Wales national rugby union team

From Academic Kids

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The Welsh rugby team, as the highest level of Welsh rugby, represent Wales at the nation's national sport of rugby union. They are sometimes known as The Dragons (not to be confused with the Newport Gwent Dragons, a regional Welsh rugby team).

Wales compete annually in the Six Nations Championship (which they have won 23 times outright) and in the World Cup every four years (best result so far: 3rd in 1987), which they also hosted in 1999. They also form a quarter of the British and Irish Lions.

Historically, Wales have been known as one of the best rugby teams, with the key players of their 1970s teams in particular being acknowledged as some of the best in the history of the game. Many poor results in the late 1980s and 1990s have hurt that reputation, but a resurgence in form in the 2000s have led to them being acknowledged as being competitive with the top teams once again.

The Welsh supporters have a reputation for being amongst the most fanatical in the rugby world, making the Millennium Stadium, the team's home ground, a particularly intimidating place.



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Wales play in scarlet jerseys carrying the Prince of Wales's feathers, white shorts, and red socks. The change strip is currently white.

As of 2005 the strip is made by Reebok and the shirt sponsor is the Cardiff brewery S A Brain.


The Early Years (1881 - 1919)

The Welsh Rugby Union was formed in 1881 in Glamorganshire, to organise a match between England and Wales. This match was played on February 19, 1881 and resulted in a win for the English, so much so that a return fixture the following year was refused by the Rugby Football Union of England.

However, rugby union in Wales quickly developed and by the turn of the century Wales was one of the most feared teams in international rugby, winning the (then) British Championship six times and finishing runners-up six times in its first twelve years. In 1911 Wales earned the first official Grand Slam by winning all their matches in the British Championship; unfortunately they would wait nearly forty years for a second.

Post War Years (1920 - 1969)

The post-World War I years saw a big change in Welsh rugby. A resurgence of both economy and rugby would follow as in 1931 Wales won their first championship for nine years and in 1933 beat England at Twickenham for the first time.

After a seven-year gap during the Second World War, Wales again suffered several uninspiring years before winning Grand Slams in 1950 and 1952, followed by another win over the touring All Blacks in 1953. It was during these years that the Cardiff Arms Park was officially adopted as the home of Welsh Rugby Union.

The 1960's was a dull decade in terms of results for Welsh rugby but perhaps was the most helpful to date as it started the way for success through a coaching revolution. Coaches were now selected and trained. A further moment in the 1960s was the debut of the promising Gareth Edwards against France in Paris on April 1, 1967; he would become Wales' youngest captain, at only 20 years old.

The Golden Age (1970 - 1987)

The Welsh team of the 1970s has gone down in history as quite possibly the best of all time. Great in the Northern Hemisphere and victors against touring Southern Hemisphere sides, the team's record speaks for itself. That great Welsh team included legends such as Barry John, Gareth Edwards and JPR Williams.

In 1982, Scotland finally ended Wales' record 27-match unbeaten run in the Five Nations Championship and over the next five years other countries began to catch up with Wales. Japan came close to an upset, losing by 24-29 at Cardiff in 1983.

Wales were still respected by the time of the first official Rugby World Cup which was held in 1987. A good win against rivals England in the quarterfinals saw Wales taking on tournament favourites, the All Blacks of New Zealand. Wales lost a close match but managed to beat the Australia side to claim third place.

The Modern Era (1990 - 2005)

The 1987 World Cup saw the end to a number of Welsh Rugby careers and also to the dominating era of the 1970s and 80s. A resurgence and refinancing of Rugby League in the North of England saw a record number of top players move into the professional game. Calls for rugby union to become professional had been ignored for a number of years previously and they would only get stronger as the 1990s grew on and the defections continued.

Indeed, the 90s were Wales' darkest period so far in rugby terms. A decimated Welsh side suffered Five Nations championship whitewashes in 1990 and 1991, and in the 1991 Rugby World Cup were knocked out in the group phase by Western Samoa.

The late 90s saw a small resurgence in the Welsh game as rugby union finally relented and turned professional. A 10-match unbeaten run saw Wales enter as host nation into the 1999 Rugby World Cup with renewed confidence. However, in the quarter final Wales lost a competitive match to the eventual champions Australia. A runner-up spot by Cardiff in the inaugural European Rugby Cup offered something in the way of progress on a club level; however, that was not followed up by further success.

Further defeats led to perhaps the biggest ever shake-up of Welsh rugby in 2003.

Wales managed to distinguish themselves in the 2003 World Cup by running New Zealand, and the eventual winners of the tournament, England, close in two of the best matches of the tournament.

In 2005, Wales reemerged in the Six Nations. Wales opened with a nail-biting 11-9 win at Millennium Stadium over England, and followed it up with a comfortable win over Italy. The third round, away to France, was close. The French shook off their bad performances in the first two rounds of the Six Nations and took a 15-6 halftime lead. Wales fought back in the second half to score a 24-18 win. The fourth round, away to Scotland, saw Wales score five tries in the first half and cruise to a 46-22 win. Wales then defeated Ireland 32-20 at Millennium Stadium to give them their first title in the competition since 1994 (when it was still the Five Nations) and their first Grand Slam since 1978.

Famous Players

See also

External links

Rugby union in Wales
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WRU logo

Welsh Rugby Union

Welsh National Team

Competitions Celtic League | Celtic Cup | Welsh Premier Division | Heineken Cup | European Challenge Cup | European Shield

Welsh rugby regions Cardiff Blues | Llanelli Scarlets | Neath-Swansea Ospreys | Newport Gwent Dragons

Welsh rugby clubs
Aberavon RFC | Abertillery RFC | Bedwas RFC | Bridgend Ravens RFC | Caerphilly RFC | Camarthen RFC | Cardiff RFC | Cross Keys RFC | Ebbw Vale RFC | Glamorgan Wanderers | Llandovery RFC | Llanelli RFC | Llanharan RFC | Neath RFC | Newbridge RFC | Newport RFC | Pontypool RFC | Pontypridd RFC | Swansea Sharks RFC | Treorchy Rhondda Zebras RFC

it:nazionale di rugby gallese fr:Équipe du Pays de Galles de rugby à XV


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