Who’s hot and who’s not!

Date published: June 11 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.


New Zealand’s second-half: The switch was flicked and France felt the full force of the All Blacks, who ran in seven tries after the break to win 52-11 in Auckland. Codie Taylor, Ben Smith, Rieko Ioane (2), Damian McKenzie, Ngani Laumape and Ardie Savea all crossed in those 40 minutes as the bench certainly had an impact. When the All Blacks play like this there are few teams that can live with them. A great watch.

Faf de Klerk and South Africa: To come from 24-3 down and beat England deserves huge praise, while getting their noses in front by half-time was quite staggering. De Klerk was the catalyst of the Springbok resurgence as he, along with Willie le Roux, returned to the Test circuit in style. The half-back was man-of-the-match and rightly so as England couldn’t live with him with ball in hand. He was also busy in defence.

Australia: Plenty of positives for the Wallabies from their victory over Six Nations champions Ireland, with their backline particularly impressive. Will Genia was intelligent at the base, Bernard Foley looked full of confidence while Kurtley Beale and Samu Kerevi appear a combination they need to stick with. Israel Folau commanded the skies while the pack, notably David Pocock, can all hold their heads high as ending Ireland’s 12-game winning run was always going to take some doing. Now they’ll look to back that up with a series win next week.

Australia Women and South Africa Men Sevens: It was a great weekend for these countries who finished their respective 2017/18 World Rugby Sevens Series campaigns as champions. Despite suffering a 33-7 defeat to New Zealand in the women’s final of the Paris Sevens, Australia clinched the series due to consistency during their campaign and they finished with tournament wins in Dubai and Sydney to finish with 92 points, two more than New Zealand. Meanwhile, the Blitzboks also pipped Fiji by two points after a thrilling final against England in the men’s tournament and follows their victory in the series opener last December. This was the first time in the history of the World Rugby Sevens Series the winners were decided in the last match of the final tournament.

France U20s: As host nation of World Rugby’s U20 Championship, there’s plenty of pressure on France to do well and, after grinding out victories against Ireland and Georgia, they hit their straps in emphatic fashion against Pool C rivals South Africa, who they beat 46-29 to clinch their place in Tuesday’s semi-finals against defending champions New Zealand. France’s 17-year-old number eight Jordan Joseph was the star performer against the Baby Boks and scored a brace of tries after a powerful ball-carrying display.

George Turner: The Glasgow Warriors hooker delivered a brilliant cameo performance off the bench and is the envy of front-row forwards around the world after crossing for three tries in Scotland’s 48-10 victory over Canada in Edmonton. The 25-year-old, who replaced Fraser Brown on the half-hour mark, scored all three of his tries off the back of mauls and in doing so became the first Scotland player to score a hat-trick in 11 years.


Argentina: All of the good work done at Super Rugby level by the Jaguares looked to be undone on Saturday as the Pumas – basically they’re the Jaguares – were back to their sloppy selves of the early season. Several handling errors and a real lack of ideas in possession killed Argentina in San Juan and, while Wales frustrated them at the breakdown, this was a hugely disappointing showing from Daniel Hourcade’s men.

Refereeing and TMOs: The non-decision to punish All Black pair Sam Cane and Ofa Tu’ungafasi after they combined to leave France wing Remy Grosso with two fractures of the face, the call to yellow card France lock Paul Gabrillagues, some odd decisions in the Australia-Ireland game and the Mako Vunipola yellow card in Johannesburg made for a disappointing day from the officials. However, it’s the two incidents in the New Zealand versus France encounter at Eden Park which particularly rankles. If consistency was applied then flanker Cane should have seen yellow while there was a case for Tu’ungafasi to be sent-off after his shoulder connected with Grosso’s head, which caused the injury.

England’s defence: There is no hiding from 105 points being leaked in their last two outings and the immediate journalists after the match pressed Eddie Jones on his team’s recent performances. Jones believes discipline is their major problem and also discounted the Barbarians result as not being a proper fixture, which it feels is an attempt to gloss over their recent defensive woes. There is an issue as England again looked sluggish and disorganised without the ball and, against teams like the Baa-Baas and the Boks on the highveld, it will continue.

Sir Gordon Tietjens and Samoa Sevens: Tietjens’ reputation as a great Sevens coach is taking a knock as he is battling to take Samoa to the much anticipated heights which was expected by his appointment in 2016. The Pacific Islanders signed off their 2017/18 World Rugby Sevens season in unspectacular fashion at the Paris Sevens with a defeat to Scotland in the 13th place semi-finals. This, following a defeat to France in the Challenge Trophy quarter-finals and losses to Fiji, New Zealand and Kenya on day one. This meant they finished their World Series campaign in 10th position with 59 points on the overall standings – a far cry from their 2010 placing when they ended the season as series winners.