The most popular sports in Wales are football and rugby union. Wales, like other constituent nations of the UK, enjoys independent representation in major world sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup, Rugby World Cup and in the Commonwealth Games (however as Great Britain in the Olympics). The Millennium Stadium used by both the national football and rugby union teams is the national stadium. It holds 75,000 spectators.
Wales Sports Events – Rugby Union
As in New Zealand, rugby union is a core part of the national identity, although football is the preferred sport in north Wales. The professional era has seen major and controversial changes in the traditional structure of club rugby in Wales. Wales shares a single top flight rugby structure with Scotland and Ireland, the Magners League and plays in the EDF Energy Cup against teams from England. Wales is represented by four regional teams who also take part in the Heineken Cup and the European Challenge Cup. The Welsh national rugby union team takes part in the annual Six Nations Championship, and the Rugby World Cup.
Wales Sports Events – Football
The governing body for football in Wales is the Football Association of Wales. They run the national teams, the recreational game and the main cup competitions. Wales has its own top-flight, the Welsh Premier League, and has done so since 1992, but for historical reasons, six Welsh clubs (Cardiff City, Swansea City, Wrexham, Newport County, Merthy Tydfil and Colwyn Bay) play in the Football League and its feeder leagues. The main Welsh Cup competitions are the Welsh Cup and the FAW Premier Cup. The two feeder leagues which feed into the Welsh Premiership is the Cymru Alliance in the north, and the Welsh Football League in the south.
Wales Sports Events – Motorsport
The rugged terrain of the country also gives plenty of opportunities for rally driving and Wales currently hosts the finale of the World Rally Championship. Wales have had some notability in the World Rally Championship, producing two championship winning Co-Drivers, those being Nicky Grist, who helped Colin McRae to victory in 1996 and Phil Mills who helped Petter Solberg win the 2003 title. Two Welsh drivers have competed in the Formula One championship: the first was Alan Rees at the 1967 British Grand Prix, who finished in ninth position, four laps behind the winner, Jim Clark. Tom Pryce was the more notable of the two drivers, as he finished on the podium twice and, at the 1975 British Grand Prix, qualified in pole position. Pryce’s career was cut short after he collided with volunteer marshal, Jansen Van Vuuren, killing both instantly. Fred Williams was world speedway champion in 1950 and 1953, and the British Grand Prix – the United Kingdom’s round of the world championship – is held each year at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.