Who’s hot and who’s not: Freddie Steward outcome and Glasgow Warriors while All Blacks feature in both sections after Scott Robertson appointment

Colin Newboult
Scott Robertson and Chris Harris

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 after the weekend.


Correct outcome following Freddie Steward hearing: On Wednesday, it was revealed that Steward’s red card, handed out on the stroke of half-time against Ireland in the Six Nations, was rightly rescinded by an independent disciplinary panel. It was no consolation for England fans, players and coaches, whose chances in that clash were no doubt hampered by the full-back’s absence, but ultimately people make mistakes and the main thing is that South African referee Jaco Peyper and company learn from it. Peyper was a bit rash to come to a decision without considering the mitigation involved in the unfortunate collision with Ireland’s Hugo Keenan, but that can happen under those high pressure situations and, providing that error isn’t repeated, it can prove to be a useful learning curve for the sport going forward.

Scott Robertson achieves his dream: It was only a matter of when he was going to be confirmed as head coach but finally, after years of being in the frame, the current Crusaders boss will get the opportunity to coach the All Blacks. For us, it is three years too late as he should have been in position following the 2019 Rugby World Cup, but New Zealand Rugby (NZR) have at least managed to keep one of the game’s most talented young coaches within the country. It will be exciting to see what Robertson can achieve with an already-talented group after the 2023 global tournament has been completed but he’ll no doubt want to sign off with another Super Rugby title before taking the reins.

Fitting farewell for Sarah Hunter: After 141 caps, England’s most capped player played her final game for the Red Roses in the perfect setting and with the ideal result. Saturday’s game took place in Hunter’s home town of Newcastle at Kingston Park as England ran out 58-7 winners over Scotland, starting their Six Nations campaign in impressive style. What a stalwart Hunter has been in white. We wish her well.

Glasgow Warriors: That was an outstanding first-half performance from the Warriors as they blew Munster away in Limerick, picking up a try bonus point before the break before seeing out a 38-26 victory. The win consolidates their position in the United Rugby Championship top four and they’ll be delighted to go into their Challenge Cup knockout game against the Dragons with this result in the bank. Tries from Fraser Brown, Stafford McDowall, Domingo Miotti, Cole Forbes and Sione Vailanu saw them to a maximum as they ended Munster’s impressive recent run of form.

Tom Stewart’s incredible try-scoring record: What a breakthrough season it has been so far for Ulster hooker Stewart, who currently sits on 13 tries this URC campaign as the 22-year-old leads the way in the competition. “I think I have scored more tries this season than I have in my entire life,” he told the Belfast News Letter after the victory against the Bulls, with his treble making it three wins in a row in the tournament for Ulster. The province will hope he can continue this run of form when they face Leinster in the Champions Cup this weekend.

Springbok prop stars on the move: Bath’s league position may not show it but they have put together a talented squad and it will be even stronger next season with the addition of Thomas du Toit. The South Africa international, who can play both sides of the scrum, will join the Premiership team next season and will certainly improve their front-row options. The Sharks have found an equally impressive replacement, however, by bringing World Cup winner Vincent Koch back to South African shores. Koch has been away from the country since 2016, playing for Saracens, Wasps and most latterly Stade Francais over the past seven years, but he will return ahead of 2023/24.


Ian Foster and NZR in a difficult position: While we’re delighted for Robertson that he gets his big opportunity, we feel for the current head honcho who has been rather shafted by New Zealand Rugby. Although the official line was that Foster decided not to reapply, it was a position forced on him by the governing body, who have never truly backed the 57-year-old during the past four years. Foster had previously stated publicly that he would have liked another shot in the role if the All Blacks were to win the 2023 World Cup, but NZR were desperate to keep the in-demand Robertson on side. That puts the current head coach, as well as the All Blacks players, in a difficult situation, knowing that whatever happens in France, someone else will be in charge after the tournament. Ultimately, the governing body had no option but to name the Crusaders man early as they needed to ward off the other potential suitors, but the whole process has been handled badly.

Play-off hopes dashed for Gloucester, Bristol and Harlequins: The Premiership top four now looks out of reach for this trio after they suffered defeats to Newcastle Falcons, Leicester Tigers and Saracens respectively over the past weekend. The Cherry and Whites are 11 points off the knockout spots with Quins and the Bears one point better off as these teams’ domestic focus is now on European qualification.

Exeter Chiefs hanging on by a thread: Speaking of bad weekends in England, Exeter’s hugely disappointing 36-19 loss at the hands of Bath has dented their own play-off ambitions. Playing against the league’s basement side who had not won a Premiership game in their five previous run-outs, Exeter supporters would have expected a victory on the road on Sunday. However, they were well beaten at the Rec which leaves them eight points adrift of the top four with just three games remaining. Credit to Bath for their performance but Exeter look way off.

Munster’s first half: That was a disastrous opening 40 minutes from the Irish province as they left themselves with far too much to do in the second-half at Thomond Park. Going into the dressing rooms 28-0 down which became 31-0 soon after the resumption, it is incredible they managed to pull the scores back to 38-26 and at least take a try bonus point from proceedings. But there’s no hiding from that sluggish start to the game as they were picked apart by a lethal Glasgow outfit. Lessons must be learned ahead of this weekend’s clash at the Sharks.

Sharks woes continue: Speaking of the Durbanites, their form over recent times has left a lot to be desired as they have slipped down the URC standings, this after a strong opening to the season. They currently sit in eighth position after three straight defeats in the competition, which is obviously not ideal ahead of the European showdown with Munster this Saturday. The latest lost came despite having a Bok-laden XV on the field so their supporters will hope it is just rust from their returning stars and that the cobwebs are now blown off for this week.

Waratahs and Moana Pasifika: A victory over Fijian Drua aside, it has been a disappointing start to the campaign from the New South Wales-based side. The Waratahs had a much-improved campaign in 2022 following a disastrous 2021, but they have certainly taken a step backwards in the early part of 2023. Friday’s game against current leaders the Chiefs was always going to be a test but they ultimately made far too many errors, succumbing to a 24-14 defeat – their fourth of the campaign so far – with improvements desperately needed if they’re to salvage the season. Meanwhile, Moana Pasifika failed to fire a shot as they suffered a humiliating 59-0 defeat against the Hurricanes and they are bringing up the rear on the Super Rugby Pacific table after losing all five their matches played so far this year.

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