Heroes and Zeros-10th August
Each week, Ruck.co.uk analyzes how the stars of Rugby Union have performed over the last week identifying who has been the fearless heroes and the ill-fated zeros.
Outcoaching New Zealand’s Steve Hansen to overcome the All Blacks and win The Rugby Championship makes Michael Cheika without a doubt one of the heroes of the week. The relatively muted celebrations of the Wallabies after the match also sent all the right signals. After years of mediocrity, it could now be time for Australia to re-emerge as one as the World’s most feared Rugby nations and Cheika is undoubtedly the foremost reason for this.
Ireland Captain James Heaslip broke his hero David Wallace’s record as the men in emerald greens most-capped back-row forward, winning his 73rd cap. It was the perfect day for the Skipper too as he opened the try scoring as Ireland romped to a 35-21 triumph over Wales in Cardiff.
Argentina wing Juan Imhoff scored a hat-trick of tries as they claimed a first ever victory against South Africa with a 37-25 success. As a result, the Pumas finished off the bottom of The Rugby Championship for the first time in their history. A mix of intelligent running and great finishing meant Imhoff was the standout performer as he touched down three tries in what was a fantastic display from the Pumas.
It has been great, but Chris Ashton’s England career is all but over. The Saracens box-office attraction was one of seven players cut by Stuart Lancaster. He will be missed but its hard not to argue he has been one of the zeros of the week following the announcement.
Jean de Villiers
Jean de Villiers would have expected a win against Argentina on his return to Test rugby. Instead, the Springbok Captain saw his team crash to an unexpected defeat to Argentina in Durban and now faces a fresh injury concern after breaking his jaw during the defeat. Not a good place to be in with the World Cup kicking off in just over a month. South Africa starts their campaign against Japan in Brighton on 19 September, before other Pool B games against Samoa, Scotland, and The USA.
After announcing how thrilled he was to be back in the Wales team, he didn’t do much to convince Warren Gatland he has what it takes to perform at the World Cup. The fly-half came off to be replaced by 24-year old Gareth Anscombe, who won his first cap and looked more controlled and confident. Cardiff Blues Anscombe has probably even snuck ahead of Hook in the race to back up Dan Biggar and Rhys Priestland at the upcoming World Cup.