Who’s hot and who’s not: Georgia, Portugal and Scotland shine while Marcos Kremer and Nic White incident are frowned upon

Adam Kyriacou

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.


Georgia bang on the door: Their second triumph over a tier one nation this year came on Saturday as they shocked Wales 13-12 at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff. For a long time the Lelos have been banging on the Six Nations door and now surely it must be opened as this was a strong Wales team on paper, so take nothing away from Georgia’s achievement over the weekend. The scenes at full-time were wonderful to see but the belief they could get over the line with their noses in front grew more and more as the game progressed, with their scrum especially demolishing their Wales counterparts late on. What a day for inspirational head coach Levan Maisashvili and his troops.

Finn Russell and Scotland: That was a special performance from Russell and company at Murrayfield as they showed their class with ball in hand, albeit against 14 players (we will get to that red card later). It was as close to a complete performance as you’ll see from Scotland as everyone pitched in to allow the likes of Russell to orchestrate an eight-try 52-29 win. The Racing 92 fly-half pulled the strings majestically all game but mentions must also go to hat-trick hero Darcy Graham and two-try Sione Tuipulotu, who enjoyed arguably his best game in a Scotland jersey. This win is such a positive end to 2022 for the Scots as they go into a Rugby World Cup year with their tails very much up.

Springboks bounce back: After a winless tour going into the past weekend’s match against Italy in Genoa, the pressure was ramped up somewhat on South Africa. But the Springboks showed their class on Saturday with an impressive 63-21 victory over the Azzurri that saw them cross the whitewash a staggering nine times. Kurt-Lee Arendse led the way with a brace against a dangerous Italian outfit, as the result finally gives South Africa some positive press on this tour, with Rassie Erasmus dominating the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Now the Boks will hope to finish the year with a win over England at Twickenham in what is a mouth-watering finish to the year-end Tests.

England’s unreal finish: If the Springboks are to achieve that this weekend then they will hope to face the England side that pitched up for an hour or so against New Zealand, not the one in the closing stages. Indeed, this was a Jekyll and Hyde performance from the English as they fought back from 25-6 down thanks to three late tries that saw replacement prop Will Stuart (2) and full-back Freddie Steward go over, with fly-half Marcus Smith clicking into gear as he caused the All Blacks all kinds of problems late on. It was a sparkling finish from the Red Rose which made the choice to kick the ball out late on all the more baffling as New Zealand were on the ropes. Should they have played on?

The amazing Kevin Sinfield: He might have made his name in rugby league but he’s done so much in rugby union in such a short space of time, both on and off the field. Playing a vital role in Leicester Tigers’ revival to become Premiership champions once again was quite an achievement, but what he has done to support motor neurone disease research has been staggering. This past week Sinfield ran seven ultra-marathons in seven days for a cause that helps former Leeds Rhinos team-mate Rob Burrow, Scotland legend Doddie Weir and so many more. Sinfield is a quite extraordinary human being, with the money raised up at £1.79m and counting. Surely a knighthood is coming?

World Cup for Portugal: Huge congratulations to Portugal as they claimed the last spot at next year’s Rugby World Cup after salvaging a late 16-16 draw with the USA in Dubai. Samuel Marques’ penalty goal meant they progressed to the showpiece event on points difference, with Os Lobos’ rewarded by being placed in the same pool as Australia, Wales, Fiji and Georgia. The scenes at full-time were amazing to watch as all roads now lead to France for Portugal. One does have sympathy for USA though as what a cruel way to miss out on the event.

World Rugby Awards winners: Ireland back-row Josh van der Flier and New Zealand fly-half and co-captain Ruahei Demant were the big winners at the world governing body’s star-studded awards ceremony in Monaco on Sunday as they won the men’s and women’s Player of the Year gongs. Van der Flier was rewarded for his outstanding form which helped his country to their historic series victory against the All Blacks in New Zealand while Demant was at the forefront of the Black Ferns’ triumphant World Cup campaign which was held on home soil recently. Amongst the other award winners were New Zealand women’s director of rugby Wayne Smith, who was named coach of the year, Italy full-back Ange Capuozzo and Black Ferns wing Ruby Tui, who walked off with the respective men’s and women’s Breakthrough Player of the Year awards.


Marcos Kremer sees red: What was he thinking? Kremer gave the referee Karl Dickson every possible opportunity to brandish the red card against Scotland as he raced into the ruck from distance, made direct contact with Jamie Ritchie’s head and did so with a swinging arm and what looked very much like intent. It ultimately cost his country any chance of a victory at Murrayfield in a disappointing end to Kremer and the Pumas’ year. Both player and team have been excellent throughout 2022, with Argentina’s discipline having improved until this past weekend. Kremer will hopefully learn a harsh lesson but there’s little defence for what he did as it was about as clear cut as it gets.

Shocking loss for Wales: The knives are certainly out in Wales after this latest setback for the team. To lose at home to Italy in the Six Nations was thought to have been their rock bottom of 2022, but Georgia had other ideas as they claimed an historic win at the Principality Stadium on Saturday. Questions are being asked from top to bottom of the Welsh game following this result as their slide down the World Rugby rankings continues. At least they have one chance to save their year, against Australia on Saturday. However, another loss with a poor showing and we could possibly see a major coaching casualty before the World Cup. This tweet below makes tough reading for Wales fans.

A shocking game in Dublin: It wasn’t pretty, far from it. Many were expecting a pulsating meeting to round off a busy day of Autumn Nations Series action but what followed was anything but. It was 3-0 after 54 minutes and 3-3 on 65 minutes before the game eventually came to life in the closing stages. Ireland head coach Andy Farrell admits his side have “a lot to do” before the World Cup as the planet’s number one side have not truly fired this autumn. Australia meanwhile can’t hide from their results, despite improvements on this tour.

That Nic White incident: Following on from that game at the Aviva Stadium, the hot topic in the post match was quite how Wallabies scrum-half White was allowed to return to the field after he was seen staggering and clearly shaken from a knock. The below studio debate between Rob Kearney, Andrew Trimble and Matt Williams is well worth a watch but for us it’s clear the Australian should not have come back on. As former Ireland full-back Kearney says, what happens if he suffers a second head knock after returning to the field? Indeed.

Rassie Erasmus banned: The most vocal director of rugby on social media was handed a two-game suspension by World Rugby this past week and rightly so after his continued tweets that he insists are ‘messages’ for Springbok supporters. Erasmus needs disciplining internally by SA Rugby, a word from head coach Jacques Nienaber or even his players, but the latter doesn’t appear likely. The video tweets feed what’s an ongoing issue in South African media of blaming officials, with ‘Rate the Ref’ pieces and YouTube accounts fanning unnecessary flames.

READ MORE: Sunday Social: Two new Test centurions, emotional moments and shirt swaps in the Autumn Nations Series