Planet Rugby

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

15th October 2013 10:59

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scarlets blue bulls hot not

Contrast: Scarlets and Blue Bulls

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 smokin'!

Heineken Cup: Tries, tries and more tries in the opening round of this year's competition reminded us why we all love it so much. An impressive 52 tries were scored in Round 1 of this year's competition, with Exeter, Cardiff Blues, Toulon and Glasgow serving up 20 between the four of them in about five hours on Sunday.

Scarlets: In a Pool alongside Harlequins, Clermont and Racing, few would have given the Scarlets a hope. But they capitalised against an out of form Quins side last Saturday to pick up a valuable away win and score three spectacular tries in the process. Danny Care is still jolting from Scott Williams' audacious dummy.

Edinburgh: No chance for the Scottish side against Munster surely. Surely?! Form though is a fickle beast in the Heineken Cup and Edinburgh proved exactly why; defeating the two-time champions 29-26 at Murrayfield despite sitting bottom of the RaboDirect Pro12. Maybe the tide is now turning.

Matt Giteau: Giteau started ahead of Jonny Wilkinson against Clermont two weeks ago at fly-half, and is the Top 14's second-highest try scorer with five. He added another two after moving into the ten channel against Glasgow. Boy, do Australia really miss his talent.

James Hook: A full-house for the exiled Welshman against Gloucester at Kingsholm. Hook's try in the first minute set Perpignan off to the perfect start away from home but they sadly couldn't make it last, despite Hook racking up 22 points.

Duane Vermeulen: 2013 is Vermeulen's year. If only Kieran Read hadn't kept operating on the level of a demi-god then the South African would have certainly made our team of The Rugby Championship. Was he tired after his exploits with the Springboks? Certainly not, as Vermeulen made countless key turnovers against the Sharks to keep Province unbeaten.

New Zealand Sevens: Business as usual for Sir Gordon Tietjens as New Zealand got their title defence off to the perfect start with a win on the Gold Coast. Australia and England pushed them at times, but never enough to cause major concern. Before the semi-final they hadn't conceded a single point, defeating Samoa 40-0 in the quarter-final. Gulp.


Broken thermostat:

Sonny Bill Williams: Rugby fans (and we mean the XV-man version) are growing tired of seeing headlines about SBW's contract dealings. He's not a popular guy in many quarters in New Zealand having turned down a return to the Chiefs with wild accusations of "money grabbing" and "attention seeking" common place. But hang on, has the guy committed a crime here? In any other profession driving a hard-bargain is applauded, even expected. Why should sportsmen be any different? If the deal wasn't what he wanted, why should he return to the Chiefs in 2014? Just because media reports said he would? If he has the talent to pick and choose which title he'd like to win next, who are we to dictate which direction he takes. His U-turn on being available for the Kiwi RLWC side wasn't the work of a genius, but it's hardly like he killed someone. Deep down, the truth is most New Zealanders just want to see him back in black as soon as possible and until he reneges on a contract, does something stupid while drunk, or starts playing dirty, it's probably fair to stop the mudslinging.

Exeter and Toulon: For a good portion of their two matches on Sunday, Exeter Chiefs and RC Toulon were the hottest team on the planet. Exeter at one point lead 41-3. Toulon lead 34-0. Then, by varying circumstances including yellow cards, injuries, or simply not believing their good fortune - they conceded eight tries and 55 points between them. Given how incredible both teams played in the first halves of their respective matches, it seems mad for them not to be Hot. Yet, here they are.


Get these guys a cup of warm soup!

Harlequins: Champions of England a mere 17 months ago, Quins appear to have lost their aura. A severe injury toll in their second row and midfield have hampered operations, but too many key players whilst still giving their all are out of form. Just two wins from six in all competitions so far this season. No wonder Conor O'Shea was "angry and angry."

Blue Bulls: No Currie Cup semi-final this year for the Bulls, as their loss to the Cheetahs and the Lions earlier victory over Griquas stopped them in 5th place. How the Bulls fare in Super Rugby next season will be interesting, given the high number of talented exports from their squad, but the young group will have gained huge experience from this year's Currie Cup. It just meant that they finished 20 points behind top team Western Province.

Blitzbokke: They might have been exhausted after going to extra-time against Australia, but losing 47-0 to England in the third place playoff was a real low note for the South African sevens side.

Newcastle Falcons: Winning teams very, very rarely find themselves in the Not section, but the Falcons have earned their spot. Only Tom Catterick's 76th-minute penalty stopped them from losing to Romanian outfit Bucharest Wolves in the Amlin Challenge Cup. Even though the Premiership side made several changes, they can have few excuses.

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