Planet Rugby

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

04th April 2012 14:16

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Hot or not feature march 5

Hot: The Cheetahs....Not so much: Gavin Henson

It's time for our weekly wrap of who has their name in lights at the moment... and who is making the headlines for the wrong reasons.

They're smooooookin!

Cheetahs: South Africa's perennial under-achievers are making waves in Super Rugby at the moment and winning over new fans with their entertaining style of play and never-say-die attitude. Two seasons ago, the Cheetahs couldn't buy a win on the road. Last year, they broke their duck by beating the Waratahs in Sydney and this season returned home with two triumphs from their four-match Australasian tour (including their first win on New Zealand soil) - picking up 11 log points out of a possible 20.

Harlequins: The Aviva Premiership leaders looked like champions in the making as they secured a hard-fought 24-19 victory over Saracens. Quins moved six clear at the top of the table after a monumental battle between the Premiership's top two sides in front of a world record crowd of 83,761 at Wembley. The London club had to mount a frantic rearguard action to secure the win when they were forced to spend almost 20 minutes at the end of the match reduced to 14 men.

Australia Sevens team: It may have been April Fool's Day, but Australia weren't joking around in Tokyo after coming from behind to win their first title of the 2011/12 Sevens World Series as Matt Lucas held his nerve to kick the conversion that sealed a thrilling 28-26 win over Samoa. The Australians had previously struggled on the current Sevens circuit with a fourth-place finish in the opening round on the Gold Coast their previous best result this season. Erm... Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi? Oi? Oi?

Stormers: Last year's semi-finalists beat the Bulls in a physical SA derby to remain the only unbeaten side left in this year's Super Rugby competition. The Stormers only chink seems to again be the inability to score tries, although on early evidence the men from Cape Town will be happy to strangle the life out of their opponents, while their raw power looks capable of taking them all the way. Certainly the way they exerted themselves on the Bulls showed the Stormers strength, although the manner with which the visitors were able to get back into the contest will concern Allister Coetzee. The Newlands faithful are believing more than ever that their team will finally break the riddle and bring a championship to one of the more consistent teams yet to claim a Super Rugby trophy.

Leinster: Leinster secured the provincial bragging rights and four more Pro12 points with an 18-9 victory over arch rivals Munster in their top-of-the-table clash. It wasn't pretty but the win at Thomond Park will no doubt give Joe Schmidt and his troops a boost heading into this weekend's Heineken Cup quarter-finals.

Biarritz and Perpignan: Both sides have battled against Top 14 relegation this season, however recorded crucial wins over the weekend to give themselves some much-needed breathing space. 2009 champions Perpignan hammered relegation rivals Bayonne 47-9, while fellow giants Biarritz beat 2010 champions Clermont 15-14 to bag their fourth win on the trot.


Someone turn on the heater...!

Gavin Henson: So rugby's favourite ballroom dancer is club-less. Again. We won't pretend we're surprised and judging by the majority of the comments we've received, neither are you. Henson is by no means the first rugby player to get into trouble for going overboard with the booze, but what we can't understand is why he was partying so hard after his team lost by 28 points?

Cardiff Blues: The whole Henson saga has somewhat overshadowed the fact that the wheels have come off the Blues' bus. They've won just one of their last five Pro12 matches. Friday's 31-3 defeat in Glasgow left them 11 points adrift of the Warriors in the last Pro12 play-off berth, effectively ending their title hopes.

Reds: Speaking of derailed campaigns, the defending Super Rugby champions look dead and buried after just six rounds. Smashed by 54 points in Pretoria and then drilled by 26 in Perth, Ewen Mckenzie's team - and Will Genia in particular - look rather off-colour without a certain Mr. Cooper.

Willie Mason: After arriving at Toulon amid much fanfare, the former Rugby League star was labelled "the biggest flop in the history of the club" on Toulon's official fanclub's website this week. Big Willie, who has struggled to make the starting XV at RCT, had a heated exchange on Twitter with some supporters and when one of them suggested he leave the club he replied: "iv already gone u stupid French p**** go f*** yourselfand choke on a croissant." Very professional indeed....

Bayonne: After going on one of the biggest recruitment drives ever seen - signing Neemia Tialata, Sione Lauaki, Mike Phillips, Joe Rokocoko and CÚdric Heymans, amongst others - the Basque club have won just six games all season and have sacked two head coaches. After last weekend's collapse in Perpignan, they are now clear favourites to get relegated from the Top 14 alongside Lyon.

Bath: Three consecutive losses - including defeat in the LV=Cup semi-final - have left Bath in eighth place, four points adrift of the top six, synonymous with Heineken Cup qualification. They were woeful against Saints last weekend and the confirmation of Sir Ian McGeechan's departure looks like the first step in an end-of-season shake-up at the Rec.

Compiled by Dave Morris and Ross Hastie

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