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Wales national rugby union team

Wales Union Welsh Rugby UnionEmblem(s) the Prince of Wales's feathersGround(s) Millennium Stadium, CardiffCoach  Warren GatlandCaptain Ryan JonesMost capsGareth Thomas(100) Top scorer Neil Jenkins(1049) Most tries Shane Williams(42)   Team colours
  Change colours
First international  England 30 – 0 Wales 
(19 February 1881) Largest win  Japan 0 – 98 Wales 
(26 November 2004) Worst defeat  South Africa 96 – 13 Wales 
(27 June 1998) World Cup Appearances 6/6 (First in 1987) Best result Third 1987

The Wales national rugby union team represent Wales in international rugby union tournaments. They compete annually in the Six Nations Championship with England, France, Ireland, Italy and Scotland. Wales have won the Six Nations and its predecessors 24 times, second only to England. Their most recent championship came in 2008. They also compete in the Rugby World Cup every four years. The International Rugby Board (IRB) regards Wales as a Tier One rugby nation, and ranks them sixth in the world as of 17 March 2008.[1]

The governing body, the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU), was established in 1881, the same year that Wales played their first international against England. Wales' performances in the Home Nations Championship (now the Six Nations) continued to improve, experiencing their first 'golden age' between 1900 and 1911. They first played New Zealand, known as the All Blacks, in 1905, when they defeated them 3–0 in a famous match at Cardiff Arms Park. Welsh rugby struggled between the first and second World Wars, but experienced a second 'golden age' between 1969 and 1982 when they won several Five Nations Grand Slams. They played in the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987 where they achieved their best ever result of third. Following the professionalisation of rugby in 1995, Wales hosted the 1999 World Cup and, in 2005, won their first-ever Six Nations Grand Slam.

Wales play in red jerseys embroidered with the Prince of Wales's feathers. Their current home ground is the Millennium Stadium, completed in 1999 to replace the National Stadium at Cardiff Arms Park. Ten former Welsh players have been inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame, and one of the ten has been inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame.



Rugby union took root in Wales in 1850, when Reverend Rowland Williams became Vice-Principal at St David's College, Lampeter, where he introduced the sport. The first Welsh club, Neath was formed in 1871. In 1881, Wales played their first informal international against England on 19 February; England won by seven goals, one drop goal and six tries to nil.

Early years (1850–1919)

Wales' 1905 team that defeated New Zealand.

On 12 March 1881, the Welsh Rugby Union was formed at The Castle Hotel, Neath.[2] Two years later, the Home Nation Championship was first played and Wales did not register a win.[3]

However, rugby union in Wales quickly developed and, by the 1890s, the Welsh had developed the four three-quarters formation. This formation—with seven backs and eight forwards, instead of six backs and nine forwards—revolutionised the sport and was eventually adopted almost universally at international and club level. With the "four three-quarter" formation Wales became Home International Champions for the first time in 1893; in the process winning the Triple Crown.[4] Wales next won the Championship in 1900, heralding the first 'golden age' of Welsh rugby which was to last until 1911.[5] They won two more Triple Crowns in 1902 and 1905, and were runners up in 1901, 1903 and 1904.[3]

A line-out in the Wales victory over New Zealand's Original All Blacks in 1905.

In late 1905, Wales played their first Test against opposition from outside the Home Nations when they faced New Zealand's All Blacks at Cardiff Arms Park. New Zealand, later known as the Original All Blacks, were undefeated on their tour of the British Isles, already defeating England, Ireland and Scotland in three Tests before facing Wales.[6] Before the match, the All Blacks' performed the haka (a Maori posture dance); the 47,000-strong crowd responded with the Welsh national anthem—Hen Wlad fy Nhadau ("Land of Our Fathers")—the first time a national anthem had been sung before a sporting fixture.[6] Wales' winger Teddy Morgan scored first to give Wales a 3–0 lead, but later in the match All Black Bob Deans claimed to have scored a try, only to be dragged behind the line before the referee could arrive. The referee ruled a scrum to Wales and the score did not change; Wales winning 3–0.[7] The loss was the All Blacks' only loss on their 35-match tour.

In 1906, Wales again won the Home Championship,[3], later that year playing the South African national side, the Springboks for the first time. Wales were expected to defeat the South Africans but instead South Africa dominated in the forwards and eventually won 11–0.[8][9] Two years later, on 12 December 1908, Wales played her first match against Australia's national side, the Wallabies), defeating them 9–6.[10]

In 1909, Wales won the Home Championship and then, in 1910, the first-ever Five Nations (which now included France as the fifth nation). In 1911, Wales took the first official Grand Slam by winning all their matches in the Five Nations; it would be nearly forty years before they took it again.[3] England's defeat of Wales at Cardiff in 1913 was Wales' first home loss to one of the Home Nations since 1899 (and the first loss at home to England since 1895).[11] The Great War came in 1914 and rugby was suspended for the duration.

Post-war years (1920–1968)

Ireland versus Wales. (1920s illustration)

The post-First World War years marked a decline in Welsh rugby. The worst period was during the 1920s when the team's lacklustre performance seemed to mirror the industrial recession, which hit South Wales particularly hard. Of the 42 matches played, only 17 were won and three drawn.[12] The depression resulted in around half-a-million people leaving Wales to find work elsewhere,[13], including many Welsh rugby union internationals who moved to rugby league.[14] Between 1923 and 1928, Wales managed only seven victories — five of them against France. However, even France managed to defeat Wales that decade; achieving their first victory over Wales in 1928.[15] Welsh selection policy reflected the upheavals of the mid-1920s. In 1924, 35 different players were selected for Wales' four matches, with a different captain for each; only one person, Charlie Pugh, played in all four matches.[12]

Starting An Attack: painting of the England versus Wales rugby match at Twickenham in 1931.

A resurgence of both economy and rugby union followed in the 1930s and, in 1931, Wales won their first championship for nine years. That year, for the first time since the First World War, Wales retained the same side for two consecutive Tests when they faced England and Scotland.[16] Then, in 1933, captained by Watcyn Thomas, Wales defeated England at Twickenham for the first time.[17] In 1935, Wales beat the touring All Blacks by 13–12, with Haydn Tanner making his first appearance. Although the Five Nations Championship was suspended during the Second World War,[18] Wales did play a Red Cross charity match against England at Cardiff in 1940, which Wales lost 18–9[19]

Following the Second World War, Wales played a New Zealand Army team (the Kiwis) in 1946, which Wales lost 11–3.[20] The Five Nations (suspended during the war) resumed in 1947 when Wales shared the title with England. Although Wales suffered their first home defeat to France in 1948,[21] they won their first Five Nations Grand Slam since 1911 in 1950. The next year, they lost to the touring South Africans 6–3 despite dominating in the line-outs.[22] They achieved another Grand Slam in 1952, followed by a 13–8 win over the All Blacks in 1953. In 1954, St Helens in Swansea (the Welsh international venue since 1885) hosted its last international and Cardiff Arms Park officially became the home of the Welsh team.[23] In 1956, Wales again won the Five Nations, but they would not regain the title until 1964 and would not win it outright until 1965.

Wales conducted their first overseas tour in 1964, playing several games and one Test in South Africa.[24] They lost the Test against South Africa in Durban 24–3, their biggest defeat in 40 years.[25] At the WRU annual general meeting that year, the outgoing WRU President D. Ewart Davies declared that "it was evident from the experience of the South African Tour that a much more positive attitude to the game was required in Wales... Players must be prepared to learn, and indeed re-learn, to the absolute point of mastery, the basic principles of Rugby Union football."[24] This started the coaching revolution. The WRU Coaching Committee—set up in the late 1950s—was given the task of improving the quality of coaching and, in January 1967, Ray Williams was appointed Coaching Organiser.[26] The first national coach, David Nash, was appointed in 1967 to coach Wales for the season, but resigned when the WRU refused to allow him to accompany Wales on their 1968 tour of Argentina.[27] Eventually, the WRU reversed their decision, appointing Clive Rowlands to tour as coach. Of the six matches, Wales won three, drew two and lost one.[28]

Second 'golden age' (1969–1982)

When Wales defeated England in the 1969 Five Nations to win the Triple Crown and the championship, it ushered in the second 'golden age'. Wales toured New Zealand for the first time that year, but were defeated in both Tests. As well as losing the first Test 19–0, and the second 33–12,[29] they also conceded 24 points to the All Blacks' fullback Fergie McCormick in the second Test; a record at the time.[30]

In 1970, Wales shared the Five Nations with France, and recorded a 6–6 draw against South Africa in Cardiff.[31] In 1971, Wales recorded their first Five Nations Grand Slam since 1952. Using only 16 players in four games, the 1971 side is considered one of the greatest in Welsh rugby history.[32][33] Their most notable victory of the tournament was their victory over Scotland.[34] After a last minute try by Gerald Davies to reduce Scotland's lead to 18–17, flanker John Taylor kicked a conversion from the sideline described as "the greatest conversion since St John" to give Wales a 19–18 win.[33] Wales contributed more players than any other team to the British and Irish Lions that toured New Zealand that year. Those Lions became the first and only to win a series over the All Blacks.[35]

In the 1972 Five Nations Championship, Wales and Scotland refused to travel to Dublin at the height of the Troubles after receiving threats, purportedly from the IRA.[36] The Championship remained unresolved with Wales and Ireland unbeaten. Although the Five Nations was a five way tie in 1973, the Welsh did defeat Australia 24–0 in Cardiff.[37]

Wales next won the Five Nations outright in 1975, after sharing it with the four other countries in 1973. In 1976, Wales won their second Grand slam of the decade. Just like the first in 1971, they only used 16 players over their four matches. They repeated the feat in 1978 and, in the process, became the first team to win three consecutive Triple Crowns. Following their final Five Nations match of 1978, both Phil Bennett and Gareth Edwards retired from rugby.[33] Later that year, Wales played the All Blacks at Cardiff Arms Park, losing 13–12 after a late penalty goal by the replacement All Black fullback, Brian McKechnie.[38] The penalty was controversial because All Black lock Andy Haden had dived out of a line-out in an attempt to earn a penalty. Haden admitted in November 1989—on the eve of that year's Wales match against New Zealand at Cardiff Arms Park—that he and Frank Oliver had pre-agreed this foul tactic should the All Blacks find themselves in difficulties. Although the incident looks obvious from the videotape (and referee Roger Quittenton was roasted by the press for failing to notice it), at the time the only journalist to comment was Clem Thomas. Visibility was not ideal but Quittenton later claimed (with mixed success) that he had actually given the penalty against Welsh lock Geoff Wheel for jumping off the shoulder of Frank Oliver. Whom one believes tends to reflect whom one supports though Welsh fans claim a moral victory that day. Haden later admitted that he was both surprised and delighted that his ploy worked.[39] The All Blacks went on to secure their first Home Nations Grand Slam.[40]

Wales won the 1979 Five Nations with a Triple Crown and, in 1980, celebrated the WRU's centenary year by facing the All Blacks in Cardiff.[41] Wales lost the match by 23–3 after the All Blacks scored four tries to nil.[42]

The curtain was brought down on Wales' second 'Golden Age' when unfancied Scotland travelled to Cardiff and, in the last match of the 1982 championship on 20 March 1982, inflicted an 18-34 defeat on the 'Dragons'. It was the most points Wales had ever conceded at home.

Modern era (1983–present)

Wales won two matches in each of the 1983 and 1984 Five Nations,[3] and in 1983 were nearly upset by Japan; winning by 24–29 at Cardiff in 1983.[43] Australia defeated Wales 28–9 at Cardiff Arms Park. This was the most points scored against Wales at Cardiff by a team from outside the Five Nations, and the first time they conceded a push-over try there; Australia went on to win their first Grand Slam.[44]

Wales were still respected by the time of the first official Rugby World Cup in 1987. After defeating England in the quarter-finals, Wales faced hosts the All Blacks. Although the All Blacks won 49–6, Wales managed to beat Australia in the third place play-off game to claim third.[45] The next year Wales won the Triple Crown for the first time since 1979, but heavy defeats on tour to New Zealand later that year saw the end of a number of Welsh players' careers, as many converted to rugby league.[41]

In 1990, Wales suffered their first Five Nations championship whitewash and, in 1991 narrowly avoided the same fate by earning one point for a draw with Ireland at Cardiff Arms Park. In the 1991 World Cup, Wales lost their first group phase game against Manu Samoa. They subsequently beat Argentina's Pumas but lost heavily to eventual champions Australia and were thus knocked out before reaching the quarter-finals.[46] After winning two Five Nations games in 1992, and one in 1993, Wales won the Championship in 1994.[3][47] After again not qualifying for the World Cup quarter-finals in 1995,[48] Kevin Bowring became Wales' first professional coach when he replaced Alex Evans that year.

Wales' performances improved with the appointment of coach Graham Henry in 1998, and the return of several internationals from rugby league. Henry coached Wales to a record run of ten consecutive victories,[49] including Wales' first ever victory over the then-world champions, South Africa, by 29–19 in the opening match of the Millennium Stadium, and was nicknamed "the great redeemer" by the Welsh media.[50] Hosting the 1999 World Cup, Wales qualified for the quarter-finals for the first time since 1987, but lost 9–24 to eventual champions Australia.[51] Defeats to Argentina and Ireland in 2001 and 2002 led to Henry's resignation in February 2002; his assistant Steve Hansen took over.[49] Further defeats led to perhaps Wales' biggest ever shake-up in 2003. At the 2003 World Cup, Wales scored four tries in their 53–37 loss to New Zealand and also lost (28–17) to the eventual tournament winners, England, in their quarter-final.[52]

Michael Owen takes a line-out

Coached by Mike Ruddock, Wales won their first Six Nations Grand Slam in 2005. They opened with an 11–9 win over England at the Millennium Stadium, thanks to a late long range penalty from Gavin Henson. After a win over Italy, Wales faced France, and were losing 15–6 at half-time. Wales fought back in the second half to win 24–18, and the game was named the best of the tournament.[citation needed] Wales beat Scotland away (46–22) and then, in front of a capacity crowd at the Millennium Stadium, played their final game against Ireland. Wales' 32–20 victory gave them their first championship title since 1994 and their first Grand Slam since 1978.[53] The 41–3 loss to the All Blacks at the Millennium Stadium later that year was their biggest loss on Welsh soil.[54] This was followed by a single-point win over Fiji, then a loss to South Africa, and lastly a win over Australia.[55]

On 14 February 2006, midway through the Six Nations, Mike Ruddock resigned as the head coach of Wales, for family reasons.[56] Scott Johnson took over as caretaker coach for the remaining games, and Wales eventually finished fifth in the 2006 Championship before Gareth Jenkins was appointed as head coach on 27 April.[57] On 10 May 2007, Wales and Australia decided to celebrate 100 years of Test rugby between the two countries with the establishment of the James Bevan Trophy.[58] It is named after the Australian-born Welsh-raised man who was Welsh team's first captain; Australia won the series 2–0.

At the 2007 World Cup, Wales failed to reach the quarter-finals after being knocked out in the pool stages. This time, Fiji defeated Wales in their final pool match after they had already lost to Australia.[59] Subsequently, Gareth Jenkins lost his job.[60] On 8 October that year, the WRU and South African Rugby Union established the Prince William Trophy to commemorate 100 years of rugby between Wales and South Africa.

Warren Gatland, a New Zealander and former All Black, was appointed as Wales' new head coach on 9 November 2007. He had previously been the head coach of Waikato, leading them to success in the 2006 Air New Zealand Cup. Gatland took up the position on 1 December.[61] His first match as coach was Wales' first match in the 2008 Six Nations Championship, against England at Twickenham on 2 February 2008. England, finalists in the 2007 Rugby World Cup, were favourites and led by 13 points at half-time, before Wales fought back to record a 26–19 win, their first at Twickenham since 1988. Wales' next two matches were at home to Scotland and Italy, which Wales won 30–15 and 47–8 respectively. Wales went on to clinch the Triple Crown beating Ireland 12–16 in Dublin and in the final game of the championship, Wales sealed their second Six Nations Grand Slam in four championships by beating France 29–12 at the Millennium Stadium. Wales conceded only two tries in the entire tournament, halving the previous record of four tries conceded by England in both 2002 and 2003.[62]


Wales in their alternative strip.

Wales play in red jerseys (embroidered with the Prince of Wales's feathers), white shorts, and red socks. Their change strip (also known as alternative strip)[63] is steel-coloured. The strip is made by Reebok and sponsored by Cardiff brewery SA Brain.[64] Due to a ban on advertising alcohol, when the team plays in France, the "Brains" logo has been replaced by "Brawn" (in 2005) and "Brawn Again" (in 2007) in a type style essentially identical to the Brains logo.[65] For the Rugby World Cup, however, the jersey is only allowed the national union's emblem, the Rugby World Cup logo, and the logo of the jersey's manufacturer on it.

The Prince of Wales' feathers were chosen in the 19th century by the WRU over another Welsh symbol, the leek to demonstrate the principality's loyalty to Britain.[66] In 1991, to enable the device to be patented, the original generic motif was replaced with a more stylised version. The original motto beneath the feathers was Ich dien (German for "I serve") but was replaced with WRU in the new version.[67]

Wales wore black jerseys as part of celebrations for the WRU's 125th anniversary in 2005. The jersey was worn against Fiji and then Australia that year; the Australia match was the first time Wales had not played in their red jersey against one of their traditional rivals.[68]


Main article: Rugby union in Wales

Rugby union and Wales' national team hold an important place in Welsh culture and society. Sport historian John Bale has stated that "rugby is characteristically Welsh", and David Andrew said that "To the popular consciousness, rugby is as Welsh as coal mining, male voice choirs, 'How Green Was My Valley,' Dylan Thomas, and Tom Jones".[69] Welsh rugby's first 'golden age' (1910–1911) coincided with the country's zenith during the 20th century,[70] and rugby was important in building Wales' modern identity.[71]

The 2004-2005 season saw record attendances for Welsh home internationals.[72] For Wales' 2005 Six Nations match against Scotland in Edinburgh, 40,000 Welsh fans travelled to see the game.[73] The home attendance record was bettered the next year when over 500,000 fans attended Wales' seven home matches.[74] The Millennium Stadium regularly sells out all of its 74,500 seats.


Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, where Wales play all their home games.

Wales' first home international was played at St Helen's ground, Swansea.[75] The ground continued to be used as an international venue until 1954, when Cardiff Arms Park became Wales' primary home venue.[76][77] Cardiff Arms Park had first had a stand erected in 1881, and continued to expand its seating that decade.[78] Crowds continued to grow and in 1902 in Wales' match against Scotland a world record 40,000 spectators paid to see the match.[79] In 1911, the owners of the Arms Park, the Marquess of Bute's family,[80] confirmed Wales' tenure and the 1920s and 1930s, Wales gradually gained increasing control.[81] A new stand was built at the park in the 1933-34 season, which increased the grounds capacity to 56,000.[82] By 1958, the WRU had concluded that a new national ground was needed due to flooding that often plagued Arms Park.[83] After debate and disputes between the WRU and various other parties, including Cardiff RFC, in the 1960s, it was decided that a new national stadium would be built with a new ground for the Cardiff club backing onto it.[84] The new National Stadium, as it was known, was officially opened in 1970.[85]

Currently, Wales play all their home matches at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, which is also Wales' national stadium. The Millennium Stadium has a capacity of 74,500,[86] and is the largest stadium in Wales, as well as the fourth-most capacious in the entire United Kingdom, behind Wembley, Twickenham and Old Trafford. The Millennium Stadium was first conceived in 1994, when a group redevelopment committee was set up. It was decided to replace the National Stadium at Cardiff Arms Park after a review found it was out of date; new legislation also required stadia to be all seated.[87] Construction began in September 1997, and was completed by June 1999, in time for the Rugby World Cup. The construction cost the WRU £126 million, which was funded by private investment, £46 million of public funds from the National Lottery, the sale of debentures to supporters (which offered guaranteed tickets in exchange for an interest-free loan), and loans.[88]


Six Nations

Wales' only annual tournament is the Six Nations Championship, which is played against five other European nations: England, France, Ireland, Italy, and Scotland. The Six Nations started as the Home Nations Championship in 1883, as a contest between the four component nations of the United Kingdom. Wales first won it in 1893, when they achieved a Triple Crown.[4] Wales have won the tournament outright 23 times, and shared ten other victories. Their longest wait between championships was 11 years (1994–2005). Wales first won a Five Nations Grand Slam in 1911,[3] and their first Six Nations Grand Slam in 2005. Their latest Grand Slam was won against France on 15 March 2008.

Wales Tournaments 107 77 107 9 107 107 Outright Wins (Shared Wins) 25 (10) 16 (7) 10 (8) 0 (0) 14 (8) 24 (11) Grand Slams 12 8 1 0 3 10 Triple Crowns 23 N/A 9 N/A 10 20

World Cup

Wales have contested every Rugby World Cup since the inaugural tournament in 1987. The 1987 tournament was Wales' most successful; they won all three pool matches and their quarter-final, before losing to the All Blacks in the semi-finals. They then faced Australia in the third place play-off match, which they won 22–21.[45] In the next two tournaments in 1991 and 1995, Wales failed to progress beyond the pool stage, winning just one match in each tournament.[89] Both the 1999 and 2003 tournaments were more successful, with Wales qualifying for the quarter-finals both times. Wales hosted the event in 1999 and topped their pool only to lose to eventual winners Australia in the quarter-finals.[51] In 2003, they finished second in their pool to the All Blacks and faced England in the quarter-finals, where they lost to the eventual champions, despite scoring more tries than their opponents.[52] In the 2007 World Cup, Wales again failed to progress from the pool stage. After a loss to Australia, and two wins against Japan and Canada, they lost by four points to Fiji, despite scoring more tries than their opponents.[59]


Wales' world ranking from 10 October 2003 to 5 November 2007.

Wales have won 302 of their 586 Test matches, a win percentage of 51.54 (see table). When the IRB World Rankings were introduced in October 2003, Wales were ranked eighth. They rose to seventh in June 2004, before falling back to eighth in November that year. During the 2005 Six Nations Championship, they rose to their highest ranking position; fifth. They fell to ninth by June 2006, and, after rising back to eighth by September, fell to tenth after the 2007 World Cup.[1] Then after a grand slam in the 2008 Six Nations, they moved up to sixth in the IRB World Rankings. They are still currently sixth.

Their Test record against all nations:[90]

Against Played Won Lost Drawn Win %  Argentina13 7 5 1 53.84  Australia26 9 16 1 34.52  Barbarians7 2 5 0 28.57  Canada10 9 1 0 90.00  East Africa 1 1 0 0 100.00  England117 52 53 12 44.44  Fiji7 6 1 0 85.71  France85 43 39 3 50.59  Ireland112 61 45 6 54.46  Italy14 11 2 1 78.57  Japan10 10 0 0 100.00  Namibia3 3 0 0 100.00  New Zealand23 3 20 0 13.04  New Zealand Māori1 1 0 0 100.00  Pacific Islanders1 1 0 0 100.00  Portugal1 1 0 0 100.00  Romania9 7 2 0 72.72  Samoa6 3 3 0 50.00  Scotland113 62 48 3 54.87  South Africa211 19 1 4.76  Spain1 1 0 0 100.00  Tonga7 7 0 0 100.00  United States7 7 0 0 100.00  Zimbabwe3 3 0 0 100.00 Total 586 302 257 27 51.54


Current squad

On 14 May 2008, Warren Gatland named a 27-man squad for Wales' 2008 mid-year rugby test series in South Africa.[91] A number of players had ruled themselves out of contention for the tour for various reasons before Gatland named his final squad, while scrum-half Andy Williams pulled out with a back injury on 25 May 2008. This left Wales with just two fit recognised scrum-halves in the squad, though Shane Williams could be deployed in that position if required. Hooker Huw Bennett also pulled out of the tour after damaging ankle ligaments in Shane Williams' testimonial, meaning that a call-up could be given to Bennett's fellow Osprey, Richard Hibbard, in order to provide cover for Matthew Rees.[92] On 4 June 2008, lock Bradley Davies was withdrawn from the squad with ankle ligament damage. He was replaced by Luke Charteris of the Newport Gwent Dragons.[93]

Backs Player Position Club Gareth CooperScrum-halfGloucesterWarren FuryScrum-halfLondon IrishJames HookFly-halfOspreysStephen JonesFly-halfLlanelli ScarletsAndrew BishopCentreOspreysSonny ParkerCentreOspreysTom ShanklinCentreCardiff BluesTom JamesWingCardiff BluesMark JonesWingLlanelli ScarletsShane WilliamsWingOspreysJamie RobertsFullbackCardiff BluesMorgan StoddartFullbackLlanelli ScarletsForwards Player Position Club Gethin JenkinsPropCardiff BluesDuncan JonesPropOspreysAdam JonesPropOspreysRhys ThomasPropNewport Gwent DragonsMatthew ReesHookerLlanelli ScarletsLuke CharterisLockNewport Gwent DragonsIan EvansLockOspreysIan GoughLockOspreysAlun Wyn JonesLockOspreysDafydd JonesFlankerLlanelli ScarletsJonathan ThomasFlankerOspreysGareth DelveNumber eightGloucesterRyan Jones(c) Number eightOspreys

Notable players

See also Category:Welsh rugby union footballers
International Rugby Hall of Fame inductee Gwyn Nicholls who played 24 Tests for Wales between 1896 and 1906.

Ten former Welsh internationals have been inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame.

Known as the Prince of three-quarters, Gwyn Nicholls played 24 Tests for Wales at centre between 1896 and 1906.[94] He was the only Welsh player in the British Isles team of 1899, and was the star for Wales during their first golden era. Not only did he captain Wales to three Triple Crowns, but also led them to their famous victory over the All Blacks in 1905.[95] On 26 December 1949, gates bearing his name at Cardiff Arms Park were officially opened.[96]

Named the greatest Welsh player of the 1950s by the WRU, Cliff Morgan played 29 Tests for Wales,[97] and four for the British Lions between 1951 and 1958.[98] Morgan played at fly-half and was one of the sport's biggest crowd-pullers during his career.[99] He played during Wales Five Nations Grand Slam of 1952, and Wales' victory over the All Blacks in 1953, but he is most famous for captaining the British Lions in South Africa in 1955.[100] One of Morgan's great friends was Carwyn James.[101] Although most notable for his coaching record, James appeared for Wales in two Tests in 1958. He coached the British Lions to their first and only series victory over New Zealand in 1971, with a team including many Welsh players.[102] He also coached Welsh club Llanelli, and the Barbarians side that defeated the All Blacks in 1973. Despite this, he never coached Wales.[103]

When Wales faced Australia on 3 December 1966, two future Rugby Hall of Fame members made their Test debuts; Gerald Davies and Barry John. Davies played 46 Tests for Wales between 1966 and 1978. Although he started out playing in the centre, he was moved to the wing during Wales' 1969 tour of New Zealand and Australia,[104] and eventually scored 20 Test tries for Wales. Davies also played for the Lions during their 1968 tour of South Africa and 1971 tour of New Zealand.[105] Although Barry John first played for Wales in 1966, he did not secure his spot in the team until 1968.[106] Playing at fly-half, John helped Wales to a Five Nations Grand Slam in 1971, and then the Lions to their one and only series win over the All Blacks that same year. He picked up the nickname The King in New Zealand, and in 1972 quit the sport due to the pressure his fame was causing.[107]

Widely regarded as the greatest rugby union player of all time, Gareth Edwards played 53 Tests for Wales at scrum-half between 1967 and 1978.[108][109] Edwards was never dropped from the team and played all 53 of his Tests consecutively. He also played in three Lions tours; including the series victories in New Zealand in 1971, and the unbeaten tour of South Africa in 1974.[110] Edwards won five Triple Crowns with Wales and three Five Nations Grand Slams. He also scored a try for the Barbarians against the All Blacks in 1973, remembered as that try and considered the greatest ever try.[109] In 2003, Edwards was voted the greatest player of all time by Rugby World magazine.[111][112] In 2007, Edwards earned an additional honour with his induction into the IRB Hall of Fame.[113]

In 1969, three Hall of Fame members debuted for Wales; Phil Bennett, Mervyn Davies, and JPR Williams. Bennett played 29 Tests for Wales. He started out playing at fullback, but after Barry John retired, he was moved to fly-half. As well as representing Wales, he played eight Tests for the Lions and captained them on their 1977 tour of New Zealand.[114] Mervyn Davies was known as Merve the Swerve and played 38 consecutive Tests for Wales between 1969 and 1976, losing only eight of them.[115] After captaining Wales in his last nine appearances, Davies was forced to retire due to a brain haemorrhage.[116] JPR Williams played 55 Tests for Wales between 1969 and 1981. Whilst doing so, he won six Triple Crowns, three Five Nations Grand Slams, and captained Wales for five Tests in 1979.[117] Playing at full-back, he also toured with the Lions in 1971 and 1974, before retiring temporarily in 1980. He made a brief comeback, however, in 1981, when he played his final match, against Scotland.[118]

Ieuan Evans played for Wales between 1987 and 1998, and in the process earned 72 Welsh caps whilst Wales was transcending the amateur and professional eras. Playing mainly on the wing, Evans scored 33 tries for Wales, a record until surpassed by Gareth Thomas in 2004.[119] As well as that, he was awarded seven Lions caps from the 1989, 1993 and 1997 tours.[120][121]

Individual records

Welsh forward Colin Charvis who has scored more Test tries than any other forward in rugby union history.

Former fly-half Neil Jenkins was the first rugby player to surpass 1000 Test points. He holds the world record for most penalties with 248, and Welsh record for most points in a single Test match with 30.[122][123] Wales' record try scorer is Shane Williams, who has scored a total of 41 Test tries for Wales.[124] The record was, until 2008, held by Gareth Thomas, who is also the nation's most capped player with 100 Test caps.[119][125] The Welsh record for tries by a forward, which is also the world record, is held by Colin Charvis with 22. Charvis is also Wales' most-capped forward, having played in 94 Tests, but the record for most consecutive appearances is held by Gareth Edwards who played all 53 of his Tests for Wales consecutively between 1967 and 1978.[122]


Following the unsuccessful tour to South Africa in 1964, the WRU set up a working party on coaching. The party recommended that Welsh clubs accept the principle of coaching. David Nash was appointed as the national team's first coach in 1967, but for the 1968 tour of Argentina, the WRU initially planned not to have a coach tour with the team. Following pressure from the Welsh clubs at the WRU's annual general meeting, the decision was reversed and Clive Rowlands was appointed as coach for the tour. The appointing of a coach for the team coincided with Wales' success in the Five Nations during the 1970s.[26]

List of head coaches:[126]

Name Nationality Years Tests Won Drew Lost Win % David Nash1967 5 1 1 3 20.0 Clive Rowlands1968–1974 29 18 4 7 62.1 John Dawes1974–1979 24 18 0 6 75.0 John Lloyd1980–1982 14 6 0 8 42.9 John Bevan1982–1985 15 7 1 7 46.7 Tony Gray 1985–1988 18 9 0 9 50.0 John Ryan 1988–1990 9 2 0 7 22.2 Ron Waldron1990–1991 10 2 1 7 20.0 Alan Davies1991–1995 35 18 0 17 51.4 Alex Evans1995 (caretaker coach) 4 1 0 3 25.0 Kevin Bowring1995–1997 29 15 0 14 51.7 Dennis John1998 (caretaker coach) 2 1 0 1 50.0 Graham Henry1998–2002 34 20 1 13 58.8 Lynn Howells2001 (caretaker coach) 2 2 0 0 100.0 Steve Hansen2002–2004 29 10 0 19 34.5 Mike Ruddock2004–2006 20 13 0 7 65.0 Scott Johnson2006 (caretaker coach) 3 0 1 2 0.0 Gareth Jenkins[127]2006–2007 20 6 1 13 30.0 Nigel Davies2007 (caretaker coach) 1 0 0 1 0.0 Warren Gatland2007– 6 5 0 1 83.3

See also

Wales Portal
Rugby union Portal


Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Wales national rugby union team
  • Andrews, David (1991). "Welsh Indigenous! and British Imperial?—Welsh Rugby, Culture, and Society 1890–1914". Journal of Sport History 18 (3): 335-349. 
  • Dine, Philip (2001). French Rugby Football - Cultural History. Berg. ISBN 1859733271
  • Harris, John (2007). "Cool Cymru, rugby union and an imagined community". International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy 27 (3/4): 151-162. doi:10.1108/01443330710741084
  • McLean, Terry (1969). Red Dragons of Welsh Rugby. Wellington: A. H. & A. W. REED. ISBN 0589-00395-x
  • Morgan, Gareth (May 2005). "Rugby and Revivalism: Sport and Religion in Edwardian Wales". The International Journal of the History of Sport 22 (3): 434-456. doi:10.1080/09523360500064057
  • Potter, Alex (1961). The Rise of French Rugby. Wellington: A. H. & A. W. REED. 
  • Palenski, Ron (2003). Century in Black - 100 Years of All Black Test Rugby. Hodder Moa Beckett Publishers Limited. ISBN 1-86958-937-8
  • Richards, Huw (2006). A Game for Hooligans. Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 1-84596-016-5
  • Ryan, Greg (2005). The Contest for Rugby Supremacy - Accounting for the 1905 All Blacks. Canterbury University Press. ISBN 1-877257-36-2
  • Smith, David; Williams, Gareth (1980). Fields of Praise: The Official History of The Welsh Rugby Union. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. ISBN 0-7083-0766-3


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