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 fiiiiiiire!
Ireland: Ruthlessly clinical against England, the Six Nations champions had Sunday’s big game wrapped up after Robbie Henshaw’s try. The young centre was a standout defensively as Ireland stay unbeaten and on track for a Grand Slam. Another clinic from coach Joe Schmidt.
Italy: Stunned the Scots with only their second ever win on the road in the Six Nations. Joshua Furno was a towering presence for the Azzurri as they clinched victory at Murrayfield with that last-gasp Penalty Try. No one deserved victory more than Sergio Parisse, who was once again playing on another level.
Dan Lydiate: Frequently touted as being one-dimensional, Lydiate’s brilliant pass set up Dan Biggar for Wales’ crucial try in the second half in Paris as they made it back-to-back wins away from home. SBW would have been proud.
Hurricanes: Three from three now at the top of the Super Rugby table, the ‘Canes outclassed the Force in Perth last Friday scoring some super tries with Julian Savea in bullying mode. What’s most impressive is that they are yet to play at home, getting the job done in South Africa and Australia. The Chiefs are hot on their heels.
Bulls and Cheetahs: Having started this year’s Super Rugby competition in shaky fashion the Bulls stunned the Sharks at Loftus, even denying the visitors a losing bonus point with the conversion of their crucial fourth try. The day before, Joe Pietersen’s boot proved decisive yet again for the Cheetahs with his winning penalty against the Blues, giving them back-to-back wins as they remain unbeaten.
Wasps: Back in the top four of the Premiership with their win over Gloucester on Sunday, Wasps have kicked on since making the move to Coventry and had director of rugby Dai Young’s son Thomas run in two tries in their big win.
Munster: The Irish province’s win over Glasgow Warriors on Saturday saw them switch places with their title rivals to go top of the Pro12 by a single point, running in four tries against their depleted opponents.
Brrrrrr it’s cold down here.
France: For first time since the 1950s, the XV de France have lost four-straight games to Wales. There is now no doubt that the France team of the Philippe Saint-André era is the worst French side since the game went professional. The rot continues for les Bleus as PSA appears to grow increasingly frustrated with his players’ inability to deliver. His quotes on Sunday were fascinating: “I only want players who are ready to go to the end of the world. If anyone thinks that international rugby is too difficult, then they have my telephone number.”
England: When the penalties start mounting England really struggle, but it was how far off the pace their game management and execution appeared to be against Ireland that will really irritate Stuart Lancaster. The title is still possible, but England need a favour from Wales. No Grand Slam now for 12 years.
Scotland: How is it possible that after so much improvement last November, Scotland are now winless through the first three matches of the Six Nations? This was meant to be the year they threatened, not took a backwards step. Tough games against England and Ireland remain, meaning they may finish up with five losses.
Crusaders: So flat in Hamilton it was a miracle they weren’t beaten by more than 24 points. The Crusaders lacked any cutting edge out wide and were bullied upfront by the frenetic Chiefs. Carter, Dagg, Nadolo and Read are all yet to return, but the seven-time champions are struggling.
Bath and Harlequins: Dropping out of the top four, Bath have now lost their last three Premiership matches to Saracens, Northampton and Exeter – all playoff rivals. Harlequins meanwhile have also lost their last three in the league, sliding down all the way to 9th.
Treviso: Still in contention away to Connacht on Sunday at half-time, the Italians then completely flopped by conceding six tries in the second half alone. Six! There's no better way of saying "we give up" on a rugby field than that.
Howard Mnisi: The jury is still out on whether the Lions were being brave or just silly by – twice – turning down three easy points that would have saved a draw against the Stormers. However, the verdict would have been irrelevant if the Lions wing had managed to hold on once he had crossed the tryline after the final hooter. Credit to Damian de Allende for that tackle, but Mnisi must take the blame for knocking on again when his team were given a second chance at snatching victory.