Planet Rugby

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

14th May 2013 13:22

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Hot or not May 14 2013

Hot: Yannick Jauzion - Not so much: Owen Farrell

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

They're on fire!

Yannick Jauzion: The 'end of an era' is a popular theme in the French press these days after Toulouse finished the Top 14 regular season 11 points behind Toulon and Clermont. But the naysayers might need reminding that les Rouge et Noir are still on course for a third straight title after qualifying for their 20th consecutive semi-final. There is certainly a changing of the guard going on in the Ville Rose, as underlined by the standing ovation given to one of the club's favourite sons before his last game at Ernest Wallon, after eleven years in the Toulousain midfield. A few days later at the Stadium de Toulouse, Jauzion showed he's still a class act by brilliantly creating a try for his heir apparent, 19-year-old GaŽl Fickou, in the play-off win over Racing Metro.

Northampton and Leinster: Not many people gave Saints much of a hope in their Premiership semi-final but their odds for the final would have been slashed drastically after their dominant display against Sarries. Also, who is brave enough to bet against Leinster in a PRO12 final at the RDS?

New Zealand Sevens: Six weeks before the RWC Sevens in Moscow, the Kiwis capped a fine season in style by winning the final round of the World Series in London. In nine rounds, they never finished worse than third as they marched to their 11th title, finishing a whopping 41 points ahead of second-placed South Africa. Such consistent domination has become a rare sight at the top level of any sport.

London Sevens Day One Crowd: 71,898 = a new world record and a welcome improvement on the poor turnout in Glasgow a week before. And almost everyone was fancy-dressed for the occasion!

Luke Watson: We didn't hold back when Watson made a below-par return to the Kings starting side a few weeks ago, but credit were credit is due: The skipper was fantastic against the Highlanders and deserved his two tries.

Antonie Claassen: The Castres loose forward was omnipresent in his team's Top 14 play-off victory over Montpellier, scoring the only try of the game and winning his much-anticipated duel with opposite number Alex Tulou. The South African is a sure bet to add to his caps for France in New Zealand this June.

Leicester Tigers: A Premiership Final without Tigers would be like fish without chips. Leicester produced a clinical second-half display against Quins to blow the defending champs away and reach a ninth consecutive showdown at Twickenham.

Frank Halai: A hat-trick against the Rebels and an All Blacks call-up in the space of four days, the 25-year-old must be walking on air.


Broken Thermostat:

Kurtley Beale: We were ready to crown the Rebels playmaker as the King of Stupid Land when we heard he'd tried to sidestep his drinking ban by having a few sneaky beers... in a stadium full of witnesses. But we'll reserve judgement - for now - since the 24-year-old seems to have accepted that he has a problem and has booked himself into a programme to get on the wagon. He isn't the first young man to fall foul of the trappings of fame and money but if he doesn't have the character to walk the straight and narrow, then he has no place at the top of the sport. We hope to see him return a wiser man.


Bbbrrr....someone turn the heater up!

The Stormers: If you needed an illustration with what's wrong in the Stormers' camp, look no further than the post-match comments from their head coach after last year's SA conference winners failed to score a try in their defeat to the Waratahs. "It was a typical Test-match out there, it was a hard-fought dog-fight... We knew we had to slog it out, but, once again, I think we beat ourselves," said Allister Coetzee. Er? Test match? No Allister, you weren't playing the Wallabies, you were playing a Super Rugby franchise that has spent most of the season in the bottom half of the standings. But you are right about beating yourselves. When you expect to "slog it out," that's usually what happens. When the Cheetahs took a positive attitude to Sydney, they scored three tries and went home with four points. Food for thought.

Saracens: There will be no silverware for Sarries this term after their second semi-final defeat in as many weeks. Unbeaten at Allianz Park going into their semi-final against Saints, the league table toppers looked shellshocked as they found themselves 17-0 down at the break. Owen Farrell didn't do a whole lot right.

Ulster: After finishing top of the PRO12 standings, Ulster nominated the RDS as their "home" venue for the final because the two-year redevelopment of Ravenhill means their home does not meet the 18,000 minimum capacity required to host the final. Of course, Leinster aren't complaining. At least Ulster fans will be entitled to 50 per cent of the tickets in Dublin.

Highlanders: Ten starts. Nine losses. Not great.

Keegan Daniel: The Sharks loose forward has been a disappointment both as a captain and a player this season and is growing a reputation as being a bit of a glory boy. If reports in the Afrikaans tabloid press that he thinks there are "too many Afrikaners involved in Sharks rugby" are to be believed, then there is little wonder he "feels isolated" by the "cliques" in the squad.

PAU vs La Rochelle brawls: In case you missed it in Loose Pass on Monday, have a look at this mess. There is no place for that kind of thing in professional sport.

Compiled by Ross Hastie

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