Weekend Rugby Preview: Halfpenny, USA 7s, Top14, LV= Cup, Rugby Goggles and more

The vaunted Leigh Halfpenny and his boot.
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2013 USA 7s Cup Winners-South Africa
2013 USA 7s Cup Winners-South Africa

NEW YORK, NY – The weekend is here and there’s plenty of news and action to cover. With the 6 Nations around the corner, both the Aviva Premiership and RaboDirect Pro 12  are taking a break. That makes the  LV=Cup and the Top14 the focus for most of Europe. The main focus of World rugby this weekend will be the Las Vegas, USA 7s. There’s plenty of news to cover, so let’s get into the Weekend Rugby Preview.

Top14: The 23 players chosen for the French Squad will be unavailable for club selection this weekend as part of a new agreement between the FFR (Federation de French Rugby) and the LNR (Ligue de National Rugby). As he has done for every round in this season’s Top14, James Harrington has his preview of each match-up.

 LV= Cup: The Anglo-Welsh Cup is a test of depth for the 16 rugby sides that are in the tournament. A team’s reserves and young players need to come to the fore. Can or will these players do it is the question. This weekend sees Gloucester make the short trip south to Wales to face Scarlets. Northampton makes a similar trip to Wales to face the Newport-Gwent Dragons. Sale travels to Worcester to try and halt the Warrior’s new found momentum. Bath welcomes the Cardiff Blues, while Exeter takes on the Ospreys. The big match will see Harlequins face Leicester, while Wasps take on London Irish in a battle for London and Saracens welcome Newcastle to the Allianz Stadium.

Here’s this weekend’s schedule:
FRI – 24TH JAN 14
Scarlets – Gloucester
SAT – 25TH JAN 14
Sale Sharks – Worcester
Newport-Gwent Dragons – Northampton
Bath – Cardiff Blues
Exeter – Ospreys
Harlequins – Leicester
Wasps vs London Irish
SUN – 26TH JAN 14
Saracens – Newcastle

USA 7s: What happens in Vegas this weekend won’t stay in Vegas. The USA 7s will kickoff today and hopefully it will be as exciting as last year’s. Check out our tournament preview.

Penalty Kick:
Rugby GooglesRugby Goggles:The IRB released a statement on Wednesday approving goggles for Rugby. The statement said “The Rugby Goggles can be worn in all levels of Rugby. The new Rugby Goggles, which are available for purchase from today (Wednesday, January 22), have been developed to enable people who require corrective lenses to wear goggles that are safe to themselves, their team-mates and opponents. They will also allow people with monocular vision or chronic eye conditions who wish to wear Rugby Goggles while playing contact Rugby.
Features of the approved Rugby Goggles include high-speed impact resistance, anti-abrasion surfaces, anti-fogging, UV protection and a specially designed strap with no clips, buckles or sharp edges. Only those Rugby Goggles bearing the IRB trial-approved logo can be worn with referees empowered to make the necessary checks.
The global law trial means that anyone can wear the Rugby Goggles once confirmation has been received from an ophthalmologist (or similar medical professional) although Unions are required to participate in the trial before a player under its jurisdiction can participate in the trial.”

Injuries and Banning:The news from the physio’s office this week has Munster‘s Keith Earls out 8 weeks with a knee injury. Leicester duo Jordan Crane and Miles Benjamin are also out. Crane has hurt his AC joint in his shoulder and will be out for a 2 week minimum and Benjamin will be out until further notice. Also missing for 12 weeks will be OspreysIan Evans. Evans’ absence is a result of his stamp on Leinster‘s Mike McCarthy and the punishment handed out by the Citing Commission.

The much wanted Leigh Halfpenny and his vaunted boot.
The much wanted Leigh Halfpenny and his vaunted boot.

Signings/Player Moves:
In the transfer market, two big names are staying put while one is on the move. England and Wasps’ wing Christian Wade has extended his contract with the club. Also staying put is British and Irish Lion and Ireland Eightman, Jamie Heaslip. Heaslip re-signed with Leinster and joins Sean O’Brien who is also a B&I lion and Irish international who signed last week. This has fans euphoric as now two homegrown products are staying with the province.

The big name move made official this week is Leigh Halfpenny to Toulon. It has been rumored for a longtime and now it is official. Halfpenny will bring his boot and likely take over kicking duties when Sir Johnny Wilkinson retires. For a guy named Halfpenny, he will be getting the full pound with his salary rumored to be €350K a year.

That’s it for now… feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter @: RugbyWrapUp, Junoir Blaber, DJ Eberle, Nick Hall, James Harrington, Cody Kuxmann, Jaime Loyd and Declan Yeats, respectively.

And until the next time… stay low and keep pumping those legs.

About Junoir Blaber 868 Articles
Born in Osu, Accra, Ghana, West Africa, Junoir Blaber is a rare commodity; while most Ghanians eat, sleep and dream Soccer (football), Junoir is all about Rugby. A self-proclaimed Rugbyologist, he has been involved in Rugby as a ref, coach, administrator and player since Columbus discovered Ohio. His useful/trivial rugby knowledge qualify Blaber as RWU's Senior Correspondent & known in rugby circles as The Rugby Rain Man. He can also be found moonlighting for our American partners at MeetTheMatts.com.