Planet Rugby

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

26th November 2013 10:12

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Hot: NZ ... Not: Those kits

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 on fire!

All Blacks: Things were looking a tad shaky at half-time in Dublin as the Kiwis trailed Ireland 22-7, but they showed exactly why they're the most ruthless team in the world with a sensational last minute try and conversion to complete the first "perfect year" in professional rugby history.

Bath: Bath, under Gary Gold and Mike Ford, have built upon a solid start to the season with a fine run of seven wins from seven fixtures in all competitions. With Semesa Rokoduguni and George Ford racking up the points, could they be contenders for a Premiership semi-final spot come the business end of the year?

Georgia: Georgia caused a big upset at Mikheil Meskhi Stadium as they battled past Samoa 16-15 on Saturday, a team sat 11 places above them in the rankings. The result was some turnaround from last week's 25-23 loss at home to the USA, as the Georgians left nothing in the tank against the islanders. Merab Kvirikashbili was the hero with eleven points on the day as the Tbilisi crowd enjoyed a memorable triumph, bouncing back from losing to USA.

Nigel Owens: Two international games stand out this year and both were refereed by Owens. A coincidence? We don't think so as the Welsh official let both the South Africa v New Zealand and Ireland v New Zealand matches flow to a point that blotted out some of the tiresome rubbish that other games had produced on terrible pitches. Owens has the respect of players because he is clear with instructions and not pedantic when it comes to the set-piece. Two excellent displays of officiating that allowed those teams to flourish.

Jacques Burger: The Saracens flanker smashed the Premiership record for tackles in a single game on Saturday by making 36 hits against Exeter Chiefs, according to the club's statistics, bettering the previous record of 27 held by Lewis Moody. The Namibian hardman also hit 17 rucks and made eight carries at Sandy Park. An incredible performance.

Fiji: Fiji ended Romania's unbeaten run in 2013 on Saturday with a 26-7 victory at Stadionul National Arcul de Triumf in Bucharest. Tries came via Metuisela Talebula, Nemani Nadolo and Timoci Nagusa as the islanders ended their year with a memorable win. Keep an eye on Nadolo for the Crusaders in the upcoming Super Rugby term as the centre or wing has already been compared to Jonah Lomu by head coach Todd Blackadder. Roll on February.

Southern hemisphere tourists: For the third week in a row, the SANZAR giants got the job done. And this time Argentina joined the party to make it 4/0 for Rugby Championship sides.


Broken thermo

Ireland: Argument for hot: The closest anyone has come to beating the All Blacks this year. Argument for not: Blew a 19-point lead and let slip the chance to claim the biggest scalp in world rugby and end a 109-year losing run. It may take time for Ireland to get over that loss.


Get these guys a cup of warm soup!

France: 2013 has been an annus horribilis for Les Bleus who finished the year with only two wins from eleven Tests played. Those victories - against Scotland and Tonga - were hardly impressive and Philippe Saint-André must be feeling the heat. They will have to show considerable improvement in the upcoming Six Nations or he could finish without a job.

Italy: The Azzurri have regressed since completing their most successful Six Nations since joining the tournament in 2000. They finished their campaign during the November Tests with a defeat to an under-strength Argentina side in Rome at the weekend. And in their other encounters they hardly impressed, in an ill-tempered victory over Fiji in Cremona and were thrashed by Australia in Turin. Coach Jacques Brunel will have to go back to the drawing board before the start of the Six Nations.

Millennium Stadium, Stade de France and Murrayfield: You know the drill by now...

Unnecessary 'alternative' kits: Obviously, it is necessary for teams to have a second strip when kits clash. And yes, we understand the commercial need for team to occasionally play in alternative jersey. But having BOTH teams play in changed strips, as was the case for Wales v Tonga when neither team in traditional red...well that's just odd.

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , October 3
Bath vs Saracens19:45
Saturday , October 4
London Irish vs Northampton15:00
Harlequins vs London Welsh15:00
Gloucester vs Leicester15:15
Sunday , October 5
Sale vs Wasps14:00
Newcastle vs Exeter15:00
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Rugby Championship
Saturday , October 4
South Africa vs New Zealand16:05
Argentina vs Australia23:40
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Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 3
Connacht vs Cardiff Blues19:35
Ulster vs Edinburgh19:35
Zebre vs Ospreys19:35
Saturday , October 4
Leinster vs Munster18:30
Sunday , October 5
Benetton Treviso vs Glasgow14:00
Scarlets vs Newport Gwent D'gons16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , October 3
Oyonnax vs Toulon20:45
Saturday , October 4
Bordeaux-Begles vs Clermont Auvergne14:45
Racing Metro Paris vs Brive18:30
Bayonne vs Montpellier18:30
La Rochelle vs Lyon18:30
Castres vs Grenoble18:30
Toulouse vs Stade Francais20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , October 3
Pumas vs Blue Bulls15:00
Sharks vs Lions19:10
Saturday , October 4
Cheetahs vs Western Province14:00
Griquas vs Eastern Province Kings15:00
More Currie Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 28
Wasps 35 - 18 NewcastleWasps vs Newcastle Report
Exeter 36 - 13 HarlequinsExeter vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Newport Gwent D'gons 33 - 15 Benetton TrevisoNewport Gwent D
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ITM Cup
Tasman 32 - 24 OtagoTasman vs Otago Report
Canterbury 26 - 28 SouthlandCanterbury vs Southland Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 27
Leicester 19 - 22 London IrishLeicester vs London Irish Report
Saracens 40 - 19 Sale SharksSaracens vs Sale Sharks Report
Northampton 31 - 24 BathNorthampton vs Bath Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
South Africa 28 - 10 AustraliaSouth Africa vs Australia Report
Argentina 13 - 34 New ZealandArgentina vs New Zealand Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Zebre 13 - 6 UlsterZebre vs Ulster Report
Munster 14 - 19 OspreysMunster vs Ospreys Report
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Top 14
Toulon 40 - 17 MontpellierToulon vs Montpellier Report
Grenoble 27 - 25 Racing Metro ParisGrenoble vs Racing Metro Paris Report
Brive 34 - 24 Bordeaux-Begles
Oyonnax 8 - 19 Clermont Auvergne
Stade Francais 43 - 10 La Rochelle
Lyon 28 - 18 Castres
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Sharks 53 - 24 Eastern Province KingsSharks vs Eastern Province Kings Report
Griquas 8 - 46 LionsGriquas vs Lions Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Waikato 20 - 22 ManawatuWaikato vs Manawatu Report
North Harbour 28 - 25 Hawkes Bay
Counties Manukau 55 - 7 WellingtonCounties Manukau vs Wellington Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 26
London Welsh 10 - 46 GloucesterLondon Welsh vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Leinster 37 - 23 Cardiff BluesLeinster vs Cardiff Blues Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens418
2Northampton416
3Bath415
4Exeter414
5Wasps411