Who’s hot and who’s not!

Date published: May 20 2019

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!

Denny Solomona and Cobus Reinach: The Sale Sharks wing and Northampton Saints scrum-half continued with their excellent attacking displays after crossing the whitewash at the weekend against Gloucester and Exeter Chiefs respectively. Both scored great tries which sees them finishing in joint-first position on the Premiership’s try-scoring chart with 12 tries apiece for the season. Reinach was also this past week shortlisted for Player of the Year after an outstanding campaign that isn’t over just yet. He will be vital to Northampton Saints’ hopes at Sandy Park.

Glasgow Warriors: Dave Rennie’s troops came to the fore with a brilliant all-round performance in their PRO14 semi-final against Ulster and booked their place in the final against Leinster at Celtic Park thanks to a convincing 50-20 win over the Northern Irish province at Scotstoun. Glasgow were full value for their win as they dominated from start to finish, leading 24-3 at half-time and eventually outscored their hapless opponents by seven tries to three.

Simon Zebo: The Ireland utility back delivered a  fine attacking display as Racing 92 cruised to a comfortable 52-14 Top 14 victory at bottom-placed Perpignan on Saturday. Zebo gained a match-high 138 metres from nine runs which included three clean breaks, two defenders beaten, an offload and he was rewarded with three tries for his efforts.

Jaguares: The men from Buenos Aires showed that they are genuine contenders in Super Rugby’s hotly-contested South African Conference when they caused a huge upset by beating the Hurricanes 28-20 in Wellington. That was Gonzalo Quesada’s charges’ fifth victory from six matches with their only setback registered in the previous weekend against the Highlanders in Dunedin, where they suffered a narrow 32-27 defeat. The win over the Hurricanes was the Jaguares’ first against the 2016 champions and they are now in joint first position with the Bulls in their conference.

Sam Cane’s comeback: After spending nearly eight months on the sidelines due to a neck fracture sustained in New Zealand’s Rugby Championship Test against South Africa at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, the All Blacks flanker made a successful return for the Chiefs in their 23-8 defeat to the Blues at Eden Park. Cane made his entrance earlier than expected when Mitch Karpik came off for a head injury assessment and, despite Karpik returning in the half’s closing stages, Cane returned to the fray midway through the second half as a replacement for Mitchell Jacobson.

COLD AS ICE!

Scarlets: This was a season to forget for the Welsh region, who finished their 2018/19 campaign on a low note after suffering a 21-10 defeat to the Ospreys in their Champions Cup play-off at Liberty Stadium on Saturday. This means that for the first time in their history the Scarlets will be competing in the Challenge Cup and it’s also a terrible send-off for their head coach, Wayne Pivac, who will replace Warren Gatland as Wales’ coach after the Rugby World Cup.

Munster: After crashing out to Saracens in the semi-finals of the Champions Cup on April 20, the Irish province suffered a similar fate at the same stage of the PRO14 competition when they were beaten 24-9 by Leinster at the RDS Arena on Saturday. That result also means the Munstermen have won just one out of seven matches against their arch rivals at the Dublin venue, with their only success registered way back in 2008. This was also Munster’s 10th appearance in a PRO14 semi-final and they have now won five and lost as many of those knockout encounters.

Chiefs: The Hamilton-based outfit’s season went from bad to worse with that defeat to the Blues and they are now three points adrift of the men from Auckland at the foot of the New Zealand Conference standings and a whopping 26 behind the Crusaders, who are setting the pace at the top of the overall table. The Chiefs have now lost seven and won four – with two draws – of their 13 matches and are second from bottom on the overall table with just the Sunwolves below them.

Tolu Latu: The Waratahs hooker has been axed from a Wallabies training camp in Brisbane and will now have to explain himself to the Rugby Australia integrity unit this week. This, after reports that the front-row forward was found “slumped” behind the wheel of a car last Thursday and charged with driving under the influence, allegedly recording a blood alcohol reading of 0.135. What makes matters worse is that the Waratahs revealed that they were unaware of the incident until contacted by the Daily Telegraph on Saturday afternoon, mere hours before they were about to face local rivals the Reds in Brisbane, and it is understood Latu did not inform Rugby Australia either.

South African exodus: This is concerning for the South African game at both club and international level and also Super Rugby as a competition. It’s no secret that stadium attendances have been on the slide over recent seasons and with the best players heading north in their droves then unfortunately that fall in ticket sales will only continue. This week we witnessed Sale Sharks signing Coenie Oosthuizen, Jean-Luc du Preez and Dan du Preez, who join Robert du Preez, Faf de Klerk, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Lood de Jager and Akker van der Merwe at the club next term, while other Boks have signed elsewhere in Europe. We don’t blame them as financially it’s a no-brainer but it’s concerning how this exodus will affect the likes of the Bulls, who are set to be without Handre Pollard, Jesse Kriel and De Jager.