Rugby union in Wales
Rugby union in Wales is the national sport and is considered a large part of national culture. Rugby union is thought to have reached Wales in the 1850s, with the national body, the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) being formed in 1881. Wales are considered to be one of the most successful national sides in Rugby Union, having won the most Six Nations Championships, as well as having reached 3 World Cup semi finals in 1987, 2011 and 2019, having finished 3rd in the inaugural competition and having finished 4th in 2011 in a repeat of the first third place play-off. The Welsh team of the 1970s is considered to be arguably the greatest national team of all time, prompting many experts in the game to suggest that had the Rugby World Cup existed during this period, Wales would be amongst the list of World Cup winners. Following their fourth-place finish in the latest World Cup, they are ranked 4th in the world, behind England but ahead of Ireland.
The national team play at the WRU-owned Principality Stadium, and compete annually in the Six Nations Championship, as well as having competed at every Rugby World Cup. Wales are ranked as a tier-1 nation by World Rugby (WR). Wales also competes as one of the 15 "core teams" in the annual World Rugby Sevens Series, and won the 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens.
The main domestic competition in Wales is the Pro14 (historically the Celtic League), in which Wales have four regional sides in the competition which is also contested by Irish and Scottish clubs and from 2010-11 Italian teams. Top-level Welsh regional teams (Ospreys, Cardiff Blues, Scarlets and Dragons) also compete in the Europe-wide European Rugby Champions Cup and European Rugby Challenge Cup and alongside the teams of England's Premiership in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.
Beneath the Pro14, club rugby is represented by over 200 WRU affiliated clubs who play in the Welsh Premier Division and the lower Welsh Divisional leagues. Historically the four major Welsh club teams that have shaped the Welsh national team have been Cardiff, Newport, Swansea and Llanelli, though other clubs which have fought for prominence and provided national sporting heroes during the last 120 years include Bridgend, Neath, Pontypool, Pontypridd, and England exiles London Welsh. Four Welsh teams compete in the British and Irish Cup, a competition for semi-professional and developmental sides from Great Britain and Ireland. They are usually the top Premier Division clubs of each region, although the reserve sides of the Pro12 teams were entered in 2015-16.
As of February 2019 the Welsh Rugby Union are reviewing the number of regions, with potential consolidation for funding two or three super teams.