It is time for our weekly wrap 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!
Rieko Ioane: Remember this name. New Zealand’s production line of freakishly gifted runners has given rugby a future super star. Aged just 17, Ioane was mesmerizing at the Wellington Sevens, scoring six tries, including two in the final.
England: The benchmark for this year’s Six Nations has been set. In what was their best performance since beating New Zealand in 2012, England shrugged off suggestions that their injury list made victory in Cardiff impossible and buried the demons of 2013 in the process. Stuart Lancaster called it the best moment of his career. With a handful of players returning this week, he has some big selection decisions.
Ireland: The defending Six Nations champions got off to a slowish start at Stadio Olimpico, but they finished with a flourish. Winning by 23 points in Rome is no mean feat these days so Joe Schmidt has reason to feel good.
All Blacks Sevens: The 27-21 scoreline flattered England in the final of the Wellington Sevens as the hosts claimed their first win over the Seven World Series this season and climbed to second in the overall standings.
Scotland Sevens: It was a great weekend for coach Calum MacRae and his charges as they matched their best ever performance in a World Series event by reacing the semi-finals at the Wellington Sevens. It was only the Scots’ fourth ever Cup semi-final and first outside of the UK. They were unlucky to lose narrowly to England before going down to South Africa in the playoff for third place. Scotland had more reason to cheer as Damien Hoyland finished as the tournament’s top try-scorer with seven tries.
James Haskell: Both Stuart Lancaster and Warren Gatland singled the Wasps flanker out for praise after a barnstorming display at the Millennium Stadium. Haskell has sometimes been criticised for coming off as egocentric, but this selfless performance epitomised the team spirit in the England side.
Mathieu Bastareaud: Some impressive stats from the France centre, who had his best night in Bleu in a long time. Defenders were beaten, offloads were delivered and turnovers were won on deck – Basta’s power was on display.
France: Philippe Saint-Andr