Who’s hot and who’s not: All Blacks stars shine, Jordie Barrett’s red card and ‘rude’ Bongi Mbonambi

Adam Kyriacou
Who's Hot and who's not image 4 March 2024.jpg

The Waratahs celebrate against the Crusaders and Sharks hooker Bongi Mbonambi.

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.


Sold-out Loftus Versfeld: South African fans did their part at the weekend by filling up the hallowed Loftus Versfeld for the country’s biggest game – the North-South derby. Even with weather delaying the kick-off, the spirit and energy in the soaking wet stands remained high and the Bulls did incredibly well to harness the energy. The hosts put together a spectacular performance that comprehensively put the Stormers away with a 40-22 win that ended a seven-match losing streak to the Capetonians. It gives the Bulls some lovely momentum heading into the business end of the season.

Hoskins Sotutu shines: The Blues star’s skill-set was recently compared to that of the legendary Zinzan Brooke and that has immediately shown in the Super Rugby Pacific season. The All Black was outstanding against the Highlanders, scoring three tries and bagging a try assist in a truly rampant performance. He will be sending a message to Scott Robertson about his All Black credentials over the next four years.

Waratahs: That was quite the result for the Australian side. Considering New Zealand’s dominance over their trans-Tasman rivals over recent years, for the Waratahs to claim a comfortable 37-24 victory over the Crusaders is very impressive. The ‘Tahs were excellent throughout, responding superbly to last weekend’s disappointing Super Rugby opener and easing past the defending champions. It will give all the Australian franchises a huge boost looking towards the next few weeks.

Damian McKenzie sparkles… again: The playmaker saw the opportunity to wear the All Blacks 10 jersey with the departures of Richie Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett (short-term) to Japan and has taken it with both hands. McKenzie was on fire for the Chiefs in their 46-12 win over the Brumbies in the Super Round. He looked electric all game long and was rewarded with a silky try for his efforts. He is above and beyond the most in-form fly-half in New Zealand, and is favourite to start in that position in July.

‘Geech’ back in rugby: Legendary rugby mind Sir Ian McGeechan is set to make a return to the rugby world as a mentor and advisor to Doncaster RFC head coach Joe Ford, brother of England fly-half George. The former British & Lions head coach led the famous side on four different tours as head coach whilst adding another to his experience as an assistant. It is brilliant to see the great man back in rugby.

Irish provinces sweep: Ireland’s dominance is not only showing in the Six Nations, with all four Irish provinces bagging wins this weekend in the United Rugby Championship. That included Ulster, who put 49 points on the Dragons, despite recently parting ways with former head coach Dan McFarland. Leinster stay top of the pile and the other three sides all sit in the play-off spots – a testament to their quality.


Crusaders nought from two: The transition out of the super successful Robertson era was always going to be massively difficult and that is showing already with the illustrious side winless from the first two. Adding to the woes for new boss Rob Penney is the key injuries, which include superstar back Will Jordan, who is out for the entire Super Rugby Pacific campaign. Of course, the season is still in its infancy but the nerves in Christchurch will be starting to build and, with a tough trip to the Fijian Drua up next, a win is absolutely essential.

Nightmare Jordie Barrett tackle: It was a special occasion for the versatile All Black who ran out for his 100th Hurricanes appearance in the Super Round. These kinds of milestones should be celebrated with moments of brilliance, but it was the opposite for Barrett, who was red carded on the hour mark for a shocking tackle on Jordan Petaia. There was no questioning the decision as it was a very poor hit.

Scotland duo out: Gregor Townsend’s side suffered two big blows to their Six Nations campaign with star centre Sione Tuipulotu and wing Darcy Graham both ruled out for extended periods. Tuipulotu’s absence breaks up the fan-favourite ‘Huwipulotu’ centre pairing that has been so effective for the Scots and some solutions will need to be found. However, Graham’s absence will be easier to deal with due to Scotland’s strength in depth on the wing.

Sharks lose again: As if it could not get worse for the Durban side, they met a boisterous and passionate Lions team in Johannesburg who managed to complete the league double this season. Earlier in the campaign the Sharks fell just short at home, losing 20-18 to their rivals, but this time around they were comprehensively beaten 40-10 on the day. One win from 11 is brutal for a side with that quality which begs the question; when will heads will roll for the extremely poor results?

‘Rude’ Bongi Mbonambi: Speaking of the Sharks, their captain didn’t come out of Saturday’s clash particularly well after his chat with referee Aimee Barrett-Theron. The Springboks hooker was not happy that they had a try disallowed just before the break, but the way he spoke to the official was appalling. To Barrett-Theron’s immense credit, she handled the situation brilliantly and received plenty of praise as a result. What about Mbonambi? He was labelled ‘rude’ and ‘petulant’, and we very much have to agree.

READ MORE: Springboks legend says Ireland can only be ‘judged’ when they visit South Africa due to sub-standard Six Nations