as Kriel impressed with his footwork and pace while Coetzee worked tirelessly across the park, giving Heyneke Meyer plenty of food for thought.

Maori All Blacks: Victory over Fiji in Suva is not an easy task but the Maori All Blacks managed it, winning 27-26 to extend their winning run to nineteen games. Their last loss came way back in 2012 which is some achievement from Colin Cooper's men who face the NZ Barbarians next week in Auckland.

Willie le Roux and Damian de Allende: Springbok full-back Le Roux has had a relatively quiet year with the Cheetahs, but he kicked off his international season with a bang as he bagged a hat-trick against the World XV, showing once again what a threat he is in attack. Meanwhile, De Allende bagged two tries of his own, both outstanding efforts from the inside centre who is now surely be a starter at the World Cup.

Double Pan Am Sevens Gold for Canada: Canada's Women's Sevens team have the honour of being the first-ever Pan American Games women's rugby sevens champions, winning the inaugural gold medal with three resounding victories on Day Two of the competition. Meanwhile, Canada's Men's Sevens team overcame the odds to complete the host nation's double-gold performance on the day, winning the 2015 Pan American Games gold medal with three inspirational victories on Day Two of the competition.

Someone fetch these guys a warm cuppa soup!

British and Irish Lions schedule: 2017's tour fixtures were announced on Friday and while the excitement is of course there, it's important to notice there is no stop in Fiji, Samoa or Tonga en route to New Zealand. What a special occasion that would have been but alas money has talked which can also be said for two Tests being played at the expanded Eden Park in Auckland. It's a real shame passionate Dunedin fans miss out on a Test at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

England's axed five: Not hot in the eyes of the England coaching team as the first five players leaving their World Cup training squad are Maro Itoje, Elliot Daly, Stephen Myler, Ed Slater and Nick Easter (treatment on a sore back). They will of course remain in the back of the minds of the selectors but it is going to be tough to make an impression as the rest of the squad head to Denver for the next part of their preparations.

Jannie du Plessis: The Springbok front-row has gained a reputation for doing some daft things on a rugby field but his illegal shoulder charge to the head of a prone Bakkies Botha at a ruck was certainly a new kind of stupid by Du Plessis' standards. The cheap shot went unpunished by referee John Lacey and Du Plessis can consider himself lucky not be cited for the offence.

Newlands crowd: While the rugby was entertaining between the Springboks and the World XV, it was noticeable that there were plenty of empty seats in the stadium. 27,981 was the official crowd figure at Newlands which is well below capacity at South Africa's oldest Test venue. There was a similar situation when the Stormers hosted the Brumbies in a Super Rugby play-off at the same ground last month and it looks like the high price for tickets at these two matches could have scared off fans at a venue which in the past was usually filled to capacity for high-profile matches.

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