Who's hot…and who's not!

Date published: September 15 2014

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.

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.


New Zealand: Given a thorough examination by South Africa, the All Blacks took that winning run on home soil to 36 games in Wellington. The good moments were very good – everything about Richie McCaw's try was perfect – but the set-piece was tested. Still, they remain unbeaten in the Rugby Championship at look set for a third straight title. Bring on Ellis Park.

Saracens: Almost like a child of the All Blacks, Saracens were so clinical against Harlequins last Friday that they won 39-0 without really sweating. They also achieved that win without the following players – Jacques Burger, Marcelo Bosch, Schalk Brits, Juan Figallo, James Johnston, Jim Hamilton and Mako Vunipola. That's some serious squad depth.

Irish provinces: Four out of four for Ireland's Pro12 sides, with Leinster leading the way thanks to their 42-12 rout of the Scarlets in Dublin. Ulster brushed Zebre aside while Munster responded from last week's loss to Edinburgh. But the highlight was Connacht, pipping the same Scottish side by a point away from home.

Clermont: Top of the French league standings after their first-ever win at Ernest Wallon, les Januards are once again setting the pace during the regular season and have now gone four games without conceding a try!

Sireli Bobo's La Rochelle: Wingers aren't meant to still be playing at 38 years of age, but Bobo showed on Friday that he is still among the quickest men in the Top 14. A first score from the 22 was not enough for Bobo, who was a menace all game. With the victory already in the bag, Bobo collected a turnover deep inside his own 22, before sprinting fully 90 metres leaving the Castres defence in his wake. Three cheers for Sireli Bobo!

Handr̩ Pollard: Let's focus on one moment Рwith South Africa deep in their own half, 20-year-old Pollard in the biggest game of his life decided the Boks should exit their 22 with ball in hand. A changing of the guard perhaps. Pollard looks the real deal.

Ma'a Nonu: Played for nine minutes against the Boks with a broken arm. Hard.

Canterbury: Another 40-point win for Canterbury in the ITM Cup, this time over Wellington. Sometimes the stats say it best, so: Canterbury have a points difference of +156, have scored an average of 44.6 points in their five games so far and conceded an average of 13.4. Unreal.


Wallabies: Back-to-back victories for the Wallabies, but once again they failed to convince. Some woeful finishing saw a mountain load of possession wasted and a terrible final quarter meant that Argentina came within inches of snatching a draw. If it wasn't for some sympathetic refereeing at scrum time, it could have been a lot worse.

Springboks: It speaks volumes that many South African fans were content with a losing bonus point in Wellington. The Boks produced probably their best performance of the year, but a ninth loss to the All Blacks in the last ten games between the old rivals now means the Rugby Championship title seems beyond reach. For a team that bases their gameplan around field position, managing just 39 percent of the game in New Zealand's half will not please Heyneke Meyer.


Argentina: A place in the fridge may seen a bit harsh on los Pumas considering the final scoreline on the Gold Coast but if the honest truth was told, they were flattered by the losing bonus point. If Australia had converted half their opportunities, the game would have been over by half-time. The South Americans have become masters of the counter punch but if they are to get that first win, they need to start creating more opportunities.

France: While everyone else is in the process of refining their squad ahead of next year's World Cup, the French staff have announced that they are casting their net over a group of 74 players. That's right, 74…ten of whom are not even Frenchmen. Three years into the Philippe Saint-André era, les Bleus continue to return to square one. It remains to be seen whether adding chef Blanco will save or spoil the broth.

Willie le Roux: Arguably his worst game in a Springbok jersey. Le Roux did well to get back ahead of Aaron Smith in the second half when the pressure was on, but otherwise he misfired horribly with his passing, handling and kicking. A real disappointment.

Harlequins and London Welsh: Absolutely hammered, except Harlequins are meant to be playoff contenders. Nilled at home by Saracens, Quins couldn't get going and when they turned down the posts for the corner, never executed. Add in some poor defence and concerns over Nick Evans, who doesn't look near his best, and they have a problem. Welsh on the other hand did take a bonus point away from The Rec for scoring four tries, but again conceded over 50 points. Unless their tackling improves by about a lightyear, they will be down by Christmas.

Deon Stegmann and George Marich: The idiot's corner. Stegmann cost his Blue Bulls side a bonus point try in their win over the Kings, after his repeated elbows on the head of a Kings player at the bottom of a ruck were spotted. A straight red card was right, a ban will come. Marich was lucky to only see yellow for his kick of an opponent on the deck.

Castres and Toulouse It was