Is Wales Still A Sporting Nation? Yes, But You’ll Now Need To Look Beyond The Wendy And The Egg

Tens of thousands of Welsh fans will flood into Cardiff over the next month to watch the nation’s football and rugby teams in action.

Robert Page’s men will play two crucial World Cup qualifiers while Wayne Pivac’s players complete the four-match autumn series which kicked-off against New Zealand at the weekend.

With so many high profile matches in the space of four weeks, the age old debate of whether Wales is a rugby nation or a football nation is sure to rage in the capital’s pubs and bars.

Following the predictable result against the mighty All Blacks, the so-called “Egg-chasers” may have their work cut out building a credible case over the “Wendyballers”.

However, who’s to say the world’s number one ranked football nation, Belgium, won’t hand out a similarly humbling lesson at a crowded Cardiff City Stadium in just over a fortnight?

Let’s hope not.

But, surely, it’s time to put this debate to bed once and for all.

Is Wales a rugby nation or a football nation?

Well, the answer is . . . neither.

Wales is a sporting nation and we need to put an end to this unhealthy obsession with which of the footballing codes is our national sport.

There’s no arguing against the enormous popularity of rugby and football, but let’s remember they are far from the only games in town.

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Why should it be a case of football or rugby?

Why not football AND rugby AND cycling AND swimming AND boxing AND athletics AND cricket . . . ?

Okay, football and rugby attract the biggest crowds and the biggest pay days, but we’re in danger of forgetting the other sports which weave Wales’ rich sporting tapestry.

They aren’t the only games that can bring world class events into Wales, or inspire tens of thousands of people to participate.

The weekend before last, Sophia Gardens played host to the men’s Hockey World Cup European qualifying tournament.

Not only did Wales host the tournament, they won it! The victory secured the men’s first qualification for the World Cup finals.

The weekend before, Llandaff Fields hosted the first Gold Standard meeting in the newly launched World Athletics Cross Country Tour.

The elevation of the annual Cardiff Cross Challenge to a global athletics event is a huge coup.


While the event’s new status came too late to attract the biggest stars this time around, future editions will.

Even so, some of the UK’s top athletes took part in the event, affording hundreds of local club runners the opportunity to literally rub shoulders with international runners.

Events like this aren’t confined to Cardiff, like so many major football and rugby matches.

September saw some of the world’s greatest cyclists hurtling through our towns and villages, close enough for thousands of spectators and amateur cyclists to feel the draught generated by a speeding professional peloton.

From Llandeilo to Llandudno and dozens of communities like Aberaeron and Aberystwyth in between – superstars such as Tour De France serial stage-winner Mark Cavendish came to town.

Two days of racing came to a thrilling climax as two of the sport’s current greats duked it out on a suitably breathtaking ascent of the spectacular Great Orme.

Double road race world champion Julian Alaphilippe was pipped on the line in a photo finish by six-time Tour De France stage winner Wout Van Aert as 210kms of racing was ultimately decided by little more than the width of a tyre.

All this witnessed by spectators lining the roads free of charge – a stark contrast to the costly ticket prices for the Wales v New Zealand clash.

And there’s plenty more variety to come.


In less than a fortnight – the same weekend Cardiff hosts the World Cup qualifier against Belarus and the Fiji autumn series international – some of Europe’s top gymnasts also compete in the capital.

The Northern European Artistic Gymnastics Championships will be held at the Sport Wales National Centre with teams invited from the home nations along with the likes of Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

The last time the event was held in Cardiff 12 years ago it provided a hugely entertaining two day’s competition which saw Wales men’s and women’s teams winning all-around gold.

Sporting highlights in the New Year include Newport hosting the British Track Cycling Championships for the first time.

With Britain boasting some of the world’s top exponents, The Geraint Thomas National Velodrome of Wales event should be one of the hottest tickets in town.

Next summer, Swansea hosts Britain’s first stand alone World Triathlon Para Series event which will attract the globe’s best paratriathletes.

Another sporting coup for Wales.


Every event the nation attracts and every success it achieves will boost participation levels, which is surely the most important factor.

Higher participation, whatever the sport, can only be good for the entire nation in so many ways.

Unfortunately, some of the above events and achievements may go under the radar for many because of an obsession with rugby and football by so many media outlets.

Dai does its bit to champion the cause of every sport in Wales, but even a fire-breathing, winged dragon can’t be everywhere!

So, let’s all call a truce on debating whether Wales is a football or rugby nation and unite in promoting the fact it is a true and varied sporting nation.


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