The Other Sports in Wales – Part 1

The Other Sports in Wales – Part 1

Despite Wales being known around the world for the passion of its rugby union, it is not the only sport that is played and followed in this sport mad nation. Wales regularly produces international sports men of the highest caliber, and while the national team may not be able to compete with the very best international sides, those individual players are held in the highest regard. One such sportsman is Ryan Giggs who played football for Wales on 64 occasions scoring 12 times. He is however,best remembered for his club career with Manchester United. In over 15 seasons he played 672 times scoring 114 goals.

Gareth Bale speaking with Ryan Giggs

During this period the side won the league title on 13 occasions and the European Champions League twice, plus many other domestic trophies. His contribution was recognized by being named as the PFA player of the year, and also captaining the side on many occasions.

Gareth Bale is the player today in Wales who as well as representing the nation, is seen as one of the best players in the world. In the last 5 seasons he has been playing in Spain for Real Madrid where he has scored 62 goals in 118 appearances during a period of great success for the Spanish giants. He started his career with Southampton, but he made his name at Tottenham Hotspurs, where he scored 42 goals from 146 appearances. During his time with the national side he has been the inspiration behind many of their performances, and he has scored 26 times in the 68 caps that he has won.

Swansea are the only club who play their football in England’s Premier League. For years they used to play their home games at the Vetch Field but in 2003 they relocated to the newly built all-seat Liberty Stadium. The ground hold 21,000 spectators but the passion of the home fans is one of the reasons why the side has been in the Premiership for the last 7 seasons.

Matthew Maynard with the 1997 Championship trophy

If anyone doubts the popularity of football in Wales then they must visit a match between Swansea and their local rivals Cardiff City. Cardiff has also recently located to a new stadium, moving in 2009 from their old Ninian Park Ground to the 33,000 all-seat Cardiff City Stadium. The side are currently in second place in the Championship as they chase promotion into the Premier League. The owners and supporters of the club truly believe that they are a premiership side waiting to rightfully return to the top league. Their rivalry with their Swansea neighbors is intense.

The main summer sport in Wales is cricket with Glamorgan being Wales’ sole representatives in the County Championship. They play their home games at Sophia Gardens which is located in Cardiff. The Ground has recently undergone intensive redevelopment, and is now a test match venue for England’s home games. The county team are currently in division 2 of the championship but have an illustrious history. They have won the county championship on 3 occasions with their last one occurring in 1997 under the captaincy of Matthew Maynard who also represented England.

Another player who also appeared in test match cricket was Robert Croft. He played 21 times for England, primarily as an off spinner in which he took 49 wickets. In his career for the Welsh county he played in 407 first class matches taking 1,175 wickets. In 1969 when the county won the County Championship they were captained by Tony Lewis. He went on the become the only player from Glamorgan to captain England which he did so on 8 occasions. In his career for Glamorgan he played 409 first class matches and scored a total of nearly 21,000 runs.

Glamorgan are one of the best supported sides in county cricket and this reflects the popularity of the sport in Wales.