Leigh Halfpenny

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Leigh Halfpenny
Leigh Halfpenny. cropped.jpg
Full name Stephen Leigh Halfpenny
Date of birth (1988-12-22) 22 December 1988 (age 25)
Place of birth Gorseinon, Wales
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Weight 85 kg (13 st 5 lb)
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Fullback, Wing
Professional / senior clubs
Years Club / team Caps (points)
2008– Cardiff Blues 87 (568)
correct as of 1 February 2014.
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
2007–08
2008–
2009, 2013
WalesU20
Wales
British and Irish Lions
 ?
52
3
(0)
(395)
(49)
correct as of 9 March 2014.

Stephen Leigh Halfpenny (born 22 December 1988) is a Welsh international rugby union player. He was a player for the Cardiff Blues in the Pro12 before he signed to play for Toulon in 2014.

Early Life[edit]

Halfpenny is from Gorseinon, near Swansea. He attended Pontybrenin Primary School and Penyrheol Comprehensive School.[1][2]

Early career[edit]

A winger or fullback, he was signed as a youth by the Neath Swansea Ospreys and played the 2005–06 season with the Ospreys U18s. Halfpenny then trained with Neath RFC during the 2006–07 season,[3] before signing for the Cardiff Blues and making his debut against Ulster at the Ravenhill Stadium in May 2008, scoring three conversions in the 17–26 victory.[4]

Club career[edit]

On 18 April 2009, Halfpenny scored two tries for the Cardiff Blues in the final of the EDF Energy Cup, a 50–12 win over Gloucester at Twickenham.[5] In January 2014 Halfpenny announced that he would be leaving the Blues at the end of the 2013–14 Season after signing a two year deal with French giants Toulon. He did not get to complete the 2013/14 season due to receiving a dislocated shoulder in the RBS 6 Nations match against England. Thus his final match with the Blues was against Exeter Chiefs on 18 January, where the Blues lost 13-19. Halfpenny contributed a conversion and two penalties to the game. [6]

International career[edit]

2008–09[edit]

As a former Wales Under 20 international, he was selected in October 2008 for the Wales national rugby union team squad for the 2008 Autumn internationals series.[7] Halfpenny made his debut for Wales aged 19 in their first game of the autumn internationals against world champions, South Africa on 8 November 2008. He scored his first points for Wales from a penalty kick in the 15–20 loss. He went on to score his first two tries on his second cap against Canada on 14 November.

He was chosen as a starting number 14 for Wales's 2009 Six Nations game against Scotland, on 8 February, and again on 14 February, against rivals England. He scored a try in each match and kicked a penalty against England to add to that. His points proved to be the difference between the two teams. He then played against France in a match that Wales lost 21–16 in Saint-Denis. Warren Gatland then dropped Halfpenny for the 20–15 win over Italy, as Warren Gatland experimented with winger Mark Jones.

On 22 April 2009, Halfpenny was included in the British & Irish Lions squad for the tour to South Africa in May 2009.[8] On the 20 May it was announced that he would miss the start of the Lions tour due to a thigh injury, requiring at least 10–14 days treatment, but he was scheduled once fully fit to rejoin Ian McGeechan's squad in South Africa.[9] He was confirmed to have linked up with the Lions squad, fully recovered, in South Africa on 2 June [10] and played in the tour match against Free State Cheetahs on 6 June.[11] However, on 10 June it was confirmed that Halfpenny had withdrawn from the Lions squad due to a recurrence of the thigh injury.[12]

2010–11[edit]

Halfpenny was a key part of the Wales squad for the following two campaigns but he was constantly plagued by injury.[citation needed] Coach Warren Gatland had faith in Halfpenny, and the Blues winger did enough to force his way into the squad for the 2011 World Cup. During the World Cup, Halfpenny impressed in many positions, particularly at full-back. It was also in this game that Halfpenny became first choice kicker, ahead of fly halves Rhys Priestland and James Hook. In the semi final against France, Halfpenny attempted a 47 yard penalty that would have taken Wales to the final. However, the kick fell inches short.

2012–[edit]

During the 2012 Six Nations, Halfpenny cemented his place at fullback and became one of the standout players of the tournament, finishing as top point scorer of the tournament. Some of his points came at crucial points within the tournament. Down 21-20 to Ireland in the 80th minutes, Halfpenny sent a penalty over to give Wales a 23-21 win over the hosts, and subsequently completed another 4 penalties and a conversion as Wales toppled England. Then, in the final match against France, Wales got a 16-9 win, with Halfpenny converting three further penalties and a conversion.

In the final match of the 2012 Winter Test series against Australia, Halfpenny suffered a neck injury while attempting to stop the winning try. He was taken to hospital but was discharged the next day without any serious damage.[13] Regardless of the Australian try, Halfpenny had already earned the accolade of "Man of the Match".

In the first match of the 2013 Six Nations Championship, Halfpenny scored the 2nd try for Wales in their 22–30 loss to Ireland at the Millennium Stadium. The following week he earned the Man of the Match award when Wales beat France 6–16 in Paris. Again two weeks later in Rome when Wales beat Italy 9–26, he was made Man of the Match by the Italian broadcaster. With over 80,000 people voting between 15 shortlisted 2013 Six Nations players, Halfpenny was also awarded Player of the Tournament, securing 40% of the overall vote.[14]

Halfpenny was selected for the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour to Australia as one of three fullbacks touring along with Stuart Hogg and Rob Kearney.[15] Halfpenny played all three tests, winning player of the series, and breaking the Lions points record held by Neil Jenkins. He also broke the record for most points in one test [16]

In November 2013 Halfpenny was named in a shortlist of five players for the IRB Player of the Year.[17] In December 2013 Halfpenny was selected as BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year[18] and was runner-up for BBC Sports Personality of the Year to Andy Murray.

In March 2014, Halfpenny was ruled out for the rest of the season after he dislocated his right shoulder in the 29-18 defeat to England in the 2014 Six Nations Championship.[19]

Points record[edit]

Team Caps Tries Conversions Penalties Drop Goals Total Points
Cardiff Blues 74 21 25 85 0 410
Wales 44 12 18 66 0 294
British and Irish Lions Test Matches 3 0 5 13 0 49
Total 121 33 44 164 0 753

References[edit]

  1. ^ Walsh, David (3 May 2009). "Leigh Halfpenny: Lion's cub". timesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 9 October 2011. 
  2. ^ Jones, Paul (26 April 2009). "Back to school for our Leigh; Halfpenny is local hero". Sunday Mirror. Retrieved 9 October 2011. 
  3. ^ "Leigh Halfpenny". Welsh Rugby Union. Retrieved 4 November 2008. 
  4. ^ "Leigh Halfpenny". Cardiff Blues. Retrieved 4 November 2008. 
  5. ^ Standley, James (18 April 2009). "2009 EDF Energy Cup final". BBC Sport. Retrieved 21 May 2009. 
  6. ^ "2014 Cardiff Blues 13 Exeter Chiefs 19". Cardiff Blues. 18 January 2014. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  7. ^ "Cooper gets Wales nod over Peel". BBC Sport. 4 November 2009. Retrieved 4 November 2008. 
  8. ^ "Halfpenny's Lions pick 'deserved'". BBC Sport. 22 April 2009. Retrieved 21 May 2009. 
  9. ^ "Halfpenny to miss start of Lions". BBC Sport. 20 May 2009. Retrieved 21 May 2009. 
  10. ^ "Leigh Halfpenny joins up with British and Irish Lions". The Times. 2 June 2009. Retrieved 2 June 2009. 
  11. ^ Mairs, Gavin (5 June 2009). "Lions 2009: Leigh Halfpenny to make debut against Cheetahs". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  12. ^ "BBC Sport: Halfpenny ruled out of Lions tour". BBC News. 2009-06-10. Retrieved 2013-05-02. 
  13. ^ "Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny released from hospital after checks". bbc.co.uk. 2 December 2012. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  14. ^ "2013 Six Nations Player of Tournament". Bbc.co.uk. 1970-01-01. Retrieved 2013-05-02. 
  15. ^ Paul Rees (30 April 2013). "Jonny Wilkinson turned down Lions chance, says Warren Gatland". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  16. ^ Mike Dawes (6 July 2013). "Dead-eye Halfpenny breaks Lions points record held by Welsh mentor Jenkins and wins player of the series". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  17. ^ Halfpenny shortlisted for Player of the Year award
  18. ^ "Halfpenny Welsh Sports Personality of the Year". Bbc.co.uk. 2013-12-09. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  19. ^ "Halfpenny out for the season with shoulder injury". BBC Sport. 9 March 2014. Retrieved 10 March 2014. 

External links[edit]