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!
Hurricanes: Where else to start but the champions. This wasn’t the same slick handling display in dire conditions that we saw in the quarter-final win over the Sharks but it did highlight another Hurricanes’ strength – the pressure they are able to create with their rush defence. They never let the Lions settle when the visitors were pinned back deep, and it was through that pressure that they built up a lead. And with the defence having not been breached either, the Hurricanes finished the knockout stages without having conceded a try. That’s remarkable.
Brad Shields: Given that Ardie Savea is a new All Black and Victor Vito was playing his final season in Wellington, it’s been easy for Shields to be somewhat forgotten about. The bearded blindside put his own hand up for Test honours on Saturday though with a brilliant outing. His tackle count of 14 only partially does justice in summing up a brilliant performance from the 25-year-old. Perhaps a first Test cap is on the way.
Beauden Barrett: Impressive command of the contest again by Barrett, whose goalkicking in the conditions was very impressive. Smart cross-kick for Cory Jane’s non-try also showed just how much confidence he’s played with over the last few weeks with the pressure on. His great season ends with a tankard.
How good! pic.twitter.com/AcF9TZ1Z4f
— Beauden Barrett (@beaudenbarrett) 7 August 2016
Wasps: A pretty good week for Wasps all things considered, having wrapped up the signing of Willie le Roux (hopefully not the 2016 version) before clinching the 2016 Premiership Sevens title on Sunday at the Ricoh Arena. Dai Young has some job on his hands fitting all those big names into that backline.
Camille Grassineau: One of France’s key players wrote her name into the history books against Spain when she became the first try scorer in the history of Sevens at the Olympics. Allez!
Camille Grassineau. First ever player to score a #Rugby7s try at the Olympics
History maker. pic.twitter.com/y74da66RLD
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) 6 August 2016
Namibia: Last year’s Rugby World Cup participants are Africa Cup champions once again following their 60-22 win over Zimbabwe this weekend, with familiar names Renaldo Bothma and Torsten van Jaarsveld as Namibia finished with a total of nine tries. That’s three straight titles in a row.
Cold as ice!
The Jaguares gamble: Wet and windy Wellington or a dry sunny Ellis Park? Think we all know which the Lions would have preferred. There’s no 100 percent guarantee that a full-strength Lions would have won against the Jaguares, or either that they would have defeated the Crusaders and Highlanders without the extra rest. But honestly, we think they would have on both fronts, to set up a home final. Johan Ackermann gambled and it backfired. It was a phenomenal year for the Lions, but what might have been?
Lions tactical kicking: Never under-estimate the importance of playing in the right areas. The Lions’ tactical kicking just wasn’t up to standard up against the superior Hurricanes, and they paid for it when they struggled to get out of their half. One lacklustre effort from Ruan Combrinck sticks out prior to Beauden Barrett knocking over a penalty.
Scotland’s RWC camp activities: After the infamous Kamp Staaldraad we assumed the crazy pre-Rugby World Cup camp stories were long over. But no! This effort from Scotland, told by former lock Jim Hamilton and involving rabbits, is truly unbelievable.