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!
Ma’a Nonu: Victory against Leinster in his first Champions Cup match for Toulon rounded off a superb week for the Rugby World Cup winner. The All Blacks centre was a worthy winner of New Zealand Rugby’s Kelvin R Tremain Player of the Year award after impressing for the Hurricanes in Super Rugby and his country at the World Cup.
Blitzbokke: Cape Town put on a terrific display as they hosted South Africa’s leg of the World Sevens Series for the first time and the host nation’s team didn’t disappoint as they won the tournament for the third time in a row on home soil after beating Argentina in a thrilling final. After Saturday’s disappointing loss to Kenya, this was an impressive response.
Dan Carter: World Rugby’s Player of the Year showed his class with a superb all-round performance in his debut for Racing 92 in their Champions Cup triumph over Northampton. Carter continued where left off at the World Cup by orchestrating Saints’ with a controlled display, pulling the strings on attack and also putting his body on the line in contact.
Enisei-STM: The Siberian-based side were responsible for arguably the biggest shock in the history of the Challenge Cup when they beat former Champions Cup winners Brive at the weekend. The result was a memorable one for Enisei-STM as it was their first-ever win in the competition.
Taqele Naiyaravoro: It seems like the former Waratahs has settled into life in Glasgow. Naiyaravoro helped his new club thrash the Scarlets in the Champions Cup and scored a hat-trick, but the touchline denied him a potential Try of the Year worthy score.
George Ford: Cometh the hour, cometh the man seems to be the perfect way to describe the England pivot’s last-gasp conversion which clinched a memorable Champions Cup victory for Bath against Wasps at the Ricoh Arena. Ford showed great composure as he landed his kick from the touchline to break Wasps supporters’ hearts.
Ulster, Saracens, Leicester, Exeter: Big wins for this quartet, all starting with Ulster’s 38-0 thrashing of Toulouse at Ravenhill – an outstanding five-try win for the history books. Meanwhile, Saracens remain unbeaten this season, Leicester became the first away team to win twice at Thomond Park in Europe and finally Exeter secured a bonus-point win over mighty Clermont. All very impressive.
Someone fetch these guys a warm cuppa soup!
Toulouse: A 38-0 defeat in Europe? The four-time champions? That wasn’t in the script. Being shut out at this level is embarrassing, especially when you’re as highly revered as Ugo Mola’s group.
Leinster: Three defeats from three matches is a depressing record for the Irish province record in the Champions Cup after their they were put to the sword by the champions Toulon. Discipline – or rather a lack thereof – led to Leinster’s downfall at Stade Felix Mayol as Cian Healy, Devin Toner and Tom Denton all received yellow cards.
New Zealand Sevens: Things are going from bad to worse for Gordon Tietjens’ side after another poor showing at the Cape Town Sevens. Knocked out of the Cup competition in the quarter-finals they were relegated to the Plate, where they lost in the semi-finals to the USA. This means they are languishing in seventh spot on the overall table on 25 points from two tournaments.
Isaac Te Tamaki: On top of NZ’s nightmare time in Cape Town was this horrendous tackle in extra-time against Argentina. Te Tamaki was shown a red card and can expect to hear from the citing commissioner very soon.
England Sevens: Bad weekend in the Mother City for Simon Amor and his players, who were well beaten in the Bowl final against Scotland. Dan Norton looks to have lost a yard of pace and without that threat, England’s attack looked a little blunt. This was somewhat of a surprise after making the final in Dubai.