Planet Rugby

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

14th January 2014 09:39


Hot or not jan 14 2014

Smokin': Toulouse - You're jokin': Newcastle

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!

Toulouse: The four-time champions produced their best performance of the season to comprehensively outplay Saracens on Sunday. The Premiership leaders have lost just three times in 17 starts this season, with two of those defeats now coming at the hands of les rouge et noir. Toulouse have blown hot and cold on the domestic front this term but Guy Novès and his team have a special affinity for European competition. Led by a sublime back-row trio, Toulouse were outstanding.

Clermont, Toulon, Munster, Leinster: Pool winners with a round to go, Europe's heavyweights have come to the fore once again. With Toulouse and Ulster also through, six of the eight quarter-finalists will come from Ireland and France.

Connacht: Still in with a shout - albeit strictly mathematical - of making the Heineken Cup quarters, Pat Lam's team have punched above their weight this campaign. Can they upset Saracens this weekend? It's highly unlikely but it won't stop them from having a go...

Paul O'Connell: It's normal for a coach to sing his own players' praises but when the opposition does the same, it's worth noting. After watching POC put in yet another vintage performance against Gloucester on Saturday, one had to agree with home head coach Nigel Davies' assessment - "phenomenal".

Rémi Lamerat: What a performance that was from the 24-year-old centre. Playing against Ireland veterans Gordon D'Arcy and Brian O'Driscoll, the Castres number twelve was superb throughout. His fend was lethal at times as the former Toulouse man beat nine defenders, made three offloads and accrued over 50 metres with ball in hand. Philippe Saint-André is surely keeping an eye on Lamerat as a possible back-up to Wesley Fofana.

Broken thermostat:

Ulster: Yes, they are through to the quarter-finals but missing the bonus point against a below-strength Montpellier side might come back to haunt the boys from Belfast. No time for regrets though, a massive clash at Welford Road awaits.

Victor Matfield: The former Bok lock's return to the playing field now seems a certainty with just a few administrative formalities to be settled before it is confirmed. The 36-year-old Bulls coach is set to be used sparingly during Super Rugby in a bid to keep him fresh for the national side and an assault on the 2015 World Cup. No one doubts Matfield's class, but is a comeback a good idea after two years on the sidelines?

The Caveman: Using your reputation to make some extra cash = hot. Fairy wings? Not so much...

Get these guys a cup of warm soup!

Italian Heineken Cup teams: After ten games, Italy's representatives have scored a grand total points in their respective pools. A combined tally of 62 points were amassed by the Italian duo, which makes it a group campaign to forget for both teams. Let us hope Treviso and Zebre can finish strongly this weekend against Montpellier and Toulouse respectively to bring a slice of respect to their European offerings.

Amlin Challenge Cup: Yet again the credibility of this competition comes into question after the latest round of action. London Irish won 79-3 against Lusitanos XV on Saturday while Mogliano were hammered by Bordeaux-Begles on Thursday. On that same day, Newcastle Falcons and Brive played out a shocking game of rugby that was devoid of basic skills. Of course we all applaud allowing nations outside the northern six platforms such as this but when margins of defeat aren't decreasing, and only 3,027 turn out to watch a dour Sale versus Worcester clash, what are we getting?

Ospreys: So often the bridesmaids of Europe, the Ospreys have again missed the quarter-final boat, with their last appearance coming back in 2009/10. Much - we think too much - was made of the 'Lions-filled' pack they had at their disposal - and having been grouped alongside French champions Castres, PRO12 holders Leinster and last year's Premiership finalists Northampton, it was always going to be hard. Ultimately they look set to finish bottom of Pool 1 as a trip to Leinster awaits them in Round 6. Next season their squad is missing Richard Hibbard and maybe more.

Fiji Rugby Union: Not the best week for Fiji as their head coach Ben Ryan told Fiji's One News that he had not been paid "a penny" of his salary since taking the job and was living off his savings. Then came the IRB's decision that it was to suspend all direct financial support to the FRU with immediate effect until the Union adopts key financial reporting, administration and governance reforms. Fiji have since pledged to get back on side with the IRB in four months, saying that the financial issues "were inherited" by the previous board.

Racing Métro: The woes continue for this star-studded group after a defeat at home to the Scarlets saw them fall to the bottom of Pool 4. It had all started so brightly for the hosts when Mike Phillips, playing alongside Jonathan Sexton, crossed for a 10-6 half-time scoreline, but back came the Welsh region for a memorable 19-13 win. Racing must go to Clermont this week and one suspects they will put out a weakened team.

Forthcoming Fixtures
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 18
Harlequins vs LeicesterHarlequins vs Leicester Preview
Saturday , April 19
Exeter vs Sale15:00
Bath vs Worcester15:00
Wasps vs Gloucester15:15
Sunday , April 20
Northampton vs London Irish14:00
Newcastle vs Saracens15:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Friday , April 18
Leinster vs Benetton TrevisoLeinster vs Benetton Treviso Preview
Glasgow vs UlsterGlasgow vs Ulster Preview
Saturday , April 19
Zebre vs Edinburgh14:30
Connacht vs Munster18:15
Sunday , April 20
Cardiff Blues vs Scarlets14:00
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Ospreys16:45
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , April 18
Castres vs MontpellierCastres vs Montpellier Preview
Saturday , April 19
Oyonnax vs Toulouse14:55
Perpignan vs Toulon17:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:30
Biarritz vs Brive18:30
Racing Metro Paris vs Clermont AuvergneRacing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne Preview
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles20:35
More Top 14 fixtures
Super Rugby
Friday , April 18
Hurricanes vs BluesHurricanes vs Blues Preview
Melbourne Rebels vs Western Force19:40
Saturday , April 19
Chiefs vs Crusaders19:35
Waratahs vs Bulls19:00
Sharks vs Cheetahs15:00
Stormers vs Lions17:05
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 13
Saracens 28 - 24 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Irish 40 - 12 NewcastleLondon Irish vs Newcastle Report
Saturday , April 12
Worcester 33 - 38 ExeterWorcester vs Exeter Report
Leicester 27 - 15 WaspsLeicester vs Wasps Report
Gloucester 17 - 18 BathGloucester vs Bath Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Benetton Treviso 45 - 27 Newport Gwent D'gonsBenetton Treviso vs Newport Gwent D
Scarlets 27 - 20 ZebreScarlets vs Zebre Report
Munster 5 - 22 GlasgowMunster vs Glasgow Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 20 - 22 ToulonBordeaux-Begles vs Toulon Report
Toulouse 16 - 9 BriveToulouse vs Brive Report
Grenoble 30 - 36 Montpellier
Perpignan 22 - 12 Oyonnax
Bayonne 24 - 19 Stade Francais
Racing Metro Paris 37 - 7 Biarritz
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 22 - 16 Melbourne RebelsChiefs vs Melbourne Rebels Report
Western Force 28 - 16 WaratahsWestern Force vs Waratahs Report
Lions 12 - 25 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Cheetahs 31 - 52 CrusadersCheetahs vs Crusaders Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 11
Sale Sharks 12 - 27 HarlequinsSale Sharks vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Ulster 58 - 12 ConnachtUlster vs Connacht Report
Edinburgh 22 - 29 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
Ospreys 25 - 19 LeinsterOspreys vs Leinster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Clermont Auvergne 23 - 11 CastresClermont Auvergne vs Castres Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Highlanders 27 - 20 BullsHighlanders vs Bulls Report
Reds 20 - 23 BrumbiesReds vs Brumbies Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership Table
3Leicester Tigers1963