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!
Scotland Sevens: The country who invented the shortened version of the game claimed their first ever World Rugby Sevens Series victory when they beat South Africa in a thrilling final at the London Sevens on Sunday. The Scots looked dead and buried after Rosko Specman scored for the Blitzbokke but Dougie Fife had other ideas and crossed for two late tries to seal a memorable triumph for his side. A mention to for Fiji who made it back-to-back Series titles and now having their eyes on gold in Rio.
Exeter: A first-ever Premiership Final awaits for Devon’s finest this weekend, and what an atmosphere the Chiefs clan will bring to Twickenham. They have laid the blueprint for teams coming up from the Championship of how to not only become part of the Premiership furniture, but a force as well. Wasps were no pushover and in blustery conditions Exeter held their nerve, winning the game through the power of their pack.
Connacht: What an afternoon in the Galway sunshine for those men in green. Connacht are through to a first PRO12 final, in their first season in the play-offs, and you can bet that everybody outside of Dublin will be cheering them on to complete a remarkable campaign. Niyi Adeolokun’s finish was special, just like the scenes at the end at the Sportsground. Remarkable stuff.
Sharks: The Kings have been the tournament’s whipping boys this season and although the men from Durban were expected to win comfortably, they deserve praise for preventing their opponents from breaking their duck and for notching a deserved half century of points.
James O’Connor: The Wallaby utility back was in superb try-scoring form for Toulon in their one-sided away victory at Agen, crossing the whitewash on four occasions. His achievement helped Toulon to push up their points difference which could be crucial at the end of the season, given they are currently in joint second position alongside Montpellier with just two rounds of matches to play.
Jarryd Hayne: The jury’s still out on the code hopper after his sensational switch from the NFL last week. Hayne made his debut for Fiji at the London Sevens and hardly set the world alight. He looked keen to get involved in all of the matches he played in and didn’t get onto the field during Fiji’s semi-final loss to South Africa which says a lot about his development in the shortened version of the game. More time needed.
— Sonny Bill Williams (@SonnyBWilliams) 22 May 2016
Get these guys a cup of warm soup!
Agen and La Rochelle: These two Top 14 sides got what they deserved, after below-par performances, and conceded 50 points against Toulon and Castres respectively. Agen are already doomed to relegation, which could explain their effort, and although La Rochelle are safe from the drop they hardly troubled Castres, who are just three places above them on the table.
Stormers: The men from the Cape have been South Africa’s flagbearers in recent seasons but, after a solid start to their campaign, things have gone pear-shaped in recent weeks. They are without a win in their last three matches after drawing with the Sunwolves and losing to the Waratahs and Bulls.
Jaguares: After going close against the Sharks this was one-way traffic, with the Jaguares conceding their most points in a Super Rugby match so far in that 52-24 loss at Ellis Park to the Lions. Those high hopes at the start of the season feel a long time ago.