Planet Rugby

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

14th July 2014 10:01

Share:

Waratahs Cheetahs hot or not feature

Hot! Waratahs. Not? Cheetahs

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!

Waratahs: Impressive once again, this time with a big win in Brisbane, the 'Tahs must be considered the outstanding favourites for the Super Rugby title. Yet another full haul of points means the Michael Cheika's team finish the regular season seven clear of the Crusaders at the top of the standings having secured no less than nine try-scoring bonus points in 16 games. Spectacular.

Crusaders: Having come in for a lot of criticism is the early part of the season, Todd Blackadder's troops have been on an upward curve ever since their successful tour of South Africa jump-started their campaign. With nine wins from their last eleven games, a weekend off coming up and Richie McCaw returning for a home semi-final in Christchurch, the seven-time champs look on course for their eleventh final.

Sharks: We've been vocal critics of the Sharks' no-frills approach but credit where credit is due. Jake White's team have the best defensive record in Super Rugby in 2014, conceding just 22 tries all year. Having inflicted the Stormers' heaviest defeat at Newlands in seven years over the weekend, they take plenty of momentum into the play-offs.

Chiefs: The defending champs are still alive! They become the first team to win at Eden Park this year to sneak into the play-off via the back door. They're famous for their counter-attacking, but let's not forget that the Chiefs have the best tackling stats of any team in the competition this year.

Lions: Hands up if you didn't write the season the Lions off before the start of the season...Kudos to Johan Ackermann and his troops for defying the odds in their best-ever season, which saw them finish above the 2011 champions and just one point behind the Stormers. Scoring 60 points at Ellis Park on the last day should help boost attendance number next year.

Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau and Bernard Foley: No wonder the 'Tahs have had a phenomenal season. These three dominate the attacking stats for the regular season. Beale and Foley were first and second for most carries with the fly-half also scoring the most points. Folau scored the most tries, made the most clean breaks and the most offloads.

Malakai Fekitoa and Ben Smith: Fekitoa is the find of the year, surely. The Highlanders youngster topped the charts for defenders beaten this term. A whopping 61 tacklers failed to stop the 22-year-old. A megastar of future. Meanwhile, his skipper made more metres with ball in hand than any other player, no less than 1182!

Stephan Lewies: In his debut Super Rugby season, the new Springbok was the competition's top line-out catcher with 77 clean takes. Only Victor Matfield even came close.

Matt Hodgson: The season's top tackler with 234 hits, the Force loose forward worked his tail off.


Broken Thermostat

Super Rugby Play-offs: It was with a hint of irony that Sharks boss Jake White questioned the logic behind the play-offs after Saturday's win in Cape Town.

"If we have a situation where the top two team consistently play each other in the final we have to look if we should just scrap the play-offs," he said.

"[Home field advantage and the travel involved in the play-offs] mean the teams coming first or second have a 90 percent chance of winning the competition, so why play these matches at all?

"From the point of view of player welfare, preparation for Test matches, the cost...all those things must come into account. If one plays two every year anyway, then we're wasting everybody's time."


Get these guys a warm cup of soup!

SA Conference: It's been a very poor year for South African sides in general with only one out of five franchises finishing in the top half of the overall standings. Super Rugby is designed to reward positive endeavour via the bonus-point system. SA teams produced just 12 try bonus points in 2014 compared to 26 in the Kiwi Conference and 21 in Australia. Time for a change in mentality?

Reds: The biggest disappointment of the year? The Queenslanders finished third-last, a massive 30 points beyond their rivals from New South Wales. The 2011 champions looked stale and suffered horribly in Quade Cooper's injury-enforced absence. Time for some fresh faces and fresh ideas.

Bulls: The stats paint a dire picture: The men from Pretoria are at the bottom of the charts in terms of tries scored, clean breaks, metres gained, defenders beaten, offloads and ruck success. Enough said.

Cheetahs: How things can change in a year. After coming breathtakingly close to the semi-finals last year, the Cheetahs finished their 2014 campaign with whimper in Jo'burg, a result which condemned them to last in the SA Conference. Always sure to entertain, it was the age-old problem of a fragile defence that came back to haunt Naka Drotske's team as they conceded an average of 33 points per game. 11 yellow cards didn't help. Ouch.

Rebels: Stone last - for the second time in four years - with the worst points difference in Super Rugby. Does Australia have the depth to field five competitive franchises?

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster vs Saracens19:45
Saturday , October 25
Ulster vs Toulon13:00
Scarlets vs Leicester19:45
Bath vs Toulouse15:15
Montpellier vs Glasgow17:15
Northampton vs Ospreys17:15
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne vs Sale15:15
Castres vs Leinster14:00
Wasps vs Harlequins17:15
Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 9217:15
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles19:45
Friday , October 24
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Grenoble vs London Irish18:30
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Newcastle19:30
Brive vs Zebre19:30
Edinburgh vs LOU Rugby19:45
Saturday , October 25
Bucuresti vs Stade FrancaisTBC
Rovigo vs Cardiff Blues14:00
Exeter vs Connacht15:00
Oyonnax vs Gloucester19:45
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Toulon 28 - 18 ScarletsToulon vs Scarlets Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
London Irish 70 - 14 RovigoLondon Irish vs Rovigo Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
International Match
Saturday , October 18
Australia 28 - 29 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
More International Match results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sale Sharks 26 - 27 MunsterSale Sharks vs Munster Report
Saracens 30 - 23 Clermont AuvergneSaracens vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Racing Metro 92 20 - 11 NorthamptonRacing Metro 92 vs Northampton Report
Glasgow 37 - 10 BathGlasgow vs Bath Report
Leicester 25 - 18 UlsterLeicester vs Ulster Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
LOU Rugby 28 - 18 London WelshLOU Rugby vs London Welsh Report
Zebre 24 - 33 Oyonnax
Cardiff Blues 37 - 14 Grenoble
Stade Francais 22 - 38 Newport Gwent D'gons
Bayonne 30 - 24 Exeter
Connacht 48 - 12 La Rochelle
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Currie Cup
Lions 50 - 20 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Western Province 31 - 23 Blue BullsWestern Province vs Blue Bulls Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Taranaki 49 - 30 AucklandTaranaki vs Auckland Report
Manawatu 23 - 18 Southland
Tasman 26 - 6 CanterburyTasman vs Canterbury Report
More ITM Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 17
Harlequins 25 - 9 CastresHarlequins vs Castres Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Bordeaux-Begles 13 - 15 EdinburghBordeaux-Begles vs Edinburgh Report
Newcastle 43 - 19 Bucuresti
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615