Planet Rugby

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

13th June 2012 09:47

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World map hot not

It's warmer down south

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!

Southern hemisphere: No one seriously expected Ireland to beat the All Blacks but Welsh fans had realistic hopes that the Grand Slam champs might end their drought on Australian soil - that extends from 1969 - against a Wallaby side infected with self-doubt after the Scottish hiccup. The English thought playing at sea level might offer them a chance against a Bok side finding their feet under a new coach. Most expected a near full-strength Italian side to cruise past a second-string Pumas outfit. In the end, the 4-0 whitewash suggests matching the pace and intensity of the southern hemisphere heavyweights remains a work in progress for their challengers from the North.

Toulouse: It wasn't a classic final by any stretch of the imagination but no one will deny that Toulouse deserved their 19th French title. The Big Red and Black Machine dominated that French league, leading the championship for the last 16 rounds before totally outmuscling Toulon at scrum time in Paris. A mention too for Luke McAlister, who landed all six of his shots at goal.

Samoa: Top of the IRB Pacific Nations Cup standings as the only unbeaten side in this year's tournament following wins over Tonga and Fiji, Samoa put themselves in a position to clinch the title next week if they beat Japan.

Julian Savea: The young Hurricane proved, more than adequately, that he could make the step up to the Test arena as he scored three blockbusting tries to herald a new era for the world champions under Steve Hansen.

Bryan Habana: The 2007 World Player of the Year has been in outstanding form for the Stormers this season and in his first Test appearance in 2012 he showed that he can still be an important player for the Boks too. The former Bulls (sorry, we couldn't resist) wing displayed glimpses of the kind of form that once made him the most dangerous player on the planet with his best performance in green and gold for ages.

Will Genia: Australia's number nine was the clinical mastermind who ran the courageous Welsh into despair as the Wallabies tasted Test redemption only four days after a shock loss to Scotland. Genia was back to his dangerous best, inspiring his side to victory after taking control of the match with two pivotal plays in the second half - first, darting over for a try seconds after half-time, and then sending centre Pat McCabe across in the 67th minute to snuff out the Welsh comeback.

Los Pumitas:Argentina's Under 20s have been the sensation of the Junior World Champs, following on from their senior side's upset of Italy to top Pool C in convincing fashion and qualify for the semi-finals. The hosts await.

Pieter de Villiers: It's been a long time since the Bok scrum looked that solid. The former Stade Franšais and France stalwart has been handed a lot of the credit for his input. Could the real PDV please stand up?


Bbbrrrr... Someone turn up the heater!

Peter de Villiers: He can't find a job, but that hasn't stopped P-Divvy from making news. In his recently released book, the ex-Bok coach says "I think I was the Mandela of rugby." Eh??? We reckon drawing a comparison to a man who spent 27 years in prison only to walk out and shake hands with his oppressors is more than a little rich when you consider that De Villiers has yet to stop bleating on about how he needs an apology from Bryce Lawrence. Talk about delusions of grandeur. A little perspective please!

Zebras: Despite an impressive coaching line-up which includes some of the greats of the Italian game, the Parma-based team that will take part in the PRO12 and Heineken Cup next season could possibly have the worst name in the history of the game! Rugby is a brutal, physical game where the laws of the jungle (pardon the pun) are applied ruthlessly on the field and in the press. The FIR have been at pains to stress that they want a team made up mostly of Italians and not imports from the Highveld. Yet they've chosen a not-so-Italian animal to be their symbol. The funniest part of the whole situation is that Italy's other team, Treviso (who actually win fairly often these days) are known as i Leoni (the Lions). We can see the headlines following Italian derbies already...

Japan: Former Wallabies coach Eddie Jones took over the reins from John Kirwan after the defending Pacific Nations Cup champions' winless showing at last year's World Cup. Jones was seen as the man that man that would fix the 2019 World Cup hosts' problems, especially after he guided Suntory Sungoliath to the Japanese Championship title last year. But the men from the Land of the Rising Sun have little to crow about after suffering consecutive defeats at home to Fiji and Tonga.

Kurtley Beale and Quade Cooper: Being injured didn't prevent the Wallabies duo from hitting the headlines. Only problem is... they made the front page and not the back page of newspapers in Australia after being asked to leave a Brisbane hotel during the early hours of Friday morning after an "incident" with security guards at the establishment's pub. It is alleged that Beale hit a security guard on the head. The Australian Rugby Union are investigating. Another incident to be swept under the carpet?

Rhys Priestland: The Wales pivot must still be wondering what could have happened if he had managed to hold onto the ball in the 63rd minute in Brisbane. With a massive overlap on his outside and the score at 20-19 Wales were on the attack inside Australia's 22 when Priestland dropped the egg. To be fair, the pass was a difficult one and high above his head but as they say in cricket...catches win matches.

SABC: Another mammoth stuff-up from South Africa's national broadcaster. Instead of showing a delayed broadcast of the first Test between the Springboks and England, as advertised, fans were treated to....an episode of Smallville. It's a sad day when spandex suits, kryptonite and super-powered teenage-angst trump Test rugby.

AWOL Pacific Islanders: It's a sorry reflection of the state of rugby in the Pacific Islands when on a weekend that Samoa, Tonga and Fiji are playing Test matches, no less than twelve internationals were lining up for the BGC APB invitational side against Saracens in Hong Kong. A combination of politics and money meant that Kahn Fotuali'i, Alesana Tuilagi, Henry Tuilagi, Seilala Mapusua, Seru Rabeni, Viliami Ma'asi, Tonga Lea'aetoa, Elvis Seveali'i, Vilimoni Delasau, Mahonri Schwalger, Deacon Manu and Sione Timani were not doing duty for their respective national sides.

Top 14 knock outs: Toulouse forwards coach Yannick Bru said it best after the final: "The Top 14 is totally locked." 240 minutes of rugby and not single try. C'est ennuyeux.

The European ranking system: We've made this point before and it seems that the big clubs in England and France are also sick of the lopsided clashes and pools that have become a trend in the Heineken Cup. English clubs are threatening to pull out off European competition if the qualification and ranking system is not reviewed and it's easy to understand why.

Compiled by Ross Hastie, Dave Morris and Dave Skippers

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