Planet Rugby

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

04th February 2014 09:24


Hot or not feature image2 2

Hot: Ireland - Not: Worcester

It is time for our 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!

Ireland: The Joe Schmidt coaching era showed positive early signs in November of 2013 and they followed that up by getting 2014 off to a decent start with victory over Scotland. Led by Jamie Heaslip after Paul O'Connell's late withdrawal because of a chest infection, the likes of Cian Healy, Peter O'Mahony and Rob Kearney stood out in Dublin as the Irish crossed three times in total. They will hope O'Connell returns for Saturday's mouth-watering clash with Wales.

Michele Campagnaro: Campagnaro, like Italy, can take a lot out of the game at the Millennium Stadium as they made the Six Nations holders sweat for the two points. The 20-year-old stole the show in Cardiff with two well taken tries that ultimately saw Italy push Wales - who held on for a 23-15 win - all the way. Few people had expected such a close scoreline, particularly when seeing relative international unknowns such as Campagnaro and Angelo Esposito in the side. Credit to boss Jacques Brunel and the rest of the Azzurri.

Billy Vunipola: England's shining light in Paris. Vunipola played one of his best games in a white jersey as France struggled to keep him under wraps. Power, speed and offloads, the Saracens number eight broke tackles galore en route to creating both of the visitors' tries. Unfortunate to be on the losing side after his seventeen carries gave Stuart Lancaster's men plenty of front-foot ball. A key man moving forward towards hosting the World Cup.

France: 2013 was a dismal year for Les Bleus as Philippe Saint-André's side won two out of eleven fixtures. A new year seems to bring fresh hope for France as players such as Jules Plisson, Nyanga, Thomas Domingo and Brice Dulin starred in their 26-24 victory over England. There was real heart in the showing but as has become France's way, they are predictably unpredictable. For example, this week they host Italy, which should be a simple win...whether that happens will be an indicator of if they can claim this Six Nations title.

Bath and Cardiff Blues: Bath came agonisingly close to edging Leicester at Welford Road in January when they met in the Aviva Premiership before a late score held them to a 27-27 draw. But a month later they finally secured what is their first victory in over a decade at the home of the Tigers as tries from Alafoti Fa'osiliva, Matt Banahan, Ollie Devoto and Carl Fearns saw them beat Leicester 17-35. Mentions also for the trio of teams joining Bath in the LV= Cup semi-finals - Saracens, Northampton Saints and Exeter Chiefs - while Cardiff Blues deserve a nod of approval following their impressive 35-5 win over Harlequins. Bath will host Exeter while Saracens go to Franklin's Gardens in all-English knockout ties.

Get these guys a cup of warm soup!

Worcester: Another L in the results column for the Warriors, this time by a 3-42 scoreline at home to Exeter Chiefs. Five tries were put past Dean Ryan's men in that LV= Cup defeat, but what makes it worse is that this wasn't a drastically weakened Worcester line-up. Granted, the Chiefs were only minus Jack Nowell, but losing by such a margin is another worry for Worcester, who will host Leicester Tigers in the Aviva Premiership on Friday.

Scotland: They were in it for 39 minutes before Andrew Trimble's try made it 11-3. Scotland though were taking body blows without landing significant ones of their own so it was only a matter of time before the floodgates opened. The past weekend's biggest losers in terms of scoreline, Scotland will need to up their attacking game if they are to record a victory in Six Nations 2014. Remember, they must go to the Stadio Olimpico. Wooden Spoon?

England bench: Pre-planned changes often rankle, particularly when a player is in top form on the field. That is what happened in Paris on Saturday from an England perspective as Danny Care was replaced by Lee Dickson on 61 minutes. Now for supporters, changes are meant to improve the side when fatigue sets in - but unfortunately for England that didn't happen. What was also a blunder in our eyes was the backline bench selection of Alex Goode and Brad Barritt. The injury to Jonny May meant not one but two changes as Mike Brown - arguably England's best back - had to shift to wing to allow Goode to come on. We expect alterations to those wearing numbers 22 and 23 this weekend, with George Ford and/or Anthony Watson possibly coming in.

Jean-Marc Doussain: France's win wasn't exactly helped by an off-colour performance from their scrum-half. Doussain missed crucial kicks in the first-half that could have stretched France's lead to an even greater gap on the scoreboard, plus produced a clanger of a knock on when on the attack. Given that Maxime Machenaud did well off the bench and Morgan Parra is nearly fit again, he should be sweating over his selection.

Kick-off times - London Irish v Scarlets: For some bizarre reason, London Irish kicked off their LV= Cup match against the Scarlets at 16:00 GMT, not 15:00 GMT like the other three games that day, and consequently meant that fans at the Madejski missed the France-England clash due to an overlap. The match wasn't even on TV, making the scheduling even more confusing. No offence to either club, but fans will always want to watch a Test match over the LV= Cup, so the planning is baffling.

Forthcoming Fixtures
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 18
Harlequins vs LeicesterHarlequins vs Leicester Preview
Saturday , April 19
Exeter vs SaleExeter vs Sale Preview
Bath vs WorcesterBath vs Worcester Preview
Wasps vs GloucesterWasps vs Gloucester Preview
Sunday , April 20
Northampton vs London IrishNorthampton vs London Irish Preview
Newcastle vs SaracensNewcastle vs Saracens Preview
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Friday , April 18
Glasgow vs UlsterGlasgow vs Ulster Preview
Saturday , April 19
Zebre vs EdinburghZebre vs Edinburgh Preview
Connacht vs MunsterConnacht vs Munster Preview
Sunday , April 20
Cardiff Blues vs ScarletsCardiff Blues vs Scarlets Preview
Newport Gwent D'gons vs OspreysNewport Gwent D
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , April 18
Castres vs MontpellierCastres vs Montpellier Preview
Saturday , April 19
Oyonnax vs Toulouse14:55
Perpignan vs Toulon17:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:30
Racing Metro Paris vs Clermont AuvergneRacing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne Preview
Biarritz vs Brive18:30
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles20:35
More Top 14 fixtures
Super Rugby
Saturday , April 19
Chiefs vs CrusadersChiefs vs Crusaders Preview
Waratahs vs BullsWaratahs vs Bulls Preview
Sharks vs CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs Preview
Stormers vs LionsStormers vs Lions Preview
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
All times are local
RaboDirect PRO12
Friday , April 18
Leinster 62 - 7 Benetton TrevisoLeinster vs Benetton Treviso Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Super Rugby
Hurricanes 39 - 20 BluesHurricanes vs Blues Report
Melbourne Rebels 22 - 16 Western Force
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 13
Saracens 28 - 24 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Irish 40 - 12 NewcastleLondon Irish vs Newcastle Report
Saturday , April 12
Worcester 33 - 38 ExeterWorcester vs Exeter Report
Leicester 27 - 15 WaspsLeicester vs Wasps Report
Gloucester 17 - 18 BathGloucester vs Bath Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Benetton Treviso 45 - 27 Newport Gwent D'gonsBenetton Treviso vs Newport Gwent D
Munster 5 - 22 GlasgowMunster vs Glasgow Report
Scarlets 27 - 20 ZebreScarlets vs Zebre Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 20 - 22 ToulonBordeaux-Begles vs Toulon Report
Perpignan 22 - 12 Oyonnax
Toulouse 16 - 9 BriveToulouse vs Brive Report
Racing Metro Paris 37 - 7 Biarritz
Grenoble 30 - 36 Montpellier
Bayonne 24 - 19 Stade Francais
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 22 - 16 Melbourne RebelsChiefs vs Melbourne Rebels Report
Western Force 28 - 16 WaratahsWestern Force vs Waratahs Report
Lions 12 - 25 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Cheetahs 31 - 52 CrusadersCheetahs vs Crusaders Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 11
Sale Sharks 12 - 27 HarlequinsSale Sharks vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Ulster 58 - 12 ConnachtUlster vs Connacht Report
Ospreys 25 - 19 LeinsterOspreys vs Leinster Report
Edinburgh 22 - 29 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership Table
3Leicester Tigers1963