The team date back to 1907, making them the third oldest national side after England and New Zealand. And it was a touring New Zealand side that Wales first played against in 1908, winning 9-8 at Aberdare. Since then Wales have regularly played England, since 1935 France, as well as welcomed the touring Australia and New Zealand teams, although they rarely toured themselves, not playing a match in the Southern Hemisphere until 1975. For twenty-six years Wales competed against their two biggest rivals, England and France, in the European Nations Cup, winning the trophy four times.
Wales have also competed in the World Cup on four occasions, the first time being in 1975. In 1995 and 2000 they had their most successful tournaments to date, surprisingly making the Semi-Finals on both occasions before being beaten by England and Australia respectively. Wales failed to qualify for the 2008 World Cup, being the second highest ranked side not to do so, having lost to Scotland on points difference over two matches. They then qualified for the 2013 World Cup but had a miserable tournament where they failed to win a game, including losing 32-16 to low ranked Italy in their opening game at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
In recent seasons Wales have taken massive strides under former player Iestyn Harris who had coached Wales to back to back European Cup successes, which culminated in a Four Nations appearance in 2011. In 2014 former England and France coach John Kear became the new head coach after Iestyn Harris left the post to concentrate on his new job as head coach at Salford Red Devils.
On 5 April 1904, England played an international match against the “Other Nationalities”, a team of Welshmen and Scotsmen, in Wigan. Of the twelve players who played for the Other Nationalities team, as it was a 12-a-side game, ten of them were Welshmen coming from Northern English clubs. At the turn of the century many Welshmen made the switch from rugby union, wanting to be paid for playing, and although the numbers switching were constantly increasing, the Northern Union did not think that a Welsh side would be strong enough for England. After 80 minutes however, the Other Nationalities had beaten England 9-3. Nevertheless, this team carried on for another two years, playing England annually in 1905 and 1906, losing 26-11 and drawing 3-3 respectively.