"St David's Day Special" - Ultimate XV: Wales Legends - Ruck

“St David’s Day Special” – Ultimate XV: Wales Legends

Undeniably amongst the most historic rugby nations in the world, Wales have produced some of the sport’s true greats throughout their decorated lineage. Established as a Test rugby nation in 1881, Wales made their debut in an exhibition match against England, two years before the Home Nations Championship (now the Six Nations) was formed.

Throughout the near century and a half that has since passed, iconic Welshman have defined each decade of rugby union’s progression. Wales have enjoyed two fabled ‘Golden Ages’, the first coming from 1893-1913 and could well have long continued before the break-out of the First World War. The second era of Welsh dominance is so fondly remembered from the 1970s, as the team saw the icons of J.P.R Williams, Gareth Edwards and Barry John entertain fans across the world.

It has been a challenging task to pick an Ultimate XV of Wales legends to commemorate St David’s Day, but we have whittled down our picks for the following match day squad. With 28 outright wins of Rugby’s Greatest Championship, spanning the Home, Five and modern Six Nations competitions, Wales have long been titans of the Northern Hemisphere. Now, Warren Gatland is ushering in the new generation, and the likes of Tommy Reffell or Dafydd Jenkins could well make this updated team in decades to come.



15. J.P.R Williams (55 caps, 1969-81)

14. Gerald Davies (46 caps, 1966-78)

11. Shane Williams (87 caps, 2000-11)

Beginning in the back three, and we award the number 15 jersey to one of the true legends of Wales’ second Golden Era. John Peter Rhys Williams, or more commonly known as JPR, the fullback is amongst the finest players of his generation and dutifully slots in to our Ultimate XV. Sadly passing away in early January, Williams was an orthopaedic surgeon by trade, and an all-round entertainer when it came to the rugby pitch. With his iconic sideburns and socks low around his ankles, JPR’s image will last a lifetime for the generations to come.

Upon the right wing we have selected Gerald Davies, who is amongst the decorated company of Welsh legends to have three Grand Slams. Davies is joined by JPR in such company, as well as an assortment of players that are set to make our Ultimate XV. Regarded as one of the best attacking wings to ever play the game, Davies would light up the pitch with his spell-binding runs and an effortless ease of gliding passed his opponents. He scored 72 points in his Wales career, and became a successful journalist after hanging up the boots.

On the left wing we have selected Shane Williams, who is the first of a more recent era to make our Welsh legends squad. Retiring from the international stage after the 2011 Rugby World Cup, Williams had long been a favourite of the Principality faithful. Spending the majority of his career with the Ospreys, Williams ended his playing days in Japan, following a three season run with the Mitsubishi Dynaboars. As dynamic in attack as he was ruthless in defence, Williams’ explosive first step would often wrong-foot his opponents, and his powerful fend would leave them scrambling on the deck.


13. George North (119+ caps, 2010-)

12. Scott Gibbs (53 caps, 1991-01)

There was much deliberation towards the centres, with the likes of Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies demoted to the Honourable Mentions list. We have opted for George North at outside centre, given the longevity of his career after coming infield off of the wing. North’s 119 Wales test caps and counting, sets him amongst the top representatives for his nation, in third overall. Still as powerful as he was upon his Wales debut, North may have lost a step or two from a pace perspective, but the 31-year-old remains amongst the top performers in every outing for his country.

On the inside of North is Scott Gibbs, who was the gem in the Welsh midfield throughout the 1990s. A dual-code footballer, Gibbs also represented Wales in Rugby League, yet it is his days as the union midfield linchpin that earns him this spot. Leading the charge in the centres, ‘Gibbsy’ would tear up trees for his nation be it alongside Alan Bateman at the turn of the professional era, or Mark Taylor as the world crossed over from the late 90s and entered the new Millennium. As hard-hitting as they came, Gibbs was a cornerstone for Wales, as well as for Neath, Swansea, and later the Ospreys.