Spain national rugby union team

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Spain
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s) Los Leones
Emblem Lion
Union Spanish Rugby Federation
Head coach Santiago Santos
Captain Jesús Recuerda Núñez
Most caps Francisco Puertas (93)
Top scorer Esteban Roqué Segovia (270)
Top try scorer César Sempere (31)
Home stadium Estadio Nacional Complutense
First colours
Second colours
World Rugby ranking
Current 22 (as of 6 March 2016)
Highest 18 (2013)
Lowest 32 (2005)
First international
Spain 9–0 Italy
(Barcelona, Spain; 20 May 1929)
Biggest win
Spain 90–8 Czech Republic
(Madrid, Spain; 2 April 1995)
Biggest defeat
Spain 10–92 Australia
(Madrid, Spain; 1 November 2001)
World Cup
Appearances 1 (First in 1999)
Best result Pool stage, 1999
Website www.ferugby.es

The Spain national rugby union team, nicknamed Los Leones, represent Spain in rugby union. Rugby union in Spain is administered by the Spanish Rugby Federation. The team annually takes part in the European Nations Cup, the highest European rugby championship outside the Six Nations. As of 6 March 2015, Spain is ranked 22nd in the world.

Rugby union in Spain dates back to 1901, although Spain did not play its first international until 1929, beating Italy 9-0 in Barcelona. Throughout the century, Spain mostly played against other European opponents such as France, Italy, Romania , West Germany, the Soviet Union, and Portugal. The team's greatest moment of success came in 1999, when Spain qualified for the 1999 Rugby World Cup. Despite being whitewashed, the team performed admirably in a group which included South Africa and Scotland.

Today, Spain competes in the European Nations Cup against Georgia, Germany, Portugal, Romania, and Russia. Spain has never been crowned European champions, though has come close. The closest they've come to becoming European champions was in 2012, having beaten both Romania and Georgia and finishing second. Many players have moved abroad to play professionally in France, in hopes of qualifying for the 2019 or possibly expanded 2023 editions of the World Cup.[1]

History[edit]

Early history and amateur era[edit]

The exact starting point of rugby union in Spain is unknown; Catalan student Baldiri Aleu introduced the game from France to a mainstream Spanish audience in 1921, but the game might have been played on Spanish soil earlier.[2] Through the 1920s, the game gradually gained popularity through universities in the country. The first Copa del Rey de Rugby was organized in 1926, and won by Barcelona. An unofficial Spanish XV played France, including Yves du Manoir, in 1927, but it was organised by a rebel governing body.[3]

Spain played their first officially recognised match in 1929, winning 9-0 over Italy in the Estadi Olímpic de Montjuïc.[3] During the 1930s the Spanish rugby team played sporadically in the 1930s, playing against the national teams of Italy, Morocco, Germany, and Portugal. Due to the outbreak of World War II, rugby in much of Europe was suspended, and this included Spain. Rugby operations throughout Europe were continued in the 1950s; through this decade the Spanish struggled to the likes of West Germany, Italy and Romania. This pattern of consistency continued somewhat in the 1960s and 1970s; Spain traditionally struggled versus more established opponents such as Romania and Italy, but beat other neighboring sides such as Portugal and Morocco. However, while no official games were played between Spain and the Home Nations or the SANZAR, some Spanish sides traveled to play against various foreign sides.[4]

The 1980s proved to be somewhat of a golden age for Spanish rugby; for the first time Spain played against non-FIRA competition, playing a test against both the Māori All Blacks as well as South American giants Argentina in November 1982, in Madrid. The Spanish were thrashed 66 to 3 to the Māori, but came close to upsetting Argentina, losing only 28 to 19. The Spanish also received Zimbabwe through various tests in the 80s. The Spanish recorded upsets, defeating Zimbabwe in Harare in 1984, winning 30-18. Even more impressive, the Spanish swept a two-game tour in Zimbabwe, a team that had appeared in the 1987 Rugby World Cup, winning 28-16 and 14-9 in Bulawayo and Harare. Other notable results in this period included beating Uruguay 18-6, as well as giving scares to the sides of England and Scotland, and coming within 10 points of beating the Māori in 1988. By the end of the 80s, Spain was considered one of the best non-5 Nations teams in Europe, just barely behind Romania, Italy, and the Soviet Union. Spain officially joined the IRB in 1987, after not being invited for the 1987 Rugby World Cup, despite the USSR declining an invitation.

Professional era (1989 - present)[edit]

Spain playing the Czech Republic
Spain playing against Portugal.

The 1990s provided a mixed fortune of both near misses and eventual success. In the 1991 qualifying rounds, Spain easily toppled its first group consisting of the Netherlands, Poland and Belgium, all games being played at home. However, Spain very narrowly missed on qualifying for the Rugby World Cup, losing 19 - 6 against Romania, finishing third behind Italy and Romania. In 1992, Spain finally beat Romania for the first time in 1992, winning 6-0. Spain again nearly beat Argentina that same year, only losing 43 to 34 in a shootout in Madrid.

1995 began in similar fashion to the 1991 campaign, easily toppling the first group. However, Spain were unfortunately placed in a group with Wales, losing the key fixture 54 - 0, and again coming close, yet not close enough.

Spain began their quest for 1999 Rugby World Cup qualification in Pool 3 of Round B of the European qualification. They won all four of their games in the round, finishing first in the group above Portugal. They, along with Portugal advanced to the next pool round with Scotland. They finished second and qualified for their first Rugby World Cup.

For the 1999 Rugby World Cup, Spain were in Pool A, along with Scotland, South Africa and Uruguay. Their first ever World Cup game was played against Uruguay, with Spain losing 27-15. They lost their subsequent pool games to Scotland and the Springboks by 40 points, both of which were played at Murrayfield. They failed to score a try in the tournament, the only team in the World to have qualified but not scored a try in the World cup.

Spain began 2003 Rugby World Cup qualifying games in May 2002. Spain advanced to Round 3 after defeating Portugal. However, they lost to both Italy and Romania, and moved through to face Russia for a place in the repechage competition. Despite losing the first game in Madrid 3-36, and looking dead in the water, Spain pulled off a very unlikely victory, winning 38-22. Despite losing on aggregate, Spain went through the repechage due to Russia being disqualified for fielding ineligible players. They defeated Tunisia and moved on to face the United States. Spain lost 62 - 13 and 58 - 13, again missing out on the World Cup.

For the 2007 Rugby World Cup, Spain finished at the top of Pool A or Round 2 of the European qualification and advanced to Round 3 where they went into Pool A. Here they won all four fixtures to finish at the top and advance to the play-off. There they faced Germany, and although they lost the first game, they won the second and went through on a 42-28 aggregate and went into Round 4 where they defeated the Czech Republic to enter Round 5. However they lost out to Romania and Georgia in Pool B, ending their hopes of reaching the World Cup in France.

Spain missed the qualification for the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, this time struggling through their fixtures. They lost 8 of their 10 fixtures, beating only Germany those two times, and missed out on advancing to the next round of qualifying.

Spain entered the top 20 in the IRB ranking in February 2012 for the first time following a 25-18 win over the higher ranked Georgia, and Spain remained in the top 20 throughout the year, ending 2012 ranked 18th.[5] Despite this, the 2015 campaign was similarly disastrous, winning only two of their games as well as two draws. This led to a restructure of the makeup and strategies of the FER.[1] Spain has recently participated in the World Rugby Nations Cup and the 2014 IRB Tbilisi Cup.

Strip[edit]

Historically, Spain's kit reflected the colours of Spain; a red jersey with blue shorts deriving from the House of Bourbon. Previously, during the 1980s and 1990s, the Spanish team wore a yellow top.[6] The current home kit consists of a red shirt with a triangular pattern and black on the waist sides, dark blue shorts and dark blue socks, while the away kit consists of a dark blue jersey, red waist sides, dark blue shorts and dark blue socks.

In 2013, it was announced that O'Neills, one of Ireland's most notable sporting brands, would be providing the new kits for Spain. This partnership is expected to last for the rest of the decade.[7][8] The team has been previously sponsored by Orange and Renfe, and previous kit providers include Canterbury, Westport and Viator.

Record[edit]

European Nations Cup & FIRA Trophy[edit]

FIRA Nations Cup (1965 – 1973)
Nation Games Points Table
points
Championships
played won drawn lost for against difference
 France 26 25 0 1 824 198 +626 65 7
 Romania 26 17 1 8 528 222 +306 51 1
 Czechoslovakia 17 2 2 13 135 411 –267 16 0
 Morocco 9 2 0 7 65 332 –267 13 0
 Italy 13 4 1 8 86 227 –141 12 0
 West Germany 10 1 1 8 81 132 –51 6 0
 Spain 3 1 0 2 56 55 +1 5 0
 Poland 3 0 0 3 19 132 –113 3 0
 Portugal 3 0 0 3 23 108 –85 0 0
Season Division Games Won Drew Lost PF PA Points Position
2000 1 5 2 0 3 109 105 9 4th
2001–02 1 10 3 0 7 246 247 16 4th
2003–04 1 10 0 1 9 129 335 11 6th
2004–06 2 8 7 1 0 364 87 23 1st
2007–08 1 10 4 0 6 233 240 18 4th
2008–10 1 10 2 0 8 145 304 14 5th
2010–12 1A 10 5 0 5 225 275 26 3rd
2012–14 1A 10 2 2 6 159 243 15 4th
2014–16 1A 10 4 1 5 232 207 23 4th

Note: Green signifies promotion; red signifies relegation.

Rugby World Cup record[edit]

World Cup record World Cup qualification record
Year Finished P W D L F A P W D L F A
AustraliaNew Zealand 1987 Not invited
United KingdomRepublic of IrelandFrance 1991 Did not qualify 6 4 0 2 159 94
South Africa 1995 5 4 0 1 179 94
Wales 1999 Pool Stage 3 0 0 3 18 122 6 5 0 1 182 144
Australia 2003 Did not qualify 9 2 0 7 158 359
France 2007 14 10 1 3 528 224
New Zealand 2011 10 2 0 8 145 304
England 2015 10 2 2 6 159 243
Total 1/8 3 0 0 3 18 122 60 29 3 28 1510 1462

Overall[edit]

Top 30 rankings as of 11 July 2016[9]
Rank Change* Team Points
1 Steady  New Zealand 96.10
2 Steady  England 89.49
3 Steady  South Africa 86.32
4 Steady  Australia 84.43
5 Steady  Wales 82.49
6 Steady  Ireland 81.67
7 Steady  France 80.75
8 Steady  Scotland 80.44
9 Steady  Argentina 80.20
10 Steady  Fiji 75.49
11 Steady  Georgia 75.23
12 Steady  Japan 74.95
13 Steady  Italy 72.23
14 Steady  Samoa 71.37
15 Steady  Tonga 69.47
16 Steady  Romania 68.74
17 Steady  United States 65.60
18 Steady  Canada 64.53
19 Steady  Uruguay 63.56
20 Steady  Namibia 62.28
21 Steady  Russia 61.91
22 Steady  Hong Kong 59.03
23 Steady  Spain 58.79
24 Increase2  Kenya 58.58
25 Decrease1  Belgium 57.94
26 Decrease1  Germany 57.71
27 Steady  Ukraine 56.95
28 Steady  Chile 55.73
29 Steady  South Korea 54.85
30 Steady  Portugal 54.29
*Change from the previous week
Opponent Played Won Lost Drawn Win % For Aga Diff
 Andorra 3 3 0 0 100.00% 129 43 +86
 Argentina 4 0 4 0 0.00% 75 149 -74
Argentina Argentina XV 2 0 2 0 0.00% 13 56 -43
 Australia 1 0 1 0 0.00% 10 92 -82
 Australia A 1 0 1 0 0.00% 3 36 -33
 Belgium 14 12 1 1 85.71% 414 82 -332
Barbarians 1 0 1 0 0.00% 26 52 -26
 Canada 1 0 1 0 0.00% 22 60 -38
 Chile 4 3 2 0 60.00% 141 86 +55
 Croatia 2 1 0 1 50.00% 84 42 +42
 Czech Republic 8 6 2 0 75.00% 340 116 +224
 Czechoslovakia 5 2 2 1 40.00% 69 63 +6
 Denmark 1 1 0 0 100.00% 53 13 +40
 England 1 0 1 0 0.00% 9 31 -22
 England XV 1 0 1 0 0.00% 3 34 -31
England England Saxons 4 0 4 0 0.00% 34 233 -201
England England Counties 2 0 2 0 0.00% 21 76 -55
 Fiji 1 0 1 0 0.00% 20 39 -19
 France XV 26 0 26 0 0.00% 217 1219 -1003
 France A 1 0 1 0 0.00% 15 30 -15
France French Universities 1 1 0 0 100.00% 27 25 +2
 Georgia 17 3 13 1 17.64% 260 547 -287
 Germany 11 7 3 1 70.00% 226 147 +79
 Hungary 1 1 0 0 100.00% 63 9 +54
 Italy 27 3 23 1 12.50% 187 581 -394
 Italy A 1 0 1 0 0.00% 0 37 -37
 Japan 3 0 3 0 0.00% 43 114 -71
 Kenya 1 0 1 0 0.00% 36 27 -9
 Moldova 1 1 0 0 100.00% 40 7 +33
 Morocco 21 13 6 0 61.90% 332 148 +148
 Namibia 3 3 0 0 100.00% 91 60 +31
 Netherlands 14 13 0 1 92.85% 394 107 -287
New Zealand New Zealand Māori 2 0 2 0 0.00% 15 88 -73
 Poland 16 10 6 0 62.50% 320 207 +113
 Portugal 37 24 10 0 64.86% 769 524 +245
 Romania 34 2 32 0 5.88% 329 1001 -672
 Russia 19 4 15 0 21.05% 442 587 -145
 Scotland 1 0 1 0 0.00% 0 48 -48
 Scotland XV 4 0 4 0 0.00% 34 211 -177
 Scotland A 3 0 3 0 0.00% 37 110 -73
 Slovenia 1 1 0 0 100.00% 76 6 +70
 South Africa 1 0 1 0 0.00% 3 47 -44
South Africa Emerging Springboks 1 0 1 0 0.00% 13 28 -15
 Soviet Union 7 4 3 0 57.14% 138 74 +64
 Sweden 2 2 0 0 100.00% 58 29 +29
  Switzerland 1 1 0 0 100.00% 40 0 +40
 Tunisia 7 6 1 0 85.71% 164 66 +98
 Ukraine 2 2 0 0 100.00% 76 38 +48
 United States 3 0 3 0 0.00% 29 169 -149
 Uruguay 7 3 4 0 42.85% 91 145 -54
 Wales 1 0 1 0 0.00% 0 54 -54
 Wales XV 1 1 0 0 100.00% 25 7 +18
 Wales A 1 0 1 0 0.00% 9 80 -71
 West Germany 10 4 5 1 40.00% 137 96 +41
 Yugoslavia 4 4 0 0 100.00% 86 17 +69
 Zimbabwe 7 5 2 0 71.42% 153 108 +45
Total 356 147 201 8 48.83% 6458 8118 -1660

Players[edit]

Current squad[edit]

Spain squad for the 21 November 2015 end-of-year test against Chile in Torrelavega.[10]

Head Coach: Spain Santiago Santos

  • Caps Updated: 7 November 2015

Note: Flags indicate national union for the club/province as defined by World Rugby.

Player Position Date of Birth (Age) Caps Club/province
Beñat Auzqui Hooker (1983-08-01) 1 August 1983 (age 32) 20 France Bordeaux Bègles
Juan Anaya Lazaro Hooker (1986-06-26) 26 June 1986 (age 30) 19 Ireland Galwegians
Francisco Blanco Prop (1988-06-30) 30 June 1988 (age 28) 6 Spain Cisneros
Xerom Civil Prop (1994-04-02) 2 April 1994 (age 22) 0 France Bordeaux Bègles
Jonathan García Prop (1983-04-16) 16 April 1983 (age 33) 0 France Bourgoin
Fernando Martin López Perez Prop (1986-03-14) 14 March 1986 (age 30) 7 France Massy
Aníbal Bonán Lock (1984-06-10) 10 June 1984 (age 32) 14 France Stade Bagnérais
David Barrera Howarth Lock (1989-07-05) 5 July 1989 (age 27) 17 France RC Vannes
Jesus Recuerda Nunez Lock (1986-09-29) 29 September 1986 (age 29) 36 France Libourne
Gauthier Gibouin Flanker (1989-03-24) 24 March 1989 (age 27) 23 France Montauban
Asier Usarraga Flanker (1994-12-31) 31 December 1994 (age 21) 0 France Biarritz Olympique
Jaime Nava de Olano Number 8 (1983-05-01) 1 May 1983 (age 33) 55 France Stade Dijonnais
Afa Taulí Number 8 (1990-04-29) 29 April 1990 (age 26) 0 Spain Santboiana
Gregory Maiquez Scrum-half (1985-09-07) 7 September 1985 (age 30) 6 France Bressane
Guillaume Rouet Scrum-half (1988-08-13) 13 August 1988 (age 27) 6 France Bayonne
Mathieu Bélie Fly-half (1988-02-20) 20 February 1988 (age 28) 0 France Perpignan
Christophe Ruiz Fly-half (1984-05-29) 29 May 1984 (age 32) 0 France Narbonne
Fabien Grammatico Centre (1985-05-16) 16 May 1985 (age 31) 1 France Carcassonne
Thibault Visensang Centre (1991-01-09) 9 January 1991 (age 25) 3 France Bayonne
Sergi Aubanell Wing (1989-09-04) 4 September 1989 (age 26) 12 France Aurillac
Sebastien Ascarat Wing (1988-05-30) 30 May 1988 (age 28) 8 France Montauban
Julen Goia Iriberri Wing (1991-12-12) 12 December 1991 (age 24) 8 France Mauléon
Brad Linklater Fullback (1985-05-16) 16 May 1985 (age 31) 5 Spain Getxo Artea

Notable players[edit]

Coaches[edit]

Spanish Rugby Coaches
Name Tenure Tests Won Drew Lost Win %
New Zealand Bryce Bevin 1993 – 97, 2012 – 13 42 21 3 18 50%
Spain Alfonso Feijoo 1997 – 03 48 14 0 34 29.16%
England Gerard Glynn 2004 – 10 46 20 2 24 43.47%
France Régis Sonnes 2010 – 12 13 7 0 6 53.84%
Spain Santiago Santos 2013 – 24 8 0 16 33.33%

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Blog De la Calle: Rugby español, ni español ni... (in Spanish)". Eurosport. 25 February 2016. Retrieved 10 March 2016. 
  2. ^ "Historia del Rugby: España". Rugby de Calle. 17 September 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Richards, Huw A Game for Hooligans: The History of Rugby Union (Mainstream Publishing, Edinburgh, 2007, ISBN 978-1-84596-255-5); Chapter 6, Gathering Storms, p129
  4. ^ "80 años de historia". Arquitectura Rugby. Retrieved 11 March 2016. 
  5. ^ IRB.com, 2012 in review: Highs and lows in rankings, Jan. 7, 2013, http://www.irb.com/rankings/news/newsid=2064835.html
  6. ^ Spain Rugby Shirts, oldrugbyshirts.com, retrieved March 17, 2016 
  7. ^ New Spain Rugby Shirt 2014/2015- Spanish Home Rugby Kit 14/15, New Rugby Kits, November 20, 2013, retrieved March 17, 2016 
  8. ^ Browne, PJ (February 4, 2015), Check Out The Spanish Rugby Team's Jersey Made By O'Neills, Balls.ie, retrieved March 17, 2016 
  9. ^ "World Rankings". World Rugby. Retrieved 11 July 2016. 
  10. ^ Convocatoria de la Selección Española XV