Rugby is considered the national sport of Wales. The game was introduced to Wales at Lampeter College in the mid-nineteenth century using the Rugby School rules. The governing body, the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) (Welsh: Undeb Rygbi Cymru) was formed in 1881 and is recognised by the sport’s international governing body, World Rugby.
The national team play at the 74,500 capacity Millennium Stadium. In 2016 a new sponsorship arrangement means a renaming to Principality Stadium. The national team compete annually in the Six Nations Championship, as well as having competed at every Rugby World Cup. Wales are ranked as a tier-1 nation by
The main domestic competition in Wales is the Guinness Pro12 (formerly the Celtic League), in which Wales have four sides in the competition that include Irish and Scottish and since 2010, Italian clubs. Top-level Welsh teams also compete in the European Rugby Champions Cup and European Rugby Challenge Cup and alongside the teams of England’s Aviva Premiership in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.
Beneath the Pro12, club rugby is represented by over 200 WRU affiliated clubs that play in the Welsh Premier Division and the lower Welsh Divisional leagues. Wales rugby regional teams such as the Scarlets, the Ospreys, Newport Gwent Dragons and the Cardiff Blues continue to compete at the highest level of Rugby
Four Welsh teams compete in the British and Irish Cup, a competition for semi-professional and developmental sides. They are usually the top Premier Division clubs of each region, although the reserve sides of the Pro12 teams were entered in 2015-16.
In the last decade Wales have won the RBS 6 Nations Championship 4 times and the Grand Slam in 2005, 2008 and 2012. In the IRB Rugby World Cup, Wales made it to the semi-finals at the 2011 and to the quarter-finals in 2014, when they were in the ‘group of death’.
The British and Irish Lions test side is selected from players eligible for England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. The Lions tours every four years to New Zealand, South Africa and Australia in rotation. The 2013 Lions tour to Australia was dominated by Wales, captained by the Welsh captain Sam Warburton, with fifteen of the original touring party being Welsh, more than any other nationality in the squad. The Lions went on to record an historical 2-1 series victory.
The benefits of the restructure of professional rugby in 2003 have rewarded Wales. Three Six Nations Grand Slams, in 2005, 2008 and 2012, and a fourth championship title in 2013. The Wales Sevens team won the Rugby World Cup Sevens title in Dubai in 2009 plus a semi-final place at the 2011 Rugby World Cup. The Wales Under 20s reached the World Junior Championships final in 2013. The Wales Sevens side is one of the core teams on the IRB World Sevens circuit, providing young talent with exposure on a global stage.
Whilst the 2015-16 season has been disappointing, with no Welsh teams reaching the Pro12 play-offs and only Scarlets qualifying for the European Champions Cup next season, the prospects for 2016-17 are brighter.