In Depth

Wales celebrates as rugby and football teams outdo England

Welsh sport is on the march, and the English would do well to take note and learn from its virtues

These are heady times for Welsh sport. After the rugby team overturned the odds to beat England and qualify for the quarter-finals of the rugby world cup despite a shocking injury crisis, the national football team went one better and made it to Euro 2016.

After 58 years without an appearance at a major tournament Chris Coleman's side were confirmed in the draw for France next summer at the weekend, despite losing to Bosnia. And they rounded of their qualifying campaign on Tuesday night with a 2-0 win over Andorra in Cardiff.

In the event the performance was "patchy" against the Group B whipping boys, but "that did not detract from the party atmosphere at a delirious Cardiff City Stadium", says the BBC.

"With Welsh band Super Furry Animals playing a three-song set before kick-off and the home fans rattling through their repertoire of chants at full volume, the match almost seemed secondary to the jamboree in the stands."

Second half goals from Wales's two biggest stars, Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal and Real Madrid star Gareth Bale, ensured victory.

"Wales and Welsh sport are an example to the glum English," says Paul Hayward of the Daily Telegraph, with one eye on the rugby.

The spirit that the Welsh have shown, and their refusal to accept defeat in the face of huge odds should act as inspiration for the English as they pick over the wreckage of their Rugby World Cup campaign.

But that is not all that England can learn from the Welsh. "Theirs is a more atmospheric national stadium than either Wembley or Twickenham; their starting football XI contains a better player than any of England's (Bale), and a better centre-back, in Ashley Williams.

"In other sports, too, the country fights above its population weight. Think of the Olympic champion cyclists, Nicole Cooke and Geraint Thomas, or the boxers Joe Calzaghe (retired) and Lee Selby. In cricket, Cardiff now often stages an Ashes Test."

What counts in a modern athlete is "experience and character and individual talent", he says. "Sport in Wales has all those virtues. So, a suggestion for English rugby's coroners: drive to the Severn, have the toll money ready."

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