Who’s hot and who’s not!

David Skippers

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.

THEY’RE ON FIRE!

Perfect Leinster: We ran out of superlatives a long time ago for Leinster and it seemed inevitable that this superb squad would go through the regular-season with a 100% record. Yes, they won 15 from 15 games and the word squad is apt as it has been a real group effort from Leo Cullen’s men. Their youngsters have stood up throughout and it is clear this team has years of continued success ahead of them. Ulster was their latest win, prevailing 28-10. Next up, it’s Munster in a mouth-watering PRO14 semi-final in Dublin on Friday. Can they be stopped?

Amy Perrett: It was a momentous occasion when Perrett took charge of the Brumbies v Western Force match in Canberra on Friday as she became the first woman to referee a Super Rugby game. By doing that, she has broken through the glass ceiling and proved that women can do the job just as well, if not better, than their male counterparts. Hopefully she will continue with her progress and become a regular fixture in the game, inspiring future generations of women to take up refereeing.

Jack Willis’ plans after rugby: The Wasps back-row caught many by surprise with his announcement last week that he’s currently doing an evening plumbing course with the Warwickshire College Group, but it shows that he is a focused individual who knows what he wants in life. Willis revealed that his motivation to become a qualified plumber came while being sidelined with a serious ankle injury as he needed to draw up a plan for when he retires from his career as a rugby player. At just 23, Willis’ attitude is refreshing and shows a maturity beyond his years and hopefully more professional players follow his lead as their rugby careers will not last forever.

Rebels v Waratahs: We have been highly critical of the standard of Super Rugby AU but it has improved over recent weeks and it culminated in this superb game. It was full of skill and intensity as two play-off contenders went toe-to-toe, looking to secure their place in the finals. The Waratahs claimed the victory, securing a 38-32 triumph after touching down five times, but it was the Rebels that ended the match the happier. Matt Toomua’s late penalty rescued a bonus-point and gave them an excellent chance of reaching the play-offs with the winless Western Force their next opponents.

Ollie Thorley: The lethal wing sent another message to England head coach Eddie Jones of his quality when Thorley became only the third player to score four first-half tries in a Premiership game, following former Bath wing Tom Voyce in 2001 and ex-Wasps speedster Christian Wade four years ago. The 23-year-old completed a quartet of scores in just 21 minutes as Gloucester ended a run of three-successive home league defeats with a home victory against Leicester Tigers. Would the Cherry and Whites finisher make your England starting line-up?

COLD AS ICE!

Worrying signs for Kings: News of the Port Elizabeth-based outfit’s board’s decision to withdraw their team from all tournaments in 2020 due to financial constraints is concerning especially for their most important commodities, the players, who are now left without their incomes. That means they will have to look for new employment but under the current financial climate, that will be difficult to achieve and hopefully the beleaguered franchise will be able to bounce back in 2021 as it is important for South Africa’s Eastern Cape region to have a competitive side in the country’s rugby landscape.

Lachlan Swinton’s hit and the officials: There was a grave error last weekend when the officials missed a clear offside in the lead-up to Ryan Lonergan’s try for the Brumbies and they followed that with another awful call on Saturday. A penalty was awarded when Swinton shoulder charged Isi Naisarani but it should have also resulted in a red card. Quite why the referee didn’t look at it, or why the TMO did not alert referee Graham Cooper to the severity of the indiscretion, is anyone’s guess, but it was very poor officiating by both. There were also questions over Naisarani’s second try when Billy Meakes appeared to be in touch, but once again it was missed. Perhaps the incidents evened themselves out on Saturday but these are things they shouldn’t be getting wrong.

Wales Sevens decision: Inevitable? Maybe, but it is always disheartening to see moves like these being made. On Friday it was announced that the Welsh Rugby Union will end its men’s sevens programme for the foreseeable future due to the impact of Covid-19, saying it’s “an extremely regrettable decision”. The WRU revealed the financial implications of the pandemic – including the disruption of the World Rugby Sevens Series – has rendered the programme unsustainable in the current climate but hopes it will return in the future. Wales follows England in making cuts and we wish every player well in finding new playing jobs.

Inevitable mismatches: When it was decided the season would be completed in full but in a tightened schedule and with player welfare factored in, there was always the risk of this happening. This past week we have seen the impact significant rotation can have on a spectacle as Premiership teams have rolled out second-string line-ups and unfortunately come up against first-team starters. Bristol Bears (40-7) and Worcester Warriors (59-7) were two such sufferers as they went down heavily to Sale Sharks and Exeter Chiefs respectively. As soon as those team announcements were made, the result unfortunately looked a foregone conclusion, which is a shame for the competition.

Canterbury’s kit decision: It was disappointing to see the kit manufacturer opt for a model instead of an Ireland Women’s rugby player to wear their new jersey at the launch last week. Unsurprisingly the call did not go down well and Wasps player Florence Williams summed up the dismay over the move in the below video. Senior men’s players were used to model their new kit so why not women for the women’s? Canterbury have since apologised “for any upset caused” with the women’s kit now set to be re-launched in October.