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!
Elliot Daly: The utility back has been in outstanding form this season and continued to impress with a seven-minute hat-trick for Saracens in their comfortable 48-28 victory over Lyon. The French outfit simply couldn’t handle him, with Daly’s first a particularly brilliant try as he went a full 60 metres to touch down. Having been discarded by previous England head coach Eddie Jones, the full-back, centre or wing was on Monday named in new boss Steve Borthwick’s squad for the Six Nations so it’s been a fantastic few days for Daly, who will be delighted.
Justin Tipuric and Ospreys: After a poor start to the season, the Welsh region have turned their form around. It started with their magnificent away victory over Montpellier and they have shown that the performance in France was not just a one-off. They followed that up with fine wins over Cardiff and Scarlets before they beat Philippe Saint-Andre’s men for a second time on Saturday. It was a superb game in general but huge credit must go to the Ospreys as they eked out the win. Flanker Tipuric was once again superb, scoring a brilliant try in the second half and producing an all-round excellent display. After a long lay-off after a serious injury sustained in June 2021, the flanker is very much back to his best.
Leinster: They could probably be in this section most weeks but they were particularly good at Kingsholm on Saturday. Despite the absence of Johnny Sexton, Robbie Henshaw and Tadhg Furlong, as well as a few others, the Irish province were magnificent against Gloucester. The biggest compliment you can give to Leinster is that they make the game look so easy, with the way they move the point of contact an absolute joy to watch. Leo Cullen’s men were ruthless in the West Country and, on this form, will be very difficult to stop.
Six Nations given Netflix treatment: It has finally been confirmed that the global streaming service will follow the sides in the upcoming 2023 tournament as they prepare to release a docuseries early next year. Rugby bosses, as well as the fans, hope that this will have the same effect as Formula One’s ‘Drive to Survive’, which has done an incredible job in attracting new fans to their sport. There is no doubt that, if done well, it can do a similar thing for rugby union. The intensity, the physicality, the rivalries – among many other things – will make it a fascinating watch if all the Six Nations sides are willing to open up and provide good access to the producers. The only concern is that it is set to be released after the World Cup, which may impact the excitement for diehard supporters, but it isn’t necessarily aimed at those people. They will watch it anyway. It is for those who have yet to get immersed in the sport, who will hopefully become ardent watchers after seeing the documentary.
Sale Sharks hoping to follow suit: Before that was announced, it was revealed that the Premiership side are hoping to land a deal and have their own ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentary. They have been gathering footage for the past two years and have linked up with the production company headed by Brian O’Driscoll and BT Sport presenter Craig Doyle, 3 Rock Productions. Nothing has been signed yet, so there is plenty of work still to be done, but Sale’s willingness and openness is admirable. Director of rugby Alex Sanderson is one of the most interesting characters in the sport and never shies away from media duties, so the ingredients are there for it to be a fascinating watch. It is great that clubs are looking for innovative ways to grow the sport.
Coaching coup for Wales: Warren Gatland has added to his coaching team ahead of the 2023 Six Nations by bringing in Alex King and Mike Forshaw. The former is well known to Welsh rugby having stepped in during the 2017 tournament while Gatland was on Lions secondment, but Forshaw is perhaps a new name for the wider rugby public. However, we think that it is an exceptional appointment for Wales. The rugby league legend has been at Sale since 2013 and has forged a reputation as being one of the best defence coaches in the Premiership. Despite the Sharks often residing around mid-table, their rearguard has always been strong and it is a slight surprise no major nation has come calling previously. Perhaps it was Sale’s position in the table that has counted against Forshaw in the past but, with the Greater Manchester outfit now second in England’s top-tier with nine victories in 12, Wales have quite rightly come calling.
Eddie Jones replaces Dave Rennie: In a dramatic turn of events, Rugby Australia (RA) announced Jones as their new head coach, with Dave Rennie being relieved of his duties. The former England boss will start on January 29, and his contract runs through to the 2027 Rugby World Cup that Australia will host. Jones will also oversee the Wallaroos program as the RA look to continue growing the women’s game. It is a bold appointment with this year’s showpiece event so close, but RA believes it is an opportunity they could not miss in getting Jones involved.
COLD AS ICE!
Players not helping themselves with red cards: There was a plethora of red cards in the Champions Cup at the weekend but very few of them could be debated. Cobus Wiese was the first to be dismissed for Sale Sharks before Munster’s Jack O’Donoghue was sent off in their game with Northampton Saints. Henry Slade was perhaps unfortunate to see red but he is the only one who had a case. On Sunday, both Ben Loader and Ciaran Parker were sent from the field for London Irish (more on them below) and, although Les Kiss was angry with the first one, ultimately the full-back went too high and paid the price. His illegal actions also forced Manie Libbok from the field and those are the sort of collisions and outcomes rugby is trying to eliminate.
London Irish the biggest offenders: As we mentioned, Kiss was frustrated with Loader’s red card but, with that sort of attitude, they’re not going to eradicate their red card issues. They’ve had a fair few dismissed this season, from Adam Coleman to Agustin Creevy, and there evidently needs to be a chance in approach from the Exiles. Loader’s was bad technique while Parker’s was just reckless and absolutely uncalled for, and left them down to 13 men for just under half the game. The frustrating thing for Irish is that they actually played pretty well with a two man disadvantage but their chances of winning went with their ill-discipline.
Injury blows for England and Wales: Borthwick already has a big job on his hands with the World Cup starting in just under eight months time, but it has become even harder looking ahead to the upcoming Six Nations. The Red Rose will be without key front-row Luke Cowan-Dickie, potentially for the whole of the tournament, due to an ankle injury while top-class flanker Tom Curry is set to miss the opening two matches after suffering a hamstring issue. They are joined on the sidelines by Wales and Gloucester wing Louis Rees-Zammit, who will also be absent for the opening couple of Six Nations encounters. While he is perhaps not as big a miss as those two important English forwards – with Warren Gatland no doubt focusing on improving the team’s basics – Rees-Zammit has that sprinkling of stardust which can change games in an instant. We wish all three a quick and speedy recovery.
Potential coaching turmoil at Scotland: It was announced last week that attack coach AB Zondagh had left Gregor Townsend’s coaching staff just a few weeks before the start of the Six Nations. He has departed for ‘family reasons’ and to ‘pursue other opportunities’. First of all, family comes first in everything, so Zondagh has absolutely made the right choice, but it is no doubt a blow to Scotland’s Six Nations preparations. Not only that but there are also rumours Townsend will depart as their head coach following the World Cup. He has reportedly applied for the role of attack coach within the French set-up, something the Scottish Rugby Union have not yet denied. It opens up a number of questions, from Townsend’s happiness in the job to the governing body’s want – or apparent lack of – to keep hold of him. It could be a fascinating storyline to follow over the next few months.
Mathieu Raynal’s hamstring issues: ‘I’m too old for this,’ exclaimed French referee Raynal after he was replaced during the Champions Cup match between the Bulls and Exeter Chiefs. The veteran official suffered a hamstring injury and was duly replaced by his assistant referee Thomas Charabas, who made his Champions Cup debut. The 41-year-old official was the victim of the conditions as he had to officiate the match on the highveld with temperatures exceeding 31 degrees Celsius. It is not the first time that Raynal needed to be replaced, but he will be thankful that it was nowhere near as horrific as his 2013 injury when he suffered a double fracture to his tibia and fibula, broke a collarbone, and an ankle in a collision during a match between Racing 92 and Montpellier.
Liners leaking tries: The Hanazono Kintetsu Liners have endured a torrid start to the new year suffering back-to-back defeats and conceding more than 70 points in their first two games of 2023. The Japanese side, which has former Wallaby Will Genia and former Scotland international Ben Toolis on their books, conceded 11 tries against Kubota Spears in their first game of the year. Canon Eagles matched that tally this weekend. Over the two games, the Liners have scored 19 points but have conceded a mammoth 151. Japan international Amanaki Mafi scored a hat-trick for Canon Eagles while full-back SP Marais and flanker Sioeli Vakalahi grabbed braces. Things look ominous for the Liners as they front up against one of the competition’s favourites, Suntory Sungoliath, next week.
READ MORE: Eddie Jones: Reaction to the DRAMATIC appointment of the new Wallabies head coach
The article Who’s hot and who’s not: Eddie Jones replaces Dave Rennie, Elliot Daly and Justin Tipuric star, and Six Nations gets Netflix treatment appeared first on Planetrugby.com.