Despite it being invented by a student at an English Public school one country above all others has taken to the game and made it their own. Rugby in Wales is not so much a sport it is more of a religious experience. This is especially true when you factor in the deeply religious songs that are infused within it when it is played. Land of my Fathers, Bread of heaven and Cwm Rhondda are all perfect for a crowd and you would be hard pushed to find more passionate fans. The song Hymns and Arias by Max Boyce illustrates the relationship perfectly. Whilst never world cup winner’s Wales are regular quarter or semi-finalists plus they have won the 6 nations in all its permutations second only to England (28 to 26). What is it about the game that enthuses so?
Some of the answer is due in part to the fact that they were already playing the game, or a form of it well before Webb-Ellis decided to run with a football. Cnapan is a huge game played against rival parishes similar to the one played on Shrove Tuesday in Ashborne Derbyshire. A ball is kicked, passed, thrown or carried to one of the churches in either of the parishes the winners being the ones who get the ball into the church. It seems that the game was played from the Dark ages onwards. There are even some stories that King Arthur was a keen player in his youth. Regardless of legend there is evidence that the game was played extensively throughout the country.
When Reverend Professor Rowland Williams returned from Cambridge he introduced the game to the working populace and it was embraced by them. Fuelled by returning students that had played the game in England hundreds of Welsh Rugby clubs were formed the first being Neath RFC, Newport, Cardiff and Llanelli. It was the industrialised workers and miners who would push the game.
There are two eras thought to be the best of Welsh Rugby the first is from 1900 to 1919 and 1969 to 1979. Both eras are similar in that they featured amateurs who worked in the hard industries of Wales and then transferred that strength and aggression to the pitch. In the first age the players were not of the gentleman types that the English teams consisted of. These were hard men from the lower classes and in Wales this has always been maintained whereas the game in England is still seen as being a bit posh and middle class, with the exception of Gloucester which, incidentally, also played Cnapan.
The second golden age was the same with Graham Price, Bobby Windsor and Charlie Faulkner all were amateur and all were manual workers in the week. The competition with England is still intense as this speech, from player Phil Bennet, about them proves “What have they given us? Absolutely nothing. We’ve been exploited, raped, controlled and punished by the English — and that’s who you are playing this afternoon”.
The players t their skill on the field do the talking and you can be sure that they take their training very seriously. There are various ways to complete training including stamina and strength training, skills drills and Rugby Training drill Videos like the ones you can find at www.sportplan.net/drills/Rugby/Kicking/Kick-Off-Targets-rugcb0076.jsp