Planet Rugby

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

24th January 2012 16:12

Share:

Hot or not feature image2

Hot: Ross Ford - Not: Aironi

It's time for Planet Rugby's weekly wrap up of who is setting the benchmarks at the moment... and who should be dropped to the bench!

They're on fire!

Ross Ford: Captaining your national side is the highest individual honour to which any player can aspire. Our congratulations to Scotland's 112th Test skipper.

Munster: Six wins from six games. Number one seeds for the Heineken Cup quarter-finals. Five tries and 51 points on the road to last year's finalists....'nough said.

The Heineken Cup quarter-finalists: Some have been luckier than others. Top of the lucky list must be Toulouse: Expect an Airbus full of fruit baskets to arrive in Connacht shortly. Leading the not-so-lucky candidates are Edinburgh, whose reward for winning Pool Two is a quarter-final against a certain French team looking for their fifth title after a massive wake-up call. Doh!

The Pro12: With five of the eight HEC quarter-finalists coming from one league, it's hard to suggest that the Pro12 isn't setting the standard in the northern hemisphere. Food for thought indeed.

Simon Zebo, Takudzwa Ngwenya and Sitiveni Sivivatu: There were plenty of 'hot' wingers on show over the weekend with the flyers from Munster and Biarritz bagging hat-tricks along with places in our Team of the Week. But while they we're finishing off flowing moves, Clermont's All Black import was at the origin of attack after attack. It took Sivi a few games to find his feet, but he's firing on all cylinders now and must be considered one of the most dangerous wingers in Europe at the moment.

Stade Franšais: As the Amlin Challenge Cup top seeds after finishing the group stages with a points difference of +155, the Parisians are the bookies' second favourites (behind Toulon) to go all the way.

Treviso: Three cheers for Italy's top side after they came within a hairsbreadth of toppling the champions of England. Sarries can consider themselves somewhat lucky after the Benetton Boys had a try turned down in the dying minutes by the TMO with a controversial call.

Heyneke Meyer: As the Springbok coach rumour mill continues to turn, it's been reported that South Africa's administrators have finally decided to appoint the Bulls' main man as Peter de Villiers' successor. Meyer, who narrowly missed out on the position in 2008 following the SARU's decision to place a bigger emphasis on transformation than results, has been tipped to be unveiled as the new national coach on Friday. Given Meyer's impressive coaching record at Currie Cup and Super Rugby level, his rare ability to bring out the best in his players in high-pressure matches and his professional communication skills, it's no surprise the top brass at SARU are impressed.

Ewen McKenzie: The Wallaby Head Coach position isn't up for grabs - yet - but McKenzie was given a mighty big compliment by ARU chief executive John O'Neill, after revealing the Reds mentor would be a "fantastic candidate" to be the next Australia boss. The Super Rugby-winning coach, who has extended his Reds contract until 2014, is widely regarded as one of the leading candidates to replace Robbie Deans if and when the Kiwi leaves his post. No pressure then Robbie!

Cecil Afrika: The IRB Sevens Player of the Year was unveiled as the new IRB Keep Rugby Clean Ambassador for Sevens Rugby. He follows Samoa's Uale Mai and Kenya's Humphrey Kayange in becoming Sevens rugby's third anti-doping ambassador.


Someone turn on the heater...!

The European semi-final draws: Why is that the ERC insist on the semi-final venues for the Heineken and Challenge Cups being decided by pulling a little plastic ball out of a drum? Surely it makes more sense for the higher ranked teams to get home (country) advantage? As it stands, Leinster - ranked second after the pool stages - will have to travel to England or France if they make the semi-finals....eh?

Bryce Lawrence (in South Africa at least): The controversial Kiwi referee, who became public enemy number one in South Africa after being blamed by more than a few for ending the Springboks' reign as World Champions, will not travel to the Republic to officiate Super Rugby matches. It's understood that SANZAR are fearful that fans might take matters into their own hands if he controls any games in the Rainbow Nation.

Toulon's retirement village: So Andrew Sheridan is the latest 30-something to head to Toulon. The soon-to-be former Shark is 32, the same age as Bakkies Botha, Jonny Wilkinson, Carl Hayman and Dean Schofield. Simon Shaw is 38 while Sebastien Bruno is 37, just like Kris Chesney. Bernard Laporte might have to make provision for afternoon naps in his training schedule. Not exactly building for the future, is it?

Harlequins: Quins started the season with and bang and a fizz, but are struggling to produce much more than a muffled fart these days. A 21-point hiding at the hands of Saints followed by that defeat in western Ireland has put a damper on spirits at the Stoop to say the least. At least they have a chance to defend their Amlin Challenge Cup title, starting with tricky trip to Toulon.

Aironi: In six rounds of Heineken Cup competition, Italy's not-so-new franchise were the only team who failed to pick up a win. In fact, they didn't even get a point in Pool Four. Not a single one. Some fans are now questioning whether they deserve an automatic place in Europe's top competition. It's a tough call because they have the playing personnel to make an impact and Treviso have shown that with a bit of time Italian teams can be competitive. But just how much time do they need?

Welsh private parts: This one has nothing to do with form. While former Wales U20 player Steven Shingler is training in relative 'warmth' with Scotland, his brother and the rest of the Welsh Six Nations squad are in Poland climbing into frozen chambers for more cryotherapy sessions. We believe the expression goes: cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey. i.e. Not hot, coooooooooooold!

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 19
Gloucester vs Exeter19:45
Saturday , September 20
Sale vs London Welsh14:00
London Irish vs Saracens15:00
Harlequins vs Wasps15:00
Bath vs Leicester15:15
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle vs Northampton14:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 19
Munster vs Zebre19:30
Cardiff Blues vs Ulster19:35
Connacht vs Leinster19:35
Saturday , September 20
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Glasgow14:40
Scarlets vs Benetton Treviso18:00
Sunday , September 21
Ospreys vs Edinburgh16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , September 19
Brive vs Toulon18:00
Saturday , September 20
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulouse18:00
La Rochelle vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Clermont Auvergne vs Lyon18:00
Castres vs Oyonnax18:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:00
Montpellier vs Stade Francais18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 19
Lions vs Pumas19:10
Saturday , September 20
Western Province vs Griquas15:00
Blue Bulls vs Sharks17:05
Eastern Province Kings vs Cheetahs19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Wednesday, September 17
Southland vs Tasman19:35
Thursday , September 18
Northland vs Taranaki19:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 14
Wasps 20 - 16 NorthamptonWasps vs Northampton Report
Newcastle 18 - 20 London IrishNewcastle vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Cardiff Blues 12 - 33 GlasgowCardiff Blues vs Glasgow Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 27 - 21 MontpellierBordeaux-Begles vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
ITM Cup
Waikato 26 - 21 Counties ManukauWaikato vs Counties Manukau Report
Hawkes Bay 41 - 0 Otago
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 13
Gloucester 34 - 27 Sale SharksGloucester vs Sale Sharks Report
Bath 53 - 26 London WelshBath vs London Welsh Report
Exeter 20 - 24 LeicesterExeter vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
New Zealand 14 - 10 South AfricaNew Zealand vs South Africa Report
Australia 32 - 25 ArgentinaAustralia vs Argentina Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Leinster 42 - 12 ScarletsLeinster vs Scarlets Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulouse 9 - 13 Clermont AuvergneToulouse vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Racing Metro Paris 28 - 11 LyonRacing Metro Paris vs Lyon Report
Bayonne 23 - 6 Brive
Oyonnax 40 - 27 Grenoble
Toulon 24 - 28 Stade FrancaisToulon vs Stade Francais Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 31 - 27 PumasGriquas vs Pumas Report
Cheetahs 30 - 30 SharksCheetahs vs Sharks Report
Lions 35 - 33 Western ProvinceLions vs Western Province Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Bay Of Plenty 12 - 27 AucklandBay Of Plenty vs Auckland Report
Southland 36 - 34 Northland
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 12
Harlequins 0 - 39 SaracensHarlequins vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Benetton Treviso 10 - 21 MunsterBenetton Treviso vs Munster Report
Newport Gwent D'gons 15 - 17 Ospreys
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens29
2Bath29
3Leicester Tigers29
4Exeter26
5Northampton26