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!
Kenya Sevens: The Africans claimed their first ever World Rugby Sevens Series victory when they beat series leaders Fiji in a one-sided final at the Singapore Sevens on Sunday. Special mention to Collins Injera, who scored two tries in the final to close in on Argentina’s Santiago Gomez Cora record at the top of the all-time try scoring chart. Injera also kicked the winning drop goal in Kenya’s semi-final win over Argentina.
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) 17 April 2016
Christian Wade: The Wasps flyer got his name into the record books as he crossed for six tries in his side’s triumph over Worcester Warriors. The achievement equals the Premiership record – held by Saracens’ Ryan Constable – for most tries in a single match and is a timely reminder to England head coach Eddie Jones ahead of the tour to Australia.
Hurricanes: Last year’s finalists and regular-season winners looked somewhere near back to their best on Friday with an impressive win at the Rebels. Beauden Barrett scored a couple while Ardie Savea and Dane Coles again impressed up front as they responded to their coach’s call to bring a ruthless edge to their game. It was another decent weekend for the New Zealand teams as the three other sides playing also won.
Joe Tomane and Sergeal Petersen: Hat-tricks for the Brumbies and Cheetahs wings over the weekend as Tomane ran in three against the ‘Tahs while Petersen enjoyed his night against the Sunwolves. The Cheetahs finisher could easily have had four tries but handed one on to number eight Paul Schoeman, who himself finished with a treble. These two wingers were electric though and are key to their team’s hopes in 2016.
Connacht: Are joint top of the PRO12 standings after completing the double over Munster, in their Irish derby at the weekend. Midfielder Bundee Aki led the way with another superb attacking performance and the result could have dire consequences for Munster’s hopes of finishing in the top six in the PRO12.
Elton Jantjies: The Lions pivot must be a shoo-in for the Springboks’ number 10 jersey for the three-Test series against Ireland in June after another brilliant display in his side’s victory over the Stormers in Johannesburg. Jantjies has played in the shadow of players like Handre Pollard and Pst Lambie for several seasons but with both injured he is seizing his opportunity by delivering several superb attacking performances on a consistent basis.
Someone get these guys a warm cup of soup!
Sunwolves: That was embarrassing. Granted the Cheetahs were in lethal form but no team in Super Rugby should be beaten by 92 points to 17. On numerous occasions the Sunwolves defence looked optional as one line break and it was curtains for them stopping the try. Fourteen were carded by the Cheetahs in a margin that surprised many, particularly as the new franchise had recalled several who should have been fresh.
Treviso: Criticised by Ospreys forwards coach Chris Gibbes after the Welsh side ran out 47-10 winners on Friday, Treviso remain rooted to the foot of the PRO12 standings after just two wins all season. Only eleventh-placed Zebre have a worse points and tries conceded record.
Rebels playing surface: Julian Savea will champion this moan as he was a victim of the poor playing surface in Melbourne. The pitch cut up at AAMI Park from the off, so much so that ground staff were sneaking on throughout to do patch-up work. Not good ahead of the June Tests.
London Irish: Came off second best in their basement battle with Newcastle Falcons and are set to be relegated for the first time from the Premiership. With just four wins this season and some of their best players ready to trigger relegation clauses in their contracts, things can only get better for the Exiles.
Match officials: Week after week there is a glaring talking point sparking from a decision, or non-decision, from the officials. Worryingly the frequency seems to be increasing to a game-by-game issue, with Friday’s PRO12 match in Dublin seeing Fergus McFadden avoid a card for the below tackle. It is also becoming tiresome that several assistant referees appear petrified to offer their referee a view as many have become over-reliant on the TMO. Yes there will be human errors but it’s concerning how many we are witnessing and how it is upsetting fans.
Freddie Burns and Fergus McFadden: A busy week ahead you feel for citing commissioners after these two incidents, starting with Burns against Northampton and then McFadden’s mad “tackle attempt” on Edinburgh’s Damien Hoyland.
— Jess Kebbell (@JessKebbell) 17 April 2016