WORLD RANKING: 6
SUMMED UP IN THREE WORDS: Resilient, Impassioned, Pro§ficient
THE HEAD COACH: Wales head coach Warren Gatland was the British and Irish Lions coach in 2013. He is one of the most well-respected coaches in world rugby having led Wales to Grand Slams and Wasps to domestic success. He had achieved great success as a player in New Zealand before making his name as a coach in the northern hemisphere.
FAMILIAR FACES: Their skipper Sam Warburton, who was infamously sent off in the World Cup semi-final, is somewhat the modern day face of Welsh rugby. Pair Alun Wyn Jones and Jamie Roberts have also been stalwarts in the team, amassing 129 caps between them.
KEY PLAYER: The star of the Wales team Leigh Halfpenny is arguably the finest player in the modern era to come out of the Northern Hemisphere. Since making his international bow in 2008 his prolific boot and game-breaking ability have proved pivotal for Wales and the British and Irish Lions.
YOUNG GUN: George North has emerged as one of the most talented wingers in the modern game having already won two Six Nations titles despite his tender years. The 23-year old has in total made 49 Test caps, scoring 110 points.
STYLE: Wales have played some fantastic rugby down the years and always appear to be well organized tactically, especially under Gatland. Welsh rugby has a glittering past, an exciting present and a wonderful future with the young players they have coming through.
BEST RWC MOMENT: Wales’s best World Cup performance to date was still at the inaugural World Cup in 1987 when they finished third. Although they were well beaten by the eventual winners New Zealand in the semi-finals, they were able to overcome the pre-tournament favourites Australia narrowly in the third-place play-off.
WORST RWC MOMENT: Following their shock defeat to Fiji in 2007 Wales embarrassingly bowed out of the World Cup at the Pool stage for the first time since 1995.
COMMENTATOR’S GO-TO FACT: The letters K, Q, V and Z do not appear in the Welsh alphabet at all.
EXPECTATIONS: Wales’s fans demand their players to give their absolute everything in every game. They are in a challenging Pool but the expectancy is as always to to qualify for the knockout rounds.
VIEW FROM THE STANDS: Drew, 21, Abergele
- What do you make of this current crop of Wales players? I think Wales have a very strong squad, we have arguably the best set of flankers available, the backs are up there as well. George North will be a big part of how we play, his power from the wings is very important. Leigh Halfpenny will be the most important player and will need to be at his best, the only thing that worries me are the front row. They are inexperienced and not the best scrummagers in the tournament
- Do you believe that they can get through their ‘pool of death’? I think we will have to score big against the smaller teams to have a chance although I do believe that we can beat England. I think the home advantage won’t be a factor when we play them because of the fact we’re so close together. We will however have to be at our best to beat Australia as they are traditionally our bogey team, I’m confident we can claim second behind the Aussies though
- Who do you think will win the tournament? My tip for the tournament is Australia. They are on the back of a good summer season, and their backs are second to none. New Zealand are always going to be there or thereabouts. I feel like the surprise package will be Argentina, they seem to have become more competitive and their nothing to lose attitude will stand them in good stead against the big boys
RUCK VERDICT: Wales have a poor record against the Wallabies and were beaten at the Millennium Stadium by England in the spring. Therefore, it is not looking good for the men in red, and it’s likely they could be out in the Pool stage.
20/09/2015: Wales vs. Uruguay, Millennium Stadium (Wales). 14:30 kick off
26/09/2015: England vs. Wales, Twickenham (London). 20:00 kick off
01/09/2015: Wales vs. Fiji, Millennium Stadium (Wales). 16:45 kick off
10/10/2015: Australia vs. Wales, Twickenham (London). 16:45 kick off
Total travelling between games: 304 miles.
Forwards: Tomas Francis, Paul James, Aaron Jarvis, Gethin Jenkins, Samson Lee, Scott Baldwin, Ken Owens, Jake Ball, Luke Charteris, Dominic Day, Bradley Davies, Alun Wyn Jones, Toby Faletau, James King, Dan Lydiate, Justin Tipuric, Sam Warburton (captain).
Backs: Gareth Davies, Rhys Webb, Lloyd Williams, Dan Biggar, Matthew Morgan, Rhys Priestland, Cory Allen, Jamie Roberts, Scott Williams, Hallam Amos, Alex Cuthbert, George North, Leigh Halfpenny, Liam Williams