Who’s hot and who’s not: Super Rugby Pacific quarter-finalists decided and a big week for Pacific Island rugby

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

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.


Super Rugby quarter-finalists: The southern hemisphere tournament rounded out its regular season and in doing so locked in the eight teams heading into the play-offs. Fijian Drua made history by qualifying for the first time thanks to a win against the Reds in Suva. The Queenslanders snuck through the cracks, securing the final spot, whilst the Waratahs and Hurricanes joined the top four; Chiefs, Crusaders, Blues and Brumbies. It is all set for an intriguing set of quarter-finals to come.

Home comforts for Blues and Brumbies: Both teams secured the all-important home game in the quarter-finals of Super Rugby Pacific following victories at the weekend. It was a nervous 80 minutes for the New Zealand outfit as the Highlanders put up a real fight at Eden Park, but they eventually got the job done by claiming a 16-9 triumph. They will face the Waratahs in the last-eight while the Brumbies will take on the Hurricanes after the Canberra-based side overcame the Rebels 33-17. It was much easier for the Australians and they will look to make home advantage count in the knockout stages.

Pacific Island rugby: It was a landmark weekend for the island nations as the aforementioned Fijian Drua made their first Super Rugby quarter-final in just their second season. They have been a joy to watch all year and deservedly earned their place in the knockout stages. It has not been such a good campaign for Moana Pasifika but they finally got off the mark in their final clash by impressively overcoming the Waratahs. Well done to both.

All Blacks coup for struggling Pau: They finished third bottom of the Top 14 but have added some star quality to their ranks by bringing in Sam Whitelock on a two-year deal. He will join brother, back-row Luke, at the French club following the conclusion of the upcoming Rugby World Cup. At one stage, the lock appeared to be on the decline but he rolled back the years in 2022 so, on the face of it, it looks a very savvy signing from Pau.

Great week for 42 Irishmen: Congratulations to those who made Ireland’s wider training squad for the upcoming global tournament. There were not too many surprised in the 42, although the omission of Munster’s Jean Kleyn was a big surprise. They have a very strong core group and plenty of talent itching to get their chance during the warm-up matches. It is very much a team that could challenge for World Cup glory later this year.

Perpignan stay up: Congratulations to the Catalans, who maintained their place in the Top 14 with an impressive 33-19 triumph over Grenoble on Saturday. An incredible 5,000 Perpignan supporters were in attendance at the Stade des Alpes and they saw Posolo Tuilagi – the son of Henry – Sadek Deghmache and Jake McIntyre touch down as they won their promotion/relegation play-off. They will look to build next season and attempt to avoid the stress they endured this campaign.

Georgia U20s: Rugby in the country continues to grow consistently and their latest achievement will send shockwaves through the rugby world. Georgian rugby is clearly in a great place as their U20s notched up an impressive 40-38 win against England’s age-grade side in a warm-up game for the World Rugby U20 Championship in South Africa. It is a sign of good things to come for the emerging nation as the young stars put on a performance to remember. It also bodes well for the U20 team’s chances at the tournament later this month.


Mohamed Haouas: The France prop received a one-year prison sentence last week following a domestic violence charge for attacking his wife. The CCTV footage then emerged of the incident and it certainly made for pretty grim viewing. Haouas is set to appeal the sentence and will remain free until that process is complete. However, the tighthead has another court appearance, this time set for June 30, over a brawl which happened a decade ago. This comes after he was handed a suspended 18-month sentence in February 2022 following his involvement in a series of robberies in 2014. Scumbag is not a term we’ve ever used to describe a rugby player but it definitely applies to Haouas.

WRU’s Rhys Carre comments: Warren Gatland has always been a no-nonsense head coach and he places great importance on fitness, but his treatment of Carre, and the accompanying press release from the WRU, was pretty, well, brutal and bordering on nasty. It was not well received by the Wales supporters, while the loosehead has previously talked about his struggles with losing weight, to the point where it became an obsession. That is not a great place to be mentally and we hope he gets the support he needs after seeing his World Cup dream ended rather abruptly.

Low key ending for a Welsh legend? The great Alun Wyn Jones may have played his final professional game of rugby union when he turned out for both Swansea and the Barbarians during their clash on Wednesday. Jones then confirmed that he would not be playing for the Ospreys next season, which puts his future in significant doubt. Although the world record Test cap holder has kept the door open to featuring in the 2023/24 campaign, it could well be the end of his career, which in many ways is a huge shame. The 37-year-old is one of the best to have ever played the sport and he deserved a far better send off than the one he’s got. Going out without all the fanfare is perhaps what he would have wanted, given his self-effacing attitude, but the abrupt end to his international career – and potentially his playing days as a whole – doesn’t feel quite right.

One day to save London Irish: The Exiles received a stay of execution last Wednesday when the RFU agreed to extend the deadline for a protracted takeover by an American consortium to be completed. However, several days have passed since that announcement and no positive update has been forthcoming. They now have until 4pm tomorrow (Tuesday, June 6) or else another club could be expelled from the Premiership. It has been a sad, sad season for English rugby and our hearts go out to the London Irish supporters.

Harry Wilson’s referee comments: There is one thing saying something in the heat of the moment straight after the match but another to have all weekend to stew over an incident and still wrongly call into question the integrity of the match officials. Wilson claimed New Zealand referee Brendon Pickerill hurried the stricken Connor Vest off the field when the lock had broken his neck last weekend. As a result, he questioned Pickerill’s character and whether the official cared about player welfare. It was a serious accusation and one which SANZAAR unsurprisingly did not take too kindly to. They strongly refuted the allegations and quite rightly warned Wilson over his conduct.

Marcos Kremer: It is not the first card the Argentine has received and it almost certainly won’t be the last but, needless to say, the 25-year-old really needs to cut this type of ill-discipline out of his game. Not only does it cost his team but it is also quite frankly very dangerous for his opponents, with Finn Russell this time suffering a head injury after Kremer’s illegal counter ruck in the Parisian derby on Saturday. He is a great player but is prone to so many brain fades.

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