5 greatest Welsh rugby players

We pick the best players of all time who’ve represented the Welsh rugby team, including a three-time Grand Slam winner and the youngest ever Lions captain.

Before and during rugby’s professional timeline, the Wales team has produced some of the greatest talent the sport has seen. From multiple Grand Slam winners to the youngest ever captains, many Welsh players have gained praise from international players.

Many rugby icons have donned Wales’ famous red jersey, but who are the greatest players to have represented their country? Read on to find out who we’ve named as the most exceptional Welsh rugby players of all time.

Gareth Edwards

1967-1978 | Wales caps: 53 | Points: 88 | British & Irish Lions caps: 10

Both homegrown and international rugby players regard Gareth Edwards as one of the greatest players of all time. Edwards still holds the title as the youngest ever Wales captain at just 20-years-old. However, the most memorable moment of his career was ‘that try’ for the Barbarians against the All Blacks in 1973 on home turf at Cardiff Arms Park. During Edwards’ illustrious career, Wales won the Five Nations Championship seven times including three Grand Slams.

JPR Williams

1969-1981 | Wales caps: 55 | Points: 36 | British & Irish Lions caps: 8

First capped at the age of 19, JPR Williams is a stalwart of Welsh Rugby Union holding 55 Welsh caps to his name. He is one of very few Welsh players to have won three Grand Slams in his international career. For the Lions, Williams’stunning drop goal sealed the 1971 series against the All Blacks. He was also part of the undefeated Lions series against South Africa in 1974. JPR Williams was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 1997.

Shane Williams

2000-2011 | Wales caps: 87 | Points: 290 | British & Irish Lions caps: 4

Once branded ‘too small to play rugby’, Shane Williams is Wales’ record try scorer with 58 tries under his belt. After making his debut in the 200o Six Nations-at just 11 stone - Williams went on to win two Grand Slam titles with Wales in 2005 and 2008. In 2008 Williams was named the World Rugby Player of the Year, beating the likes of Dan Carter and Sergio Parisse. In his swansong test against Australia, he scored with his last ever touch in International Rugby at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff. Williams’ also hold the title for Wales’ most-capped winger of all time.

Sam Warburton

2009-2017 | Wales caps: 74 | Points: 25 | British &Irish Lions caps: 5

Despite a career cut short due to injuries, Sam Warburton achieved phenomenal success in international rugby. Warburton made his debut for Wales in 2009. By 2011, he became Wales’ second youngest ever captain, leading the Welsh team out against the Barbarians at just 22-years-old. In 2013, Warburton went on to become the youngest ever British & Irish Lions Captain at 24 years-old. Four years later, Warburton ended his Lions career unbeaten with a series win in Australia and a draw in New Zealand.

Alun Wyn Jones

2006-present | Wales caps: 125 | Points: 45 | British & Irish Lions caps: 9

With 125 caps to his name, including 9 for the British & Irish Lions, Alun Wyn Jones is Wales’ joint most capped player. His gritty and passionate performances have firmly confirmed his status as a Wales legend, and the embodiment of Welsh rugby. He is one of a select few Welsh players who’ve won the Six Nations Grand Slam three times. In 2019 Wyn Jones masterfully captained his side to victory and picked up player of the tournament.

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