Planet Rugby

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

16th June 2014 09:00

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Hot or Not June 16

Hot: Ben Smith - Not: Australia and France

It's time for our 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!

Willie le Roux: Wales were bamboozled on more than one occasion by the Springbok full-back on Saturday. His try, two assists and class with ball in hand had the visitors all at sea. Le Roux is fast becoming one of the best number fifteens in world rugby - coach Heyneke Meyer feels he's already there - and with his chips and entertaining style wowing the crowds, his still very young international career is heading in one direction.

Ben Smith: From one full-back to another, Smith grabbed his first start at full-back with both hands. For years this player has been superb wearing fifteen for the Highlanders but has not been given the opportunity in his favoured position for the All Blacks. It seems that Israel Dagg's injury could be the start of an extended period at the back for Smith. One of many highlights was his chasing down and turnover of Manu Tuilagi.

JWC finalists: Holders England and 2012 winners South Africa booked their place in the Junior World Championship final on Sunday as they beat Ireland (42-15) and New Zealand (32-25) in their respective semi-final. England showed a nice mix of speed and power to run away easy winners while South Africa had to come from behind to claim victory. It's set up for a superb final at Eden Park on Friday, with the bookies unable to split them.

Japan: It's now nine wins in a row for Japan as the USA were their latest victims, winning 37-29 in Carson California over the weekend. Ayumu Goromaru kicked 17 points, converting all four of Japan's tries and also three penalties to help the Brave Blossoms pick up the bonus-point victory.

Nathan Charles: The Force hooker is the only top flight rugby player in the world suffering from cystic fibrosis, but that hasn't stopped him making his Test debut for the Wallabies against France. A genetic disorder that attacks the lungs and major organs, and leaves its sufferers with an average life expectancy of under 40, cystic fibrosis has required a daily regime of more than 20 pills and supplements for the 25-year-old forward. "The thing I want to be judged on is my performance of a weekend rather than the disease I carry," he said last week. Congratulations on your debut.


Broken Thermostat

Richie McCaw: It was a tad surreal to see the wily fox apparently so off the pace in the first half in Dunedin: slow to the breakdown, and well-marshalled when he got there, conceding a penalty and shocking most of the rugby community by missing a simple, front-on tackle on Marland Yarde, from which the winger scored. It was, in keeping with the Blacks' display, a different story after the break, as he carried relentlessly, and reminded us all while he's still among the best.


Someone turn on the heater!

Melbourne Test: While France will be pleased with their response after the opening clash in Brisbane, the supporters that paid good money to watch the Wallabies and Les Bleus must surely have been left wanting a refund. It was 0-0 at half-time before Australia eventually broke the deadlock, going on to win 6-0. No tries on the day as handling errors and ruck penalties dominated the game. We sympathise with those at the Etihad.

Decision in Toronto: Canada forward Jebb Sinclair was red carded in the 75th minute by referee Mike Fraser for 'leading with the elbow' just when the hosts were looking good to possibly cause a shock against Scotland. With the scoreline 17-19 in favour of the Scots and Canada being given the initial penalty offence, the blindside flank was then sent on his way as Ruaridh Jackson came off second best to Sinclair's elbow. The replays showed there was no malice in the carry, nor was his arm away from his body, and yet Fraser deemed it a red. Make your own minds up on this decision.

Wales: Warren Gatland's charges were completely out of their depth for most of the match against the Springboks in Durban. Their forwards, especially, battled to contain their counterparts. The Boks won most of the collisions and were dominant at the breakdowns. Experienced players like prop Adam Jones - who was replaced after 31 minutes by Samson Lee - and scrum-half Mike Phillips delivered below par performances and their positions in the run-on side must be under threat for this weekend's second Test in Nelspruit.

Russia: The Bears' IRB Nations Cup campaign got off to a disastrous start when they suffered a 66-0 defeat to Emerging Ireland in Bucharest. As the scoreline suggests, the Russians were never in the game and they must have breathed a huge sigh of relief when the match was abandoned after 45 minutes due to a thunderstorm. But despite that storm, there was no happy ending for the Russians as according to tournament regulations the result will stand.

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