Planet Rugby

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

14th January 2014 09:39

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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 of...zero 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
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 28
Bath vs Harlequins19:45
Saturday , November 29
Leicester Tigers vs Wasps15:00
Exeter vs Saracens16:30
Sunday , November 30
London Irish vs Gloucester13:00
London Welsh vs Northampton14:30
Newcastle Falcons vs Sale Sharks15:15
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International Match
Saturday , November 29
Wales vs South Africa14:30
England vs Australia14:30
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Guinness PRO12
Friday , November 28
Munster vs Ulster19:35
Cardiff Blues vs Treviso19:35
Saturday , November 29
Zebre vs Edinburgh15:00
Leinster vs Ospreys17:15
Connacht vs Scarlets19:30
Sunday , November 30
Glasgow Warriors vs Dragons16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 29
Toulon vs Clermont Auvergne14:45
Oyonnax vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Lyon vs Montpellier18:30
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Castres vs Racing Metro Paris18:30
Toulouse vs Grenoble20:45
Sunday , November 30
Stade Francais vs Brive18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 23
Saracens 24 - 31 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Georgia 35 - 24 JapanGeorgia vs Japan Report
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Guinness PRO12
Treviso 24 - 24 LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Report
Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
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Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 22
London Irish 23 - 33 BathLondon Irish vs Bath Report
Exeter 31 - 15 WaspsExeter vs Wasps Report
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International Match
Italy 6 - 22 South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Report
England 28 - 9 SamoaEngland vs Samoa Report
France 13 - 18 ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Report
Wales 16 - 34 New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Report
Scotland 37 - 12 TongaScotland vs Tonga Report
Ireland 26 - 23 AustraliaIreland vs Australia Report
Romania 18 - 9 CanadaRomania vs Canada Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Report
Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Report
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International Match
Fiji 20 - 14 USAFiji vs USA Report
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Guinness PRO12
Dragons 12 - 38 MunsterDragons vs Munster Report
Ulster 25 - 16 OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton830
2Exeter828
3Bath828
4Saracens825
5Leicester Tigers821