Who’s hot and who’s not!

Date published: December 3 2018

It’s time for our Monday wrap of who has their name in lights and who is making the headlines for all the wrong reasons over the past week.

THEY’RE ON FIRE!

Double delight in Dubai: It was a memorable start to the 2018/19 World Rugby Sevens Series for New Zealand as both their Men’s and Women’s sides came away with the top prize on Saturday and Friday respectively. The Men beat USA in the final after a hard slog against England in the semi-finals. Somehow they summoned the energy to put in that winning performance in the final as they were deserved winners, following on from the Women’s 26-14 Cup triumph over Canada in their final. The Black Ferns were the standout side in the competition over two days.

Leinster: Unstoppable at the moment, even without their star Ireland players, and they again showed their depth by thrashing the Dragons. After dominating the Ospreys the previous week, they repeated the trick against another Welsh region by touching down nine times in a 59-10 triumph at Rodney Parade. This was arguably even more impressive and their so-called second-string players have certainly put pressure on the current incumbents. Is another double on the cards for the Dublin-based side? Few would bet against it as things are rosy at Leinster.

Bristol Bears: A bonus-point 41-10 victory over Leicester Tigers was another step in the right direction for Bristol as Pat Lam’s charges moved up to seventh position in the Premiership standings after the most recent round’s action. The English top flight league is bubbling nicely right now and that’s due in part to newly promoted Bristol as there’s no certainty for the trapdoor in 2018/19. Incredibly just seven points separates bottom to sixth place at the moment which is great news for the neutral. For Bristol though, if they keep playing as they are they should avoid the drop.

Agen: An incredible result that few, if any, saw coming against champions Castres. Agen have again struggled this season, especially away from home, and hadn’t won a match since Round Four, but they were resilient at Stade Pierre-Fabre. They were helped by ill-discipline from the hosts but Philippe Sella’s men pressurised them into mistakes and deservedly came away with a win on the road after Andres Zafra Tarazona touched down late on.

Sonny Bill Williams: While it’s not exactly rugby related, we feel praise should go the way of All Blacks centre Williams as he once again stepped into the boxing ring over the weekend. The fight was put on to raise money for Auckland City Mission and Sydney’s Exodus Foundation, who support homeless people in the cities, as they are causes Williams holds close to his heart. A very friendly four-round fight with Stu Laundy was declared a draw.

COLD AS ICE!

Midlands misery: It’s fairly safe to say it was a weekend to forget for the Midlands sides in the Premiership as Northampton, Leicester, Wasps and Worcester suffered defeats, going down to Newcastle, Bristol Bears, Saracens and Gloucester on Saturday. A dramatic Falcons score from Mark Wilson broke Northampton hearts at Franklin’s Gardens while Wasps battled bravely in defeat to Sarries and Worcester were outclassed by an in-form Gloucester. But for Leicester their 41-10 drubbing is yet another dismal effort that puts mounting pressure on Geordan Murphy.

Jake White phone call leak: Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle confirmed she cancelled a phone call with former World Cup-winning Springboks coach White after details of the call were leaked to the media. This, after White made contact with Rugby Australia to “offer” his services to take over as Wallabies coach. That White offered to take over the Wallaby reins was out of order as Michael Cheika is still the team’s coach despite their poor form in 2018. Castle has repeatedly said Cheika has her backing to take the two-time world champions to next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan which makes the fact that she even considered taking White’s phone call a strange decision.

Perpignan: With the Top 14 season approaching its halfway stage, the 2017/18 season’s Pro D2 champions are finding the going tough in France’s premier competition. Perpignan have lost all eleven of their Top 14 matches and Sunday’s defeat to Bordeaux-Begles leaves them firmly rooted to the bottom of the table with a meagre four bonus points to show for their efforts. They are 11 points adrift of 13th-place Grenoble, which is worrying at this stage.

Naka Drotské shooting: Spare a thought for the former Springbok hooker and Cheetahs head coach, who was was shot three times during a robbery at his brother’s smallholding near Pretoria last week. He was wounded in the chest and arm, and suffered a severe loss of blood while being rushed to hospital by ex-Springbok loosehead prop Os du Randt. Drotské is in a stable condition in hospital and on the road to recovery and we, of course, wish him well.