Planet Rugby

Who's hot...and who's not!

11th August 2014 08:12

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Hot or not feature August 11 2014

Hot: Comeback hero Smith - Not: Misfiring Black Ferns

It's time for Planet Rugby's weekly wrap 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!

Juan Smith: In February 2013 Smith announced his retirement from rugby because of a troublesome Achilles injury. On Wednesday, he was called up to the Springboks squad for the Rugby Championship after a sensational season in France for Toulon. We're yet to be entirely convinced about Heyneke Meyer's decision to use him at lock, but knowing Smith, he'll do a fine job there as well.

Western Province and Golden Lions: Both scored late tries to secure bonus points in their respective wins over the EP Kings and Blue Bulls to set the early pace in the Currie Cup. Points away from home are always crucial and WP will happy with their second half after blowing hot and cold before the break in Port Elizabeth. Meanwhile, in Jozi, the Lions were rewarded for their positive intent as they gave the Bulls a lesson in how to keep ball in hand.

Luke Watson: It's not often that a player on the losing team is named the Man of the Match, but the Kings skipper was well worth the award. But that's not why he makes the 'hot' section this week. Instead, we want to applaud the ex-Bok for his setting a positive example. Watson came within inches of scoring a try, only to have the ball knocked from his hands in the act of diving over. Rather than allowing everyone's time to be wasted with multiple TMO reviews, he told the ref he hadn't got it down, so they could get on with the game. Let's hope he starts a trend.

Women's World Cup semi-finalists: Hosts France will face Canada while Ireland will face England in the final four. A 13-all draw between England and Canada was enough to ensure they both progressed, knocking New Zealand out in the process. Ireland had earlier booked their place in the semis for the first time after they cruised past Kazakhstan 40-5. In the final game on Saturday, France faced their toughest test yet but eventually prevailed 17-3 against Australia to finish as the top qualifiers in the pool stages.

Gloucester: The Cherry and Whites wrapped up back-to-back Premiership Rugby 7s titles on Friday as they overcame the Dragons in the final with Steph Reynolds the standout performer.

Clermont, Lyon, Brive, Toulon: A perfect record in pre-season for these four outfits, with Clermont looking irresistible in convincing wins over Montpellier and Connacht as new fly-half Camille Lopez stood out in particular. Promoted Lyon picked up the scalp of Stade Français while Brive beat last year's runners-up Castres. Victories over Toulouse and Racing showed that Toulon are already in form, although an injury to Mamuka Gorgodze is a cause for concern.


Broken thermostat:

Sharks: There are no easy points to be gained in Kimberley these days but the Sharks will head home harbouring a few regrets after failing to pick up a full house, despite playing against 14 men for 73 minutes. In the end, they were relieved just to get the win. Credit to the Griquas for fighting to the death and earning a deserved losing bonus point.

Jonathan Kaplan: It's rare to hear refs or even ex-refs call out their fellow officials, but the uncomfortable truth is Kaplan's comments about officiating standards in Super Rugby - the TMOs especially - could well be warranted. Having said that, Craig Joubert and co. can't be too impressed at being undermined by a former colleague, and you can bet that Kaplan would not have enjoyed his performances being criticised in the same way during his own career.


Get these guys a cup of warm soup!

Black Ferns: They had not lost a World Cup game for 23 years, but defeat to Ireland in their second pool game was enough to see New Zealand knocked out of the Women's Rugby World Cup before the semi-finals. It represents the worst result in their history and means that, after four straight titles, someone else will now be crowned world champs.

SA Women: After losing their captain Mandisa Williams to a 16-week ban, for alleged eye gouging, and suffering a 26-3 defeat to Australia in their tournament opener, things have gone from bad to worse for the Springbok women's team. Coach Lawrence Sephaka's charges suffered a 55-3 loss to hosts France in their second match before Wales thrashed them 35-3 in their final pool game at the weekend. That means they have amassed a paltry nine points throughout the tournament and conceded 116 points in the process.

Parisian Clubs: Four pre-season matches, no wins. It doesn't make for pretty reading for Stade Français and Racing-Métro. If the latter will not be too worried by a hard-fought defeat to Toulon in their second pre-season game, there will be greater concern for Gonzalo Quesada's men. A hammering from Castres was followed up with a 24-14 loss to ProD2 champions Lyon. After finishing last season with just one win from their last seven matches in all competitions, is it time to worry?

Philippe Saint-André: Things don't get any better for the beleaguered French coach with the arrival of Serge Blanco in a more hands-on role with the national team. Whether the man who oversaw Biarritz's relegation is the person to babysit Saint-André and turn things around for France, remains to be seen, however. It does seem that Blanco will use his influence to stop Rory Kockott getting called up in November.

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 26
London Welsh vs Gloucester19:45
Saturday , September 27
Saracens vs Sale15:00
Leicester vs London Irish15:00
Northampton vs Bath15:15
Sunday , September 28
Exeter vs Harlequins14:00
Wasps vs Newcastle14:00
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Rugby Championship
Saturday , September 27
South Africa vs Australia16:05
Argentina vs New Zealand23:10
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Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 26
Edinburgh vs Scarlets19:35
Leinster vs Cardiff Blues19:35
Glasgow vs Connacht19:35
Saturday , September 27
Zebre vs Ulster15:00
Munster vs Ospreys18:30
Sunday , September 28
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Benetton Treviso16:00
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Top 14
Saturday , September 27
Toulon vs Montpellier18:00
Stade Francais vs La Rochelle18:00
Bayonne vs Toulouse18:00
Brive vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Oyonnax vs Clermont Auvergne18:00
Lyon vs Castres18:00
Grenoble vs Racing Metro Paris18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 26
Cheetahs vs Blue Bulls19:10
Pumas vs Western Province19:00
Saturday , September 27
Sharks vs Eastern Province Kings14:00
Griquas vs Lions15:00
More Currie Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle 10 - 35 NorthamptonNewcastle vs Northampton Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Ospreys 62 - 13 EdinburghOspreys vs Edinburgh Report
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ITM Cup
Otago 38 - 7 WaikatoOtago vs Waikato Report
Wellington 20 - 42 TasmanWellington vs Tasman Report
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Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 20
Sale 46 - 8 London WelshSale vs London Welsh Report
Harlequins 26 - 23 WaspsHarlequins vs Wasps Report
London Irish 32 - 36 SaracensLondon Irish vs Saracens Report
Bath 45 - 0 LeicesterBath vs Leicester Report
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Guinness PRO12
Newport Gwent D'gons 13 - 33 GlasgowNewport Gwent D
Scarlets 43 - 0 Benetton TrevisoScarlets vs Benetton Treviso Report
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Top 14
Racing Metro Paris 27 - 16 ToulouseRacing Metro Paris vs Toulouse Report
Grenoble 24 - 15 Bayonne
Montpellier 23 - 3 Stade FrancaisMontpellier vs Stade Francais Report
La Rochelle 26 - 29 Bordeaux-Begles
Clermont Auvergne 43 - 12 LyonClermont Auvergne vs Lyon Report
Castres 27 - 18 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Western Province 36 - 12 GriquasWestern Province vs Griquas Report
Blue Bulls 15 - 26 SharksBlue Bulls vs Sharks Report
Eastern Province Kings 22 - 37 CheetahsEastern Province Kings vs Cheetahs Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Hawkes Bay 36 - 17 Bay Of Plenty
Manawatu 36 - 17 Southland
Auckland 32 - 7 North HarbourAuckland vs North Harbour Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 19
Gloucester 22 - 25 ExeterGloucester vs Exeter Report
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Guinness PRO12
Munster 31 - 5 ZebreMunster vs Zebre Report
Cardiff Blues 9 - 26 UlsterCardiff Blues vs Ulster Report
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Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath314
2Saracens313
3Northampton311
4Exeter310
5Leicester Tigers39