Who’s hot and who’s not!

Date published: March 16 2016

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!

Connacht: The Irish province are the in-form team in the PRO12 at the moment and moved to the top of the standings after beating Treviso 33-19 at the Sportsground. That result means Pat Lam's outfit have only lost once from their opening seven matches and they have now notched a fifth win on the trot for the first time in 13 years.

Wasps and Elliot Daly: Dai Young's troops returned to the victory trail in style with a 23-3 home win over Gloucester at the weekend. The goalkicking of Daly was particularly impressive and the England utility back caught the eye with three long-range efforts of which two were beyond the 50-metre mark.

Castres: After an uninspiring start to their campaign, Castres bounced back with an emphatic 34-8 bonus-point win at home over Racing 92. The result gives them much-needed breathing space on the Top 14 table and they are currently in 10th position with 15 points from eight matches.

Toulouse: France head coach Guy Novès returned to Stade Ernest Wallon for the first time since taking over as national coach and he must have liked what he saw as Toulouse scored eight tries in their 52-12 demolition of Grenoble. Gaël Fickou led the way with a hat-trick of tries as the Top 14 heavyweights moved up to second with this result.

Worcester Warriors: After returning to the top flight at the start of the season, Worcester consolidated their position amongst the big boys with a deserved 28-20 bonus-point victory over Newcastle Falcons. That results means Worcester are now in sixth spot on the table with two victories from their first four matches – a strong start as they look to avoid another yo-yo season.

Get these guys a cup of warm soup!

Northampton: A tough 6-12 home loss to Saracens on Saturday means that the Saints, who we tipped for big success in 2015/2016, have dropped to 10th in the table with three losses from their first four fixtures. It’s early days at Franklin’s Gardens but you can bet jump-start is required. They take on the Scarlets in the Champions Cup this weekend.

Sam Burgess fall-out: It all ended in tears. Burgess has left English rugby red-faced after opting to return to Australia and to the South Sydney Rabbitohs after winning five caps for his country. Pinning the whole blame for England’s World Cup exit on his shoulders would be grossly unfair. But it feels like a criminal waste of a rugby talent that we won’t see Burgess pursuing his career with Bath, where he could have developed into a threatening blindside flanker. What a mess.

Brendan McKibbin: London Irish can barely catch a break at the moment, so the last thing they needed was for their scrum-half to be shown a straight red card after 20 minutes against Bath. With his pack on the march towards Bath’s try line with a maul McKibbin dished out some careless footwork to the head of a Bath player on the ground and was rightly shown red. Irish have now played four, lost four, in a rough start for Tom Coventry. We'd like to place a Ladbrokes promotion code that he goes on to greater things. 

Oyonnax: We feared that Oyonnax would struggle after the loss of key personnel over the off-season along with the departure of coach Christophe Urios, and it’s turning out that way. Oyonnax slipped to their sixth defeat of the season on the weekend, taking a 38-3 pasting away on the road to La Rochelle to stay rooted in the bottom two. Next up for them is the visit of Ulster on Saturday.

Montpellier: Jake White’s men received the full Quade Cooper treatment on Saturday when they were undone by the new Toulon fly-half’s box of tricks. Montpellier went down 52-8 at the Stade Felix Mayol even after Cooper had gifted an interception score to Julien Malzieu. Ouch.