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.
With the Six Nations taking a weekend off our focus was back on the domestic leagues in Europe, along wth the final preparations ahead of Super Rugby.
They're on fire!
Josh Strauss: A brilliant performance from the Glasgow number eight as he carried for 104 metres, topped the tackle count for his side and rightly claimed the man of the match award in their victory over Munster. With Scotland's number eight shirt up for grabs this Six Nations, Vern Cotter would surely have been impressed by the Warriors back-row on Friday. We expect his name to be on the team sheet this weekend.
Dan Carter: Sublime assist for his old All Blacks team-mate Joe Rokocoko to win the game for Racing 92 against Grenoble.
Sila Puafisi and Dave Kilcoyne: It was all about the prop forwards in the first-half at Rugby Park on Friday. Two tries apiece went the way of Puafisi and Kilcoyne for Glasgow and Munster respectively as they showed the wings how it is done. Meanwhile in Swansea, Edinburgh prop Allan Dell opened the try account against Ospreys as maybe the winter weather is bringing out the confidence in rugby's front-row sluggers.
Matt Healy: With Simon Zebo, Keith Earls and Dave Kearney injured, what more does Healy have to do to get a call-up to Ireland's squad? He scored a hat-trick for Connacht on Saturday in their 51-34 win at Zebre, taking his season tally to ten in the PRO12. Definitely in form.
Worcester: That was a huge win over Sale at Sixways for the Warriors. Tries from Carl Kirwan, Francois Hougaard and Chris Pennell saw them past the Sharks, winning 31-23 against one of the form teams in the Premiership. After a tough week, this will have cheered up Dean Ryan.
Newcastle: Moved above Worcester in the Premiership table thanks to a crucial victory over Northampton at Kingston Park on Sunday. Special praise goes to veteran fly-half Andy Goode who led the way with a 16-point haul via four penalties and two conversions.
Get these guys a cup of warm soup!
Crusaders: Pre-season or not, that was worrying for the Crusaders as they shipped 74 points in defeat to the Hurricanes. Yes it was a side missing the likes of Kieran Read, Ryan Crotty, Luke Romano and Matt Todd, but that's no excuse for such a heavy loss as plenty of the team had ample Super Rugby experience. One does worry however if this is going to be a season to forget as their New Zealand rivals look strong.
FFR: France's stock isn't exactly at a high after recent struggles but calling up an ineligible player is a blunder almost beyond belief. No sooner had David Smith arrived in camp then he was packing his bags again after informing the coaching staff he'd previously played Sevens for New Zealand – something you'd have thought they might double check.
Leicester: That's three Premiership losses in a row for the Tigers as they followed up a home defeat to Sale and falling at Newcastle with a negative at Harlequins on Friday. That's left them dropping off the pace at the summit, with London Irish at home next up now a must win.
Jerome Kaino: The Blues captain saw red in his side's pre-season victory over the Chiefs in Pukekohe after flattening the Hamilton-based outfit's prop Pauliasi Manu with a punch to the face. The All Blacks flanker pleaded for leniency, citing his fine disciplinary record – this was his first red card in his illustrious career – but his pleas fell on deaf ears and he will now miss the Blues' Super Rugby opener against the Highlanders at Eden Park on Friday.
London Irish: While Worcester and Newcastle registered important victories, the Exiles went down at home to Exeter Chiefs. Although they picked up a losing bonus point, that defeat leaves them rooted to the bottom of the table on 13 points, five adrift of 11th-placed Worcester.