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.

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Thursday , September 18
Northland 20 - 31 TaranakiNorthland vs Taranaki Report
Wednesday, September 17
Southland 14 - 38 TasmanSouthland vs Tasman Report
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Sunday , September 14
Wasps 20 - 16 NorthamptonWasps vs Northampton Report
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Cardiff Blues 12 - 33 GlasgowCardiff Blues vs Glasgow Report
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Waikato 26 - 21 Counties ManukauWaikato vs Counties Manukau Report
Hawkes Bay 41 - 0 Otago
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Gloucester 34 - 27 Sale SharksGloucester vs Sale Sharks Report
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Toulouse 9 - 13 Clermont AuvergneToulouse vs Clermont Auvergne Report
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Griquas 31 - 27 PumasGriquas vs Pumas Report
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Bay Of Plenty 12 - 27 AucklandBay Of Plenty vs Auckland Report
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Friday , September 12
Harlequins 0 - 39 SaracensHarlequins vs Saracens Report
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PosTeamPPts
1Saracens29
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3Leicester Tigers29
4Exeter26
5Northampton26