Heroes and Zeros
Each week, Ruck analyses how the stars of Rugby Union have performed over the last seven days identifying who have been the fearless heroes and the ill-fated zeros.
Veteran Sean Lamont appears to be in superb shape following a fantastic display for Scotland this past weekend against Italy in which the wing scored two tries. The 34-year old executed everything he did flawlessly and in this sort of form he will be a treasured asset to Vern Cotter at the upcoming World Cup.
Did you know: Lamont attended Sheffield Hallam University where he studied Sports Science between 1999 and 2002.
Winger Waisake Naholo has been unexpectedly named in the All Blacks World Cup squad after having been initially ruled out of contention. The speedster suffered a broken leg on his Test debut against Argentina in The Rugby Championship last month. However, after returning to his native Fiji where he received traditional Fijian medicines he has spectacularly recovered in hero like fashion and is ready to play a part in the World Cup.
Did you know: Naholo also played for the New Zealand U20 side that defended its World U20 Championship crown in Italy in 2011.
Ireland captain Paul O’Connell made his Dublin farewell from Test rugby this past weekend, and although they were beaten, the towering figure was given a hero’s response as he left the field for the last time. He has since, rightly, been named as captain of the final 31-man squad for the World Cup
Did you know: He only started playing rugby at the age of 16.
After stating he had unfinished business in the Scotland jersey last week, John Barclay may have thought his place in Vern Cotter’s final 31-man World Cup squad was secured when he scored one of the six tries against Italy this past weekend. However, the second-row has been controversially left out along with Blair Cowan to give uncapped New Zealand-born John Hardie a heated World Cup call-up.
Did you know: Immediately after leaving school, while still only the age of 17, he was invited to train with the Scotland Squad by Matt Williams, who was the Scotland coach at the time.
Although Stuart Lancaster may have shed a tear over cutting Luther Burrell from his England squad it still left the centre as one of the obvious losers from the past week in rugby. Burrell was a mainstay in England’s midfield for the last two Six Nations campaigns. However, he has gone from a possible World Cup hero to a sit at home zero.
Did you know: He made his senior rugby union debut for Leeds Carnegie aged just 19.
Despite being without a few of their big players, the Azzurri’s massive defeat in Edinburgh was worrying for Jacques Brunel. They were turned over comfortably by six tries to one by a Scotland side that was left holding the Wooden Spoon after the Six Nations in the Spring. They next have a difficult trip to the Millennium Stadium to face Wales in Cardiff on September 5th, which will be an even tougher test.
Did you know: Italy has also competed at every Rugby World Cup since the first tournament in 1987 but have yet to progress beyond the first round.