Planet Rugby

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

18th June 2013 13:54

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Hot not june 18 2013

Hot: Japan - Not: USA

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

They're on fire!

Brumbies: Not only did the boys from Canberra inflict defeat upon the British and Irish Lions for the first time on their tour, they also become one of only a handful of teams in the history of the Lions to keep the tourists tryless. They are the first provincial team to beat the Lions since Northern Transvaal in 1997. Before kick-off, Jake White said victory would rank amongst his greatest achievements as a coach. You can bet the lemonades will be flowing in the Aussie capital.

Japan: Say what you will about the strength of that touring Welsh side, but a victory over a top-ten nation will go down as a landmark in the Brave Blossoms' development. It'll also go a long way to building up enthusiasm for the 2019 World Cup. Sugeng!

Lions call-ups: Injuries are starting to take their toll and the depth of the British Isles is starting to be tested. Congratulations to Brad Barritt, Shane Williams, Billy Twelvetrees, Christian Wade and Simon Zebo for their late call ups.

Samoa: If anyone needed reminding of Samoa's rise in the world rugby hierarchy, their dominant wins over Scotland and Italy have underlined their threat to the big guns at the next World Cup. The Springboks have a tough assignment on their hands this weekend.

Alun-Wyn Jones, Fergus McFadden and Siya Kolisi: Jones was the stand-out player of the Lions' win over the Waratahs as the veteran Welsh lock left a trail of bruises all over the park. A sure starter in the first Test against the Wallabies. McFadden scored a hat-trick for Ireland against Canada while Kolisi produced a man-of-the-match performance on his Springbok debut.

Counter-attacking All Blacks: If you missed New Zealand's 30-0 thrashing of France last weekend, do yourself a favour and have a look at the highlights reel, especially the two Kiwi tries scored from deep inside their own half. Test rugby doesn't always have to be about kicking for territory.

England's youngsters: Stuart Lancaster must be feeling pretty content right now. Not only did his fresh-faced team put a half-ton past the Pumas, but the manner in which the youngsters set Velez Sarsfield alight bodes well for the future.

Springboks patience: It could have ended very differently at Mbombela Stadium after Scotland did a very good job of being a nuisance at the breakdown and well...just about everywhere else too. Jean de Villiers did a great job of keeping his troops calm and trusting their structures to get the job done.


Broken Thermostat:

Northern hemisphere referees: Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has been at pains to express his frustration at the current inconsistency of refereeing of the breakdown from one match official to another, especially when it comes to refs crossing the equator. And we totally agree. The game will be much better off if we could somehow get some sort of uniformity with regards to when defenders have rights to the ball and where players are allowed to lie. What Romain Poite allowed the Scots to get away with in Nelspruit would be unimaginable in Super Rugby. But to point a finger at northern hemisphere referees in general as the antidote to exciting rugby is disingenuous. England racked up 51 points in Buenos Aires with Nigel Owens in charge and Alain Rolland didn't seem to hamper the All Blacks from being exciting.


Brrrr....someone turn the heater up

USA: It hasn't been a great fortnight for American rugby. The U20s conceded 251 points in three games at the Junior World Champs, including 16 tries against the Baby Boks and 17 more against England. The Eagles themselves haven't exactly set the example, going down to Canada, Ireland and Tonga in consecutive games.

Springbok tactics: Free-kick to South Africa on the half way line, allowing for a wide range of attacking options. What does Morne Steyn do? He kicks it straight up in the air. It goes a metre or two too far ahead of the chasers, Scotland regain possession. Can you blame the South African public for being frustrated?

Fred Michalak and Pierre Spies: Michalak is undoubtedly a very talented player with a vast array of skills, one of which appears to be the ability to mix the sublime with the mediocre. He can be an outstanding fly-half but we're amongst those we can't quite understand why he was handed the French 10 jersey after playing scrum-half for the majority of the season at Toulon. Despite his best efforts, he was poor against the All Blacks and to make matters worse, he now needs shoulder surgery. In South Africa, the Boks' chief ruck inspector needs to start pulling up his sleeves and getting stuck in in the trenches. He always looks good when the Boks are on the front foot, but part of his job is to create that momentum.

Argentina's scrum: Two penalty tries were embarrassing for the Pumas' pack, who were matched backwards at almost every set piece.

Tuesday's Lions: First loss of the tour. No tries. Momentum ahead of first Test halted. Enough said.

Compiled by Ross Hastie

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