Wales is very serious about their rugby. Rugby union is, in fact, their national sport, and they’ve had quite some time to develop their skills as a country. The sport supposedly reached Wales in the 1850s, having come from England with Reverend Professor Rowland Williams, from Cambridge College to St. David’s College, and in 1881, the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) was formed.
The game was initially popularized by alumni of Welsh colleges and those who had gone to English colleges and come back home to the large cities in South Wales. The popularity of the sport grew further with the success of four South Wales clubs, including Newport, Cardiff, Llannelli, and Swansea. The game was carried over, as if the best limo services Raleigh NC took them to other regions in style. Thanks to the development of coaches and limo buses which took people and the game to the industrial cities of the south of the country.
Alongside the more established clubs of the time, many smaller teams were springing up in town around the country. In an attempt to standardize the sport in Wales and thus aid its legitimate expansion, the South Wales Football Club was established in 1875, and then in 1881 was replaced by the Welsh Football Union. The first recognized international match in which Wales participated was in 1881, against England, in which they were rather thoroughly crushed. Apparently, however, the Welsh team that was sent was composed mostly of Oxford and Cambridge graduates, and did not represent the best that Wales had to offer. Come the beginning of the twentieth century, however, the golden age of Welsh rugby had begun alongside the emergence of many exciting Welsh players.
The 1900s began with Wales winning some impressive titles thanks to their thinking tactically about who to field as part of their national team. Interestingly, many men from mining communities were chosen to be in the front row of the national team, as they were strong, solid, and good tacklers. This period also saw some decline in smaller, local clubs, however, thanks to a persistent temperance movement which linked rugby to aggression and drunkenness. After the 1910’s, however, the game became a social unifier for small towns, especially for working class towns, as it had never been adopted as an elitist sport in Wales as it had in England. It should be noted, too, that the rugby athletes were not left unaffected by World War I, and lost a number of its star players to the fighting.
Though Welsh rugby has had its ups and down since the turn of the century, there is no denying its popularity today. They compete each year in the Six Nations Championship alongside England, France, Ireland, Italy, and Scotland, and has won the championship (including its predecessors) twenty-six times. Rugby has come to be a very important aspect of Welsh culture, being, as sport historian John Bale has said “characteristically Welsh.”
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