Planet Rugby

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

24th March 2014 08:34

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Hot or not 24 march

Raising the bar: Saracens - Dropping a division: Biarritz

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!

Force and Lions: The underdogs are dishing out humble pie to all those (including us!) who didn't think they had much hope at the start of the Super Rugby season. The Lions - incredibly - sit in fourth position while the Force have won three in a row thanks to Saturday's upset of the defending champions. It's a funny old game.

Sacarens: Their victory over Harlequins took them to the top of the Aviva Premiership table but the club also deserves credit for taking Saturday's game to Wembley where they drew a word record crowd of 83,889 spectators. What a boost these numbers for England ahead of a Rugby World Cup year.

Sale Sharks: Sale have come a long way since battling to avoid survival last year. They're now a team to be reckoned with, as Northampton found out on Saturday. The Saints, who arrived in Salford top of the table with only one loss to their name, were well beaten by the Sharks, who won 19-6 as tries from Mark Cueto, Marc Jones and Tom Brady saw off a XV that included Tom Wood, George North, Luther Burrell and Dylan Hartley.

Fiji Sevens: They claimed their second IRB Sevens Series title of the season when they won the Tokyo leg of the season at the weekend. It was no mean feat from the Pacific islanders, who edged the Series' two leading outfits - New Zealand and South Africa - in their semi-final and final matches respectively. What a final it was too as with the scores at 26-26 and no time left, Fiji went over for a great match-winning try.

Toulouse: What an incredible comeback. From 27-5 after half an hour, Toulouse recovered to claim a 27-all draw against Stade Franšais in Paris on Saturday. Toulouse are looking in much better form of late as in their outing before the Paris trip they smashed Perpignan 37-9. This, remember, is all building up to what promises to be an epic tussle with Munster in their Heineken Cup quarter-final on Saturday, April 5.

Bulls: It wasn't pretty, but the men from Pretoria became the first team to beat the Sharks this season on Saturday, taking revenge for the defeat in Durban earlier this year. They did it without their captain Flip van der Merwe, winning 23-19 as flanker Jacques du Plessis and centre JJ Engelbrecht scored their two tries at Loftus Versfeld, as they stay in touch with their visitors in the South African Conference.

Israel Folau: The Wallaby full-back's dream run in the Super Rugby continues after he scored two tries in the Waratahs' victory over the Rebels in Sydney. This pushes him further ahead in the try-scoring stakes with eight tries from four fixtures. His nearest rivals are on four.


Broken thermostat

Super Rugby referees: We were amongst those who applauded SANZAR's decision a while back to appoint referees to games irrespective of their nationality since most match officials can be trusted to try their best to be impartial. This is a professional game, after all. But in light of recent events, we're having second thoughts. We are NOT accusing anyone of deliberately favouring any one side, human beings make mistakes, that's part of the game. But the inevitable fallout that results from errors by a 'home town' ref playing a role in the local team getting a positive result does nothing good for the reputation of match officials in general. Being a ref is hard enough already without doubt being cast over the decisions based purely on the colour of their passport. That said, we agree with SANZAR's position on "accountability" when referees perform poorly. Players get dropped when they're not up to scratch, coaches get fired - the same should apply to referees.


Get these guys a cup of warm soup!

Celebrating with defeated opposition: Forget double-takes, this one warranted nine or ten as Force lock Wilhelm Steenkamp celebrated the win over the Chiefs by grabbing Chiefs centre Tom Marshall while continuing to enjoy the moment. How Marshall managed to keep his cool clearly showed the difference in class between the two players. We are sure Steenkamp regrets his actions at full-time - let us hope an apology came.

Biarritz: Five-time French champions and two-time European Cup runners-up, founded in 1913 and now relegated from the Top 14, ending an 18-year stay in the elite division after losing to Perpignan on Saturday. It was coming for a long time this season but now it's finally been rubber stamped, the relegation hits home. What a fall down the rugby ladder for BO. The question now is, how will they respond in Pro D2.

Alby Mathewson: The Western Force number nine's stamp on Chiefs flanker Sam Cane early on in his side's win over the defending champions took some gloss off the Perth-based franchise's magnificent result. Mathewson was lucky to only have been penalised for his indiscretion but has subsequently received a one-week suspension.

Brive:When visiting a club that is undefeated at home, you're not doing your chances of victory any good by conceding two yellow cards and two red cards! Brive played the last 20 minutes against Castres with 13 min in their 38-6 loss on Saturday. Castres prop Yannick Forestier also deserves a shake of the head for shoeing Damien Neveu while he was on the ground - not hot.

Maurie Fa'asavalu: A swinging arm from the Harlequins flanker left Saracens left wing David Strettle unconscious at Wembley on Saturday. Strettle was subsequently stretchered off with just five minutes played in the Aviva Premiership match, yet there was no card for Fa'asavalu.

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Top 14
Friday , August 29
Clermont Auvergne vs Montpellier20:45
Saturday , August 30
La Rochelle vs Toulouse14:45
Lyon vs Brive18:30
Oyonnax vs Stade Francais18:30
Castres vs Bay Of Plenty18:30
Grenoble vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulon20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , August 29
Pumas vs Sharks19:10
Saturday , August 30
Griquas vs Cheetahs15:00
Blue Bulls vs Western Province17:05
Eastern Province Kings vs Lions19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Thursday , August 28
Canterbury vs NorthlandCanterbury vs Northland Preview
Friday , August 29
Wellington vs ManawatuWellington vs Manawatu Preview
Saturday , August 30
Counties Manukau vs Hawkes Bay14:35
Southland vs Otago17:35
North Harbour vs Waikato19:35
Sunday , August 31
Taranaki vs Bay Of Plenty14:35
Auckland vs Tasman16:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Wednesday, August 27
Waikato 17 - 46 TaranakiWaikato vs Taranaki Report
Sunday , August 24
Manawatu 7 - 35 AucklandManawatu vs Auckland Report
Bay Of Plenty 27 - 56 TasmanBay Of Plenty vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 23
New Zealand 51 - 20 AustraliaNew Zealand vs Australia Report
Argentina 31 - 33 South AfricaArgentina vs South Africa Report
More Rugby Championship results
Top 14
Brive 6 - 21 Clermont AuvergneBrive vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Stade Francais 23 - 20 Lyon
Bordeaux-Begles 30 - 21 Racing Metro Paris
Montpellier 20 - 17 GrenobleMontpellier vs Grenoble Report
Toulon 60 - 19 La Rochelle
Bayonne 38 - 12 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Blue Bulls 30 - 25 Eastern Province KingsBlue Bulls vs Eastern Province Kings Report
Sharks 19 - 16 CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs Report
Western Province 27 - 14 LionsWestern Province vs Lions Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Northland 35 - 5 WellingtonNorthland vs Wellington Report
Counties Manukau 29 - 25 OtagoCounties Manukau vs Otago Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Friday , August 22
Toulouse 35 - 6 CastresToulouse vs Castres Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Pumas 33 - 15 GriquasPumas vs Griquas Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Waikato 27 - 58 CanterburyWaikato vs Canterbury Report
Hawkes Bay 29 - 26 TaranakiHawkes Bay vs Taranaki Report
Thursday , August 21
North Harbour 21 - 25 Southland
Sunday , August 17
Tasman 35 - 15 Hawkes BayTasman vs Hawkes Bay Report
Northland 23 - 28 Manawatu
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 16
Australia 12 - 12 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
South Africa 13 - 6 ArgentinaSouth Africa vs Argentina Report
More Rugby Championship results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00