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.
The start of the Six Nations and action at the Sydney Sevens means there’s plenty to talk about as we review a busy weekend.
Let’s get into it.
They’re on fire!!
CJ Stander: Given his form for Munster this season it’s not a stunner that CJ Stander was named Man of the Match in Ireland’s draw with Wales. Stander according to the stats made 23 carries – very impressive.
Billy Vunipola: Another back-row with a Man of the Match award, Vunipola constantly battered Scotland’s defensive line and even if he didn’t make a ton of ground, his 19 runs drained the opposition’s energy.
Wales: A lot of teams would crumble faced with a 13-0 deficit away from home in Dublin, so credit to Warren Gatland’s side for the character they showed in settling down and chipping away at Ireland’s lead until they set themselves up for a chance to win late on. 21 tackles too from Jamie Roberts and Taulupe Faletau is some shift.
Akira and Reiko Ioane: The two brothers, only 20 and 18, once again stormed the Sevens in Sydney. Akira’s try against Fiji was hugely impressive and his brother Reiko clinched back-to-back titles with the winning try against Australia in the final.
Northampton: This game looked dead and buried as Harlequins kicked to touch to secure a win in the Premiership on Saturday… except the home side missed touch, allowing Northampton to counter attack before Ben Foden’s winning try. Unbelievable!
Harry Hutchison: Australia may have fallen short in the Sydney Sevens final but the 18-year-old was outstanding throughout, scoring the extra-time winner against England in the quarter-final.
Italy and Sergio Parisse: First of all, the Azzurri completely defied expectations with an exciting, energetic outing against France in Paris that surpassed all pre-tournament expectations. Carlo Canna’s missed kicks unfortunately proved to be costly, but he looks like a huge talent. As for Parisse, we can respect him taking the responsibility on his shoulders to try for a winning drop goal, but there were certainly other options and his execution was way off the mark.
Rhys Priestland: Written off by many people in the past, Priestland replaced Dan Biggar early in Dublin and landed some important penalties… but his missed drop goal attempt towards the end could have been far better.
Brrrrr someone get these guys a warm cup of soup!
Scotland: There was a ton of hype around Scotland’s first run out since their Rugby World Cup quarter-final loss. They just couldn’t break England down and their one key chance – Finn Russell’s interception – was wasted with Stuart Hogg available on his outside. We said a first win over England since 2008 would confirm Scotland were major contenders, so therefore we still have plenty of doubts.
Exeter’s disallowed try: Up 11-0 at home to Saracens, a loose ball – off the knee of Olly Woodburn and then a Saracens hand -was grounded by Chiefs lock Ollie Atkins. Referee Tom Foley, however, incorrectly ruled for a knock-on and the try was ruled out when it shouldn’t have been. Saracens went on to win 14-11.
Worcester: Warriors were only defeated 20-13 away to London Irish on Sunday, but it could have been far worse had the Exiles been more prolific. The promoted side now find themselves in a three-way relegation battle with both Irish and Newcastle.