Who’s hot… and who’s not!

Date published: September 8 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!

Jonny May: Another strong outing from the Gloucester winger who has improved every aspect of his game since being dropped during the Six Nations. May looked stronger and more sound defensively while still retaining his trademark pace.

Fiji: They might have been very rusty but Fiji still had way too much firepower for Canada to contain on Sunday, with Nikola Matawalu being exceptional.

Golden Lions: Although they battled in the second half of their 37-21 victory over the EP Kings, Johan Ackermann's troops secured their try-scoring bonus point after 30 minutes of that clash. That means that the Johannesburg-based outfit strengthened their position at the top of the Currie Cup standings and now have 25 points from five games, one point ahead of the Blue Bulls in second spot.

Ulster and Scarlets: A perfect start to the new season for Ulster, who cruised past the Ospreys on Friday evening. Ulster look better-placed than most to cope without their World Cup absentees and could rack up the points early on this season. Meanwhile, Scarlets broke the Glasgow's 20-game winning streak at Scotstoun Stadium, beating the defending Pro12 champions 10-16.

Clermont: Many teams went to Oyonnax last season and were conquered, making Clermont’s big win on Saturday all the more impressive. With a maximum 15 points from three games this season, they are already opening up a gap at the top of the table.


Broken thermostat

France: Winners against Scotland but far from convincing. France certainly have plenty of power up front, and dominated possession and territory. More concerning was just how lacking in ideas they seemed when they had the ball, and this display will have scared no one.

Scotland: Even though they lost, going for the win in the closing stages in Paris was the right decision and Scotland certainly can’t be accused of playing with a lack of ambition. In Finn Russell they look to have a gem at fly-half, and as things stand, they look to be in decent shape in the battle for a quarter-final spot.

Wales: The shocking injuries to two top players overshadowed a distinctly average performance from Wales in their final game before the World Cup. Having been impressive in Dublin, this was very concerning, with problems in the scrum and a number of players underperforming, not least the hapless Alex Cuthbert.

Italy: They lost, so can't be hot. But pushed Wales close in a massive improvement from Murrayfield horror show. The return of Sergio Parisse certainly had a big impact, and they will have taken a little confidence ahead of their World Cup opener against France.


Get these guys a cup of warm soup!

Tommy Bowe: One of the classiest wingers on his day, Bowe missed tackles at Twickenham and was completely at fault for England’s opening try when he was brushed off by Jonny May. One of his worst games in a green shirt. He'll just be relieved the World Cup squad was already picked before this game.

Zebre: There might be other teams with more players away at the World Cup, but arguably no team has been more affected than Zebre. On Sunday they had five debutants in their backline, with three more in the front five, and it showed as they were hammered by Cardiff Blues, conceding ten tries in total. The next few weeks could be pretty ugly.

EP Kings and Griquas: Both these teams are winless in the Currie Cup and are well off the pace of the teams above them. Although they were competitive in their recent matches, against the Golden Lions and Western Province respectively, they ran out of steam towards the end of those encounters. The Kings have three points from their five matches while Griquas are rock bottom with a solitary point so far after the same number of games.

Chiliboy Ralepelle: This week Ralepelle withdrew his appeal after testing positive for an anabolic steroid while recovering from a torn ACL last year. World Rugby have handed him a two-year ban as a result, and given he had already escaped a ban in 2010 when he tested positive for methylhexanamine while touring with the Springboks, it's hard to have much sympathy.

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