Wales had their best tournament performance in 1987, winning all three of their pool matches and their quarterfinal before falling to New Zealand in the semifinals. The third-place play-off match was next against Australia, which they won 22-21. Wales only managed to go past the pool stage in the next two tournaments, in 1991 and 1995, winning just one game overall in each one.
The 1999 and 2003 were more successful, as Wales qualified for the quarterfinals on both occasions. Wales served as the event’s host in 1999 and finished first in their pool before falling to eventual champion Australia in the quarterfinals.
In 2003, despite having more tries than their opponents, they fell to England in the quarterfinals after coming in second place to New Zealand in their pool.
Again, Wales failed to advance past the pool round at the 2007 World Cup. Despite scoring more tries than their opponents, they fell to Fiji by four points after defeating Australia and winning twice against Japan and Canada.
Related: Wales Schedule
Wales made it to the World Cup semifinals in 2011 for the first time since 1987. Wales’ semifinal match against France ended in a 9-8 loss overshadowed by the captain of Wales, Sam Warburton, being sent off in the 18th minute for a potentially dangerous tackle on Vincent Clerc.
Wales was in the same World Cup pool as Australia, England, Fiji, and Uruguay in 2015. They came in behind Australia and ahead of the home team, England, in the pool. South Africa eliminated Wales in the quarterfinal.
Wales was in pool D for the 2019 World Cup with Australia, Fiji, Georgia, and Uruguay. They finished first in the pool by winning all of their group matches. They won against France in the quarterfinal before falling to eventual tournament champion South Africa in the semis.
- RWC debut: 25 May, 1987 v Ireland in Wellington
- RWC appearances: Played 44 – Won 26 Drawn 0 Lost 18 – Points for 1,238 Points against 865 – Win ratio 59 per cent
- Most RWC appearances: Alun Wyn Jones, 21
- Most RWC tries: Shane Williams, 10
- Best finish: Third (1987)
- Qualification for RWC 2023: RWC 2019 semi-finalists
Most Famous Victory
New Zealand wins 57–33 Wales, 2003 RWC. Although Wales lost, how they performed against the overwhelming odds against them will live long in mind. Wales arrived in Australia with low expectations after suffering a Six Nations whitewash earlier in the year.
They dominated New Zealand in their last pool game, playing a thrilling style of rugby to lead 37-33 with little over 25 minutes remaining. Wales carried that momentum into their match against England in the quarterfinal, and they once again put their more renowned opponents on the back foot until England, like New Zealand, found a way to alter the game’s outcome and win.
Most Memorable Moment
At the inaugural tournament in 1987, Paul Thorburn’s touchline kick helped him earn the bronze. Wales was one point behind Australia after Adrian Hadley’s try, so they still needed their shaky full-back to kick the additional two points to win. Thorburn complied, and Wales returned home with pride.
Sam Warburton, the captain of Wales, was dismissed 19 minutes into the Wales-France Rugby World Cup 2011 semifinal at Eden Park for a reckless tip-tackle on Vincent Clerc. Wales came agonizingly close to reaching their first final despite playing with 14 men for three-quarters of the game, but Les Bleus hung on to win 9-8.
Look no further than the 1991 defeat to Western Samoa to understand what it’s like to be the recipient of unexpected outcomes. They were defeated by Samoa again in 1999, and the Pacific Island curse continued with a loss to Fiji at the RWC in 2007.
Mr. Shane Williams. At the Rugby World Cup 1995, Gareth Thomas scored a hat-trick against Japan on his debut, but overall, Williams outperformed the former Wales captain. The pocket-rocket winger danced his way to 10 tries in 11 games across three Rugby World Cups and was also in charge of many try assists.
Top Record Breaker
Josh Adams scored seven tries in as many games at the Rugby World Cup in 2019, making him the first Welshman to hold the top try-scoring position.
Wales Tentative Squad
Veteran coach Warren Gatland named a 54-man squad at the beginning on May headlined by the Joe Hawkins omission, although Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric and Rhys Webb have since announced their shock retirements. Meanwhile, Cory Hill has withdrawn to pursue a club contract opportunity. Prop Rhys Carre has also been released.
Corey Domachowski, Kemsley Mathias, Nicky Smith, Gareth Thomas, Eliott Dee, Ryan Elias, Dewi Lake, Ken Owens, Keiron Assiratti, Tomas Francis, Will Davies-King, Dillon Lewis, Henry Thomas, Adam Beard, Ben Carter, Rhys Davies, Dafydd Jenkins, Alun Wyn Jones, Will Rowlands, Christ Tshiunza, Teddy Williams, Taine Basham, Taulupe Faletau, Dan Lydiate, Josh Macleod, Jac Morgan, Tommy Reffell, Justin Tipuric, Aaron Wainwright
Gareth Davies, Kieran Hardy, Rhys Webb, Tomos Williams, Gareth Anscombe, Dan Biggar, Sam Costelow, Owen Williams, Mason Grady, Max Llewellyn, George North, Joe Roberts, Nick Tompkins, Johnny Williams, Keiran Williams, Josh Adams, Alex Cuthbert, Rio Dyer, Cai Evans, Leigh Halfpenny, Louis Rees-Zammit, Tom Rogers, Liam Williams