Planet Rugby

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

01st May 2013 15:34

Share:

Hot or not May 1 2013

Hot: Captain Sam - Not so much: Western Force

It's time for our weekly wrap up of who has their name in lights at the moment...and who is making headlines for the wrong reasons.

They're on fire!

Sam Warburton: At 24, Warren Gatland's chosen skipper is the youngest Lions captain for more than 50 years. It's a far cry from being left on the bench in Rome by Rob Howley earlier this year. Wales have 15 representatives in the squad, the most since 1977 - the same year the Lions were last led by a Welshman.

Joe Schmidt: In any other week, Schmidt's appointment as the new head coach of Ireland would have dominated headlines for days. But being overshadowed by the Lions squad announcement takes nothing away from the magnitude of the task facing Ireland's first (permanent) foreign head coach since...a certain Warren Gatland.

Bryan Habana and the Stormers: Wallowing in eleventh place before their first game on tour, last year's Super Rugby table-toppers had their backs against the wall in Wellington as they faced the in-form Hurricanes. But Habana's conversion-stopping charge down on the stroke of half-time proved to be pivotal as the Stormers went on to win - by two points - and stay in the hunt for the play-offs.

Leicester and Leinster: With six Lions each, the Tigers and Leinster are the biggest contributors to the squad heading Down Under.

French clubs in Europe: With five out of the eight semi-finalists and three out of four finalists in Europe's two competitions, French clubs are putting their hefty budgets to good use. As a result, there will be seven French teams in the Heineken Cup next season.

Brumbies: Back on top in the Super Rugby standings after demolishing the Force, the side from the Aussie capital look like the team to beat. They're set to provide a few Wallabies for June too.

Lucky Lions: The Lions selectors have admitted there was some "robust debate" over a number of places in the squad. The likes of Dan Lydiate, Mako Vunipola, Conor Murray, Ian Evans, Stuart Hogg, Richie Gray and Tom Croft are the beneficiaries of those discussions.

Willie Le Roux: It seems the Cheetahs flyer is a wanted man after his impressive performances this year. It's unlikely that Griquas will have pockets deep enough to keep him. Where will he go?

Napolioni Nalaga: The top try-scorer in both the Top 14 and the Heineken Cup crossed the whitewash again as Clermont rumbled into the European Cup final. The only man who could possibly overtake the Fijian flyer in the charts of either competition is team-mate Wesley Fofana.


Broken Thermostat:

Controversial Lions: You can't please everyone all the time but a few Lions selections have really caused a stir. Dylan Hartley tops the list and the Kiwi-born hooker shouldn't expect any Christmas cards from Belfast this year. Sean Maitland probably won't be going on holiday to Edinburgh (nor Holland) either. He's more likely to visit Hamilton Boys' High School along with fellow Old Boy...Warren Gatland. Matt Stevens, who missed the last Lions tour after testing positive for cocaine, retired from international rugby last year. Let the debate begin...


Bbbrrr....someone turn the heater up!

Lions absentees: Left out in the cold by the Lions selectors, we'd understand if Rory Best, Tim Visser, Kelly Brown, Greg Laidlaw and Danny Care were a bit grumpy in June.

Old Lions: Players on the 2009 Lions tour that were available but didn't get selected in 2013 - Ross Ford, Matthew Rees, Euan Murray, Andrew Sheridan, Nathan Hines, Donncha O'Callaghan, Simon Shaw, Stephen Ferris, Ryan Jones, Andy Powell, James Hook, Ronan O'Gara, Gordon D'Arcy, Keith Earls, Luke Fitzgerald, Ugo Monye and Lee Byrne.

Jason Woodward: The Rebels were on the verge of causing a massive upset in Christchurch on Sunday until Woodward's touch-finder from a penalty rolled over the Crusaders deadball line. It was a howler that ruined an otherwise solid performance. From that moment, it was all downhill for the Rebels as a penalty from the ensuing scrum gave the lead back to the hosts in the dying minutes.

Western Force: The team from Perth are conceding an average of almost 25 points per game. On the wrong end of a six-try drubbing at the hoofs of the Brumbies last weekend, they remain rooted to the bottom of the Aussie conference.

Crusaders: Yes, they may have banked a narrow win, but the seven-time Super Rugby champs are playing well below the standard to which we've become accustomed. With a visit to Canberra and then a string of tough Kiwi derbies on the horizon, the bookies' pre-tournament favourites could struggle to make the play-offs.

Compiled by Ross Hastie

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Top 14
Friday , August 29
Clermont Auvergne vs MontpellierClermont Auvergne vs Montpellier Preview
Saturday , August 30
La Rochelle vs Toulouse14:45
Castres vs Bayonne18:30
Lyon vs Brive18:30
Oyonnax vs Stade Francais18:30
Grenoble vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulon20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , August 29
Pumas vs SharksPumas vs Sharks Preview
Saturday , August 30
Griquas vs Cheetahs15:00
Blue Bulls vs Western Province17:05
Eastern Province Kings vs Lions19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Friday , August 29
Wellington vs ManawatuWellington vs Manawatu Preview
Saturday , August 30
Counties Manukau vs Hawkes Bay14:35
Southland vs Otago17:35
North Harbour vs Waikato19:35
Sunday , August 31
Taranaki vs Bay Of Plenty14:35
Auckland vs Tasman16:35
Wednesday, September 3
Manawatu vs Bay Of Plenty19:35
Thursday , September 4
Otago vs Canterbury19:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Thursday , August 28
Canterbury 48 - 3 NorthlandCanterbury vs Northland Report
Wednesday, August 27
Waikato 17 - 46 TaranakiWaikato vs Taranaki Report
Sunday , August 24
Manawatu 7 - 35 AucklandManawatu vs Auckland Report
Bay Of Plenty 27 - 56 TasmanBay Of Plenty vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 23
New Zealand 51 - 20 AustraliaNew Zealand vs Australia Report
Argentina 31 - 33 South AfricaArgentina vs South Africa Report
More Rugby Championship results
Top 14
Brive 6 - 21 Clermont AuvergneBrive vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 38 - 12 Oyonnax
Bordeaux-Begles 30 - 21 Racing Metro Paris
Stade Francais 23 - 20 Lyon
Toulon 60 - 19 La Rochelle
Montpellier 20 - 17 GrenobleMontpellier vs Grenoble Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Blue Bulls 30 - 25 Eastern Province KingsBlue Bulls vs Eastern Province Kings Report
Western Province 27 - 14 LionsWestern Province vs Lions Report
Sharks 19 - 16 CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Northland 35 - 5 WellingtonNorthland vs Wellington Report
Counties Manukau 29 - 25 OtagoCounties Manukau vs Otago Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Friday , August 22
Toulouse 35 - 6 CastresToulouse vs Castres Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Pumas 33 - 15 GriquasPumas vs Griquas Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Waikato 27 - 58 CanterburyWaikato vs Canterbury Report
Hawkes Bay 29 - 26 TaranakiHawkes Bay vs Taranaki Report
Thursday , August 21
North Harbour 21 - 25 Southland
Sunday , August 17
Tasman 35 - 15 Hawkes BayTasman vs Hawkes Bay Report
Northland 23 - 28 Manawatu
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 16
Australia 12 - 12 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
More Rugby Championship results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00