|Governing body||Wales Rugby League|
|Head coach||John Kear|
|Most caps||Ian Watson (30)|
|Top try-scorer||Rhys Williams (18)|
|Top point-scorer||Iestyn Harris (165)|
| New Zealand 8–9 Wales |
(Aberdare, Wales; 1 January 1908)
| United States 4–92 Wales |
(Philadelphia, United States; 11 June 1995)
| England 74–0 Wales |
(Doncaster, England; 10 October 2008)
|Appearances||5 (first time in 1975 )|
|Best result||Semi-finals (1995, 2000)|
The Wales national rugby league team represents Wales in international rugby league football matches. Currently the team is ranked fourteenth in the RLIF World Rankings. The team was run under the auspices of the Rugby Football League, but an independent body, Wales Rugby League, now runs the team from Cardiff. Three Welsh players have been entered into the Rugby League Hall Of Fame.
As with other Welsh national sporting teams, Wales strip has been primarily red. However, in the World Cup campaign in 2000 they wore a shirt featuring the Welsh flag, adding a touch of green and white. The team is known as "The Dragons" and so the team's logo on the shirt is a red dragon.
The team date back to 1907, making them the third oldest national side after England and New Zealand, and it was a touring New Zealand side that Wales first played against in 1908, winning 9–8 at Aberdare. Since then, Wales have regularly played England, since 1935 France, as well as welcomed the touring Australia and New Zealand teams, although they rarely toured themselves, not playing a match in the Southern Hemisphere until 1975. For 26 years Wales competed against their two biggest rivals, England and France, in the European Nations Cup, winning the trophy four times.
Wales has also competed in the World Cup on five occasions, the first time being in 1975. In 1995 and 2000 they had their most successful tournaments to date, making the Semi-Finals on both occasions before being beaten by England and Australia respectively. Wales failed to qualify for the 2008 World Cup, being the second highest ranked side not to do so, having lost to Scotland on points difference over two matches. They then qualified for the 2013 World Cup but failed to win a game, including losing 32–16 to low ranked Italy in their opening game at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
In recent seasons, Wales has taken massive strides under former player Iestyn Harris who had coached Wales to back to back European Cup successes, which culminated in a Four Nations appearance in 2011. In 2014 former England and France coach John Kear became the new head coach after Iestyn Harris left the post to concentrate on his new job as head coach at Salford Red Devils.
On 5 April 1904, England played an international match against the "Other Nationalities", a team of Welshmen and Scotsmen, in Wigan. Of the twelve players who played for the Other Nationalities team, as it was a 12-a-side game, ten of them were Welshmen coming from Northern English clubs. At the turn of the century many Welshmen made the switch from rugby union, wanting to be paid for playing, and although the numbers switching were constantly increasing, the Northern Union did not think that a Welsh side would be strong enough for England. After 80 minutes however, the Other Nationalities had beaten England 9–3. Nevertheless, this team carried on for another two years, playing England annually in 1905 and 1906, losing 26–11 and drawing 3–3 respectively.
From 1905 to 1910 Rugby League as a sport enjoyed growth, not just in Wales and England, but also on the east coast of Australia and in northern New Zealand. When Albert Henry Baskerville's NZ All Golds with their guest Australian star Dally Messenger arrived in Britain for the inaugural tour by a southern hemisphere side, the first full international was against Wales on New Year's Day 1908. The Welsh rugby league team were contesting their first national fixture, and managed to beat the touring Kiwis 9–8 in Aberdare in front of 20,000 spectators. This was the first international match played under new "Northern Union" rules, which would later be rapidly changed again, but these rules were a small departure from traditional rugby union rules which had been used in previous international matches (minus the number of players, who were experimentally changed by the NU several times). The New Zealand team, or the "All Golds" as they were being called by the New Zealand newspapers, had never played rugby by these rules before but did have a week of preparation and training sessions leading up to the match. With this Welsh victory and large crowd, Wales played their second fixture in Tonypandy, and managed to win that match too recording a 35–18 win against what would soon become their main rival, the England Lions. At the end of 1908 Wales played their third and final fixture of the decade, playing England again, but this time in Broughton, Lancashire. This time they lost 31–7. However, in 1909 another victory was to occur for Welsh Rugby League, with a Welsh League XIII made up of players still playing in Wales beating a touring Australian side 14–13 in Merthyr.
In the years before the outbreak of the war, Wales regularly played England. The two national teams played each other every year, including 1914. Due to Rugby League only extensively being played in the two countries in the whole of the Northern Hemisphere, touring Australia and New Zealand teams were the only chances to play someone different. Although the two matches against the English played in Wales were played in Ebbw Vale in Monmouthshire, the Welsh travelled around England for away matches, playing in Coventry, Oldham, Plymouth and St. Helens. Collectively those seven matches in Wales and England produced six defeats for the Welsh team, although there were signs of improvement, in the last match in St Helens the Dragons narrowly lost by just four points, the match ending 16–12. On the 7 October 1911 Wales played Australia for the first time. The match, held at Ebbw Vale again, drew 7,000 people to watch Wales go down 20–28. The match was significant though because throughout the next few decades Australia would play the Dragons in Wales whenever they toured Great Britain. During and after the First World War many sports suffered, and rugby league in Wales was no exception, the team didn't play a match again until 1921.
After a seven-year hiatus Wales once again played England and continued to do so annually throughout the 1920s, apart from in 1924. Because of the long hiatus a large proportion of players competing in the 1921 match were earning their first cap for the team. The first game at Leeds saw Wales lose 35–9 in front of 13,000. A further 13,000 saw the 1921–22 Kangaroo touring side play Wales in December 1921, this time in Pontypridd. Like the first time these nations played each other, Australia narrowly defeated the Welsh, the final score being 16–21. In 1922 Wales took part in the first international rugby league match to be played in London. England beat Wales 12–7 in Herne Hill but just 3,000 people turned up to watch, one of the lowest attendances to ever watch a Wales match. After four more matches against England in various Rugby League strongholds in Northern England, the Dragons once again played in Wales. Two matches were played in 1926 in Pontypridd, the same year that a Pontypridd domestic side joined the English leagues, although they disbanded a year later. The first match saw finished Wales 22–30 England with a record 23,000 in attendance. The second match saw Wales comfortably beat the touring New Zealand 34–8. Three more matches against England were played including one in November 1928 played in Cardiff. It was in the 1920s that Jim Sullivan, one of three Welsh players to be enrolled into the Rugby League Hall Of Fame, started rising through the ranks at Wigan. A career spanning 25 years saw him play many times for Wales picking up 26 caps, a record that was only beaten in 2010 by Ian Watson. He also represented Great Britain 25 times and Glamorgan and Monmouthshire 12 times.
The 1930s were to herald a new era for the team as it emerged at times as one of the dominant sides in world rugby league. In 1930 and 1933 Wales played Australia at Wembley Stadium in London. On both occasions they failed to win, losing 26–10 and being thrashed 51–19. However at the time Australia were arguably considered the world's second best nation (behind England) and so particularly in the first game, Wales had done very well against the touring Kangaroos. Wales luck against England did not change either suffering three losses to the Lions in three games, in Huddersfield, Salford and Leeds. They were very unlucky in the latter however, with England winning 14 points to 13. Exactly 27 years after Wales played their first match, they played France for the first time in a new competition called the European Nations Cup, in which Wales, France and England would play two matches each. Wales and France kicked off the tournament on New Year's Day in front of 15,000 in Bordeaux. But the Dragons lost 18–11, and their match against England was just as bad losing 24–11 in Liverpool. The France versus England match finished a 15–15 draw so England won the inaugural competition on points difference. Wales finished bottom. The next European Nations Cup brought better fortunes to the Welsh and they kicked off the competition, which was staged across Winter 1935 and 1936, with a 41–7 thrashing against France. The team were cheered on by 25,000 people at Llanelli and three months later Wales did the unexpected and squeezed past England, winning 14–17 away at Hull. This was a huge result for Wales, having not beaten England since 1923, and they had won the cup for the first time. For the next two competitions Wales successfully defended the cup. A 3–2 win against the English in Pontypridd, coupled with a 9–3 victory in Paris saw Wales clinch the cup for the second time, and then in 1938 the Dragons beat England again by one point in Bradford before beating the French 18–2. This represents perhaps the highest point in Welsh rugby league history with great players such as Jim Sullivan, Gus Risman, Alan Edwards and Alec Givvons featuring. In 1935 Welsh rugby league would produce its first black international in George Bennett (some 48 years before Welsh rugby union would do so). In the 1938/1939 tournament, the last to be held for six years because of the Second World War, Wales beat their main rivals England before dramatically losing 16–10 in Bordeaux against Les Tricolores. Because of the French's victory against England, Wales finished second and the cup was taken across the channel.
During the 1978 Kangaroo tour Wales played Australia at St Helen's ground in Swansea, losing 8–3.
Squad selected for 2021 Rugby League World Cup qualifiers;
Below is table of the representative rugby matches played by the Wales national XIII at test level up until 24 December 2020.
|New Zealand Maori||1||1||0||0||100%||18||12||+6|
|Papua New Guinea||4||3||0||1||75%||146||68||+78|
|World Cup Record|
|1954||Did not enter|
|1975||Group stage||3rd of 5||8||3||0||5||110||130||–20|
|1977||Did not enter|
|1995||Semi-finals||3rd of 10||3||2||0||1||60||41||+19|
|2000||Semi-finals||3rd of 16||5||3||0||1||124||140||–16|
|2008||Did not qualify|
|2013||Group stage||12th of 14||3||0||0||3||56||84||–28|
|2017||Group stage||13th of 14||3||0||0||3||18||156||–138|
|Four Nations Record|
|2009||Did not enter|
|2011||Group stage||4th of 4th||3||0||0||3||18||134||–116|
|2014||Did not enter|
World Cup :
Semi-finalists (2): 1995, 2000
European Championship :
Winners (7):1935-36, 1936–37, 1938, 1995, 2009, 2010, 2015
Runners-up (9): 1938-39, 1946–47, 1952–53, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1996, 2005, 2018
|Official Men's Rankings as of November 2019|
|6||4||Papua New Guinea|
|*Change from July 2019|
|Les Pearce||1975||9||3||0||6||33.33||1975 Rugby League World Cup – Group stage|
| John Mantle |
|Clive Griffiths||1991–2000||25||15||0||10||60.00|| 1995 European Rugby League Championship |
1995 Rugby League World Cup – Third place
2000 Rugby League World Cup – Third place
|Iestyn Harris||2009–2013||18||7||0||11||38.89|| 2009 European Cup |
2010 European Cup
2013 Rugby League World Cup – Group stage
|John Kear||2014–||10||4||0||6||40.00|| 2015 European Cup |
2017 Rugby League World Cup – Group stage
The following Welsh players have been inducted into both the British Rugby League Hall of Fame and the international Rugby League Hall of Fame :
The following Welsh players have been inducted into the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame:
The Australia national rugby union team, nicknamed the Wallabies, is the representative national team in the sport of rugby union for the nation of Australia. The team first played at Sydney in 1899, winning their first test match against the touring British Isles team.
The Wales national rugby union team represents Wales in men's international rugby union. Its governing body, the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU), was established in 1881, the same year that Wales played their first international against England. The team plays its home matches at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, which replaced Cardiff Arms Park as the national stadium of Wales in 1999.
The Australian national rugby league team, the Kangaroos, have represented Australia in senior men's rugby league football competition since the establishment of the 'Northern Union game' in Australia in 1908. Administered by the Australian Rugby League Commission, the Kangaroos are ranked second in the RLIF World Rankings. The team is the most successful in Rugby League World Cup history, having contested all 15 and won 11 of them, failing to reach the final only once, in the inaugural tournament in 1954. Only five nations have beaten Australia in test matches, and Australia have an overall win percentage of 69%.
The France national rugby league team represent France in international rugby league matches. They are referred to as les Chanticleers or less commonly as les Tricolores. The team is run under the auspices of the Fédération Française de Rugby à XIII.
The England national rugby league team represents England in international rugby league.
The Fiji national rugby union team represents Fiji in men's international rugby union competes every four years at the Rugby World Cup, and their best performances were the 1987 and 2007 tournaments when they defeated Argentina and Wales respectively to reach the quarterfinals. Fiji also regularly plays test matches during the June and November test windows. Fiji also plays in the Pacific Tri-Nations, and has won the most Pacific Tri-Nations Championships of the three participating teams.
The Tonga national rugby union team represents Tonga in men's international rugby union it's nicknamed ʻIkale Tahi . Like their Polynesian neighbours, the Tongans start their matches with a war dance – the Sipi Tau. They are members of the Pacific Islands Rugby Alliance (PIRA) along with Fiji and Samoa. The Ikale Tahi achieved a historic 19–14 victory over France in the 2011 Rugby World Cup, but having lost to New Zealand and Canada, were unable to achieve what would have been their first-ever presence at the quarter-finals.
Cardiff Rugby Football Club is a rugby union football club based in Cardiff, the capital city of Wales. The club was founded in 1876 and played their first few matches at Sophia Gardens, shortly after which relocating to Cardiff Arms Park where they have been based ever since.
Gethin Jenkins is a Welsh former rugby union player. He won 129 international caps for Wales and five for the British & Irish Lions. Jenkins was the record cap holder for Wales until he was overtaken by Alun Wyn Jones on 29 September 2019. He is the sixth most-capped player in rugby union history and the most capped front row forward. He is one of a small group of Welsh players to have won three Grand Slams including Gerald Davies, Gareth Edwards, JPR Williams, Ryan Jones, Adam Jones and Alun Wyn Jones. On 31 October 2018 he announced his intention to retire after a final game for the Cardiff Blues against Zebre on Sunday 4 November 2018 following a recurring knee Injury.
The Canada national rugby union team represents Canada in men's international rugby union and it is governed by Rugby Canada, and play in red and white. Canada is classified by World Rugby as a tier two rugby nation. Canada competes in competitions such as the Americas Rugby Championship and the Rugby World Cup.
Warren David Gatland is a New Zealand rugby union coach and former player. While he was coach between 2007 and 2019, Wales won four Six Nations titles, including three Grand Slams, and reached the semi-finals of the 2011 and 2019 Rugby World Cups. Gatland was also head coach of the British & Irish Lions on their 2013 tour of Australia, where they won the Test series 2–1, and 2017 tour of New Zealand, when the series was drawn.
Rugby league is a sport played in Wales. The governing body of the game in Wales is the Wales Rugby League.
Alun Wyn Jones is a Welsh professional rugby union player. He is the current captain of the Wales national team, former captain of the Ospreys, and the captain of the 2021 British and Irish Lions team. He is one of only four players to have been selected to go on four British and Irish Lions tours, a feat he achieved crossing three different decades. He is the world's most-capped Rugby Union player and Wales' most capped international player. He is one of a small group of Welsh players to have won three Grand Slams including Gerald Davies, Gareth Edwards, JPR Williams, Ryan Jones, Adam Jones and Gethin Jenkins. He was named as the best player of the 2019 Six Nations Championship.
Thomas Patrick David is a Welsh former dual-code international rugby union and rugby league footballer who played in the 1970s and 1980s. He played representative rugby union (RU) for Wales and the British Lions and rugby league (RL) for Wales. He was selected for the 1974 British Lions tour to South Africa, and at the time played club rugby for Llanelli RFC. He also played for his home-town club Pontypridd RFC, and while at the club was part of the 1976 Grand Slam winning Wales team. In 1981 he switched codes to rugby league, representing Cardiff City Blue Dragons.
Lynn Howells is a Welsh rugby union coach, who until March 2018 was the head coach of the Romanian national team, haven been the manager of the national side for 10 months prior to his appointment. Howells, born in Maerdy in Rhondda Valleys, played flanker at his nearest club Tylorstown RFC, before playing for Penygraig RFC. There he was noticed by Pontypridd RFC, and represented one of the top clubs in Wales in 1971.
Jamie Huw Roberts is a Welsh rugby union player, who plays for the Dragons. His usual position is centre.
Ian Martin Buckett is a former international rugby union front row forward who played for Swansea and London Welsh and played county rugby for North Wales. He was a championship winning player, an international and an academic.
Willie Davies was a Welsh international dual-code rugby fly half who played rugby union for Swansea and rugby league for Bradford Northern. He won six caps for the Wales rugby union team and nine caps for the Wales rugby league team. In 2003 he was inducted into the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame.
Ebbw Vale Rugby League Football Club was a professional rugby league club based in Ebbw Vale, Wales playing in the Welsh League and Northern Union. Based at Bridge End Field, Ebbw Vale were one of the first professional Welsh teams, and the last to disband in 1912 after the failure of the Welsh League. Ebbw Vale produced seven players who would go on to represent the Wales national rugby league team, and were seen as the only Welsh team of the time who could challenge the Northern League.
Merthyr Tydfil Rugby League Football Club was a professional rugby league club based in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales playing in the Welsh League and Northern Union. Based at College Field, Merthyr Tydfil were one of the first professional Welsh teams, and folded in 1911 after the failure of the Welsh League. Merthyr Tydfil produced five players who would go on to represent the Wales national rugby league team, and in the 1908-09 season finished eighth in the Northern League, the best result achieved by any of the first six professional Welsh teams.