- Sport in Wales
The most popular sports in
Walesare rugby union, cricketand football. But rugby union is commonly referred to as the country's national sportattracting the largest crowds for international matches. Like other constituent countries of the UK, Wales enjoys independent representation in major world sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup, Rugby World Cupand in the Commonwealth Games, but competes as part of England (and Wales) in Cricketand Great Britainin many others, including the Olympics.
Millennium Stadiumused by both the national football and rugby union teams is the national stadium. It holds 75,000 spectators.
Sports Council for Walesare responsible for sport in Wales.
:"See main articles:
Rugby union in Wales."
As in New Zealand, rugby union is popular (although football is the preferred sport in
North Wales). The Encyclopedia of Walesdescribes the sport as "seen by many as a symbol of Welsh identity and an expression of national consciousness". [The Welsh Academy Encyclopedia of Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press 2008.]
The professional era has seen major and controversial changes in the traditional structure of club rugby in Wales. Wales now shares a single top flight rugby structure with Scotland and Ireland, the Magners League. Wales is represented by four regional teams that also take part in the
Heineken Cup, the European Challenge Cup, and the EDF Energy Cupagainst teams from England.
The Welsh national rugby union team takes part in the annual
Six Nations Championship, and the Rugby World Cup.
:"See main articles
Football in Walesand Football in the United Kingdom"
The governing bodies for football in Wales is the
Football Association of Wales. They run the national teams, the recreational game and the main cup competitions. Wales has its own top-flight, the Welsh Premier League, and has done so since 1992, but for historical reasons, six Welsh clubs (Cardiff City, Swansea City, Wrexham, Newport County, Merthyr Tydfil and Colwyn Bay) play in the English Football League and its feeder leagues. The main Welsh Cup competitions are the Welsh Cupand the FAW Premier Cup.
The two feeder leagues into the Welsh Premiership is the
Cymru Alliancein the north, and the Welsh Football Leaguein the south.
:"See main article
Cricket in Wales."
cricket, England and Wales field a single representative team in international competition which is administered by the England and Wales Cricket Board(ECB). There is a separate Wales team that occasionally participates in limited-overs domestic competition. English Wicket keeper Geraint Jonesis originally from Wales. A Wales team also plays in the English Minor Countiescompetition. Cricketis one of the most popular summer sports. [http://www.fifa.com/associations/association=wal/goalprogramme/] Glamorgan County Cricket Clubis the only Welsh participant in the England and Wales County Championship.
Wales has always had a strong connection with the sport of boxing, particually in the South Wales Valleys, with fighters such as
Tommy Farr, Freddie Welsh, Jim Driscoll, Dai Dowerand Johnny Owenall competing at the highest level. Joe Calzaghethe half-Welsh, half-Italian boxer is current World Super-Middleweight Champion. Former World champions include Enzo Maccarinelli, Gavin Rees, Howard Winstone, Jimmy Wilde, Steve Robinson and Robbie Regan.
:"See main articles:
Rugby league in Wales."
Wales Rugby Leagueachieved governing body status in 2005. Rugby leagueis now developing in Wales. There has been a national league since 2003, and in 2006, semi-professional league returned to Wales with the advent of the Celtic Crusaderswho play National League One.
The national side, nicknamed the Dragons, have often been one of the stronger sides in international rugby league and have also provided a number of players for the Great Britain team. They compete in the European Nations Cup and the World Cup.
Wales has also produced a number of athletes who have made a mark on the world stage, including the 110m hurdler
Colin Jacksonwho is a former world record holder and the winner of numerous Olympic, World and European medals.
The Isle of
Anglesey/Ynys Môn is a member island of the International Island Games Association. The next Island Games will be held in 2007 on Rhodes (Greece). In the 2005 Games, held on the Shetland Islands, the Isle of Anglesey/Ynys Môn came 11th on the medal table with 4 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze medals.
The rugged terrain of the country also gives plenty of opportunities for rally driving and Wales currently hosts the finale of the
World Rally Championship. Wales has had some notability in the World Rally Championship, producing two championship winning Co-Drivers, those being Nicky Grist, who helped Colin McRaeto victory in 1996 and Phil Millswho helped Petter Solbergwin the 2003 title.
Two Welsh drivers have competed in the
Formula Onechampionship: the first was Alan Reesat the 1967 British Grand Prix, who finished in ninth position, four laps behind the winner, Jim Clark. Tom Prycewas the more notable of the two drivers, as he finished on the podium twice and, at the 1975 British Grand Prix, qualified in pole position. Pryce's career was cut short after he collided with volunteer marshal, Jansen Van Vuuren, killing both instantly.
Freddie Williams was world speedway champion in 1950 and 1953, and the British Grand Prix - the United Kingdom's round of the world championship - is held each year at the
Millennium Stadiumin Cardiff. Newportand Carmarthenhave teams in the British speedway leagues.
Wales has also produced several champions in
autograss, a form of motor racing on grass or dirt tracks.
The leading body for physical education in the
United Kingdomis the Association for Physical Education.
Wales has produced some world class
snookerplayers such as Ray Reardon, Terry Griffiths, Mark Williamsand Matthew Stevens. Amateur participation in the sport is very high.
Cardiff Devilswere once a strong force in British ice hockey.
Other notable Welsh sports people include 11 times gold medal winning paralympic athlete
Tanni Grey-Thompson, BDO world darts champion Richie Burnettand international champion cyclists Nicole Cookeand Geraint Thomas. Cardiffand Newportare home to the traditional game of British Baseball, which sees an annual international match between Wales and England.
Since 2006, Wales has had its own professional golf tour, the
Celtic Manor Resortin Newport, South Waleswill be the venue for the Ryder Cup in the year 2010, the first time the event will be held in Wales.
Cardiff is expected to play a large role in the
London 2012 Olympics[ [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sport_in_Cardiff#London_2012_Olympics London 2012 Olympics] ]
Sport in the United Kingdom
Association for Physical Education
Australian rules football in Wales
Welsh Institute of Sport
Cardiff International Sports Village
* [http://www.afpe.org.uk Association for Physical Education official website]
Association for Physical Education afPE
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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