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The Spain national rugby union team, nicknamed Los Leones, 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. The national side is ranked 17th in the world (as of 12th October 2019).

Spain
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s)Los Leones
EmblemLion
UnionSpanish Rugby Federation
Head coachSantiago Santos
CaptainJesús Recuerda Núñez
Most capsFrancisco Puertas (93)
Top scorerEsteban Roqué Segovia (270)
Top try scorerCésar Sempere (31)
Home stadiumEstadio Nacional Complutense
First colours
Second colours
World Rugby ranking
Current16 (as of 13 Oct 2019)
Highest16 (2019)
Lowest32 (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
Appearances1 (First in 1999)
Best resultPool stage, 1999
Websitewww.ferugby.es

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]

HistoryEdit

Early history and amateur eraEdit

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 66–3 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.

World Cup begins (1987–2009)Edit

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.

 
Spain playing against the Czech Republic in 2007.

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 43–34 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.

 
Spain playing against Portugal in 2013.

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.

2010–presentEdit

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.

The 2019 qualifying saw the team markedly improve; in 2017 they beat Germany, Russia and Belgium, and lost narrowly to Romania at home. The Spaniards started 2018 with great fortune, as they defeated Russia on their home soil for the first time since 2002, and defeated Romania for the first time since 2012.[citation needed] With both of these victories, Spain led their qualifying group and looked set for a possible qualification at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, but a controversial defeat at Belgium in the last round, and a heavy deduction of points because of fielding of illegible players, ended their hopes.

StripEdit

Historically, Spain's kit reflected the colours of Spain; a red jersey with blue shorts deriving from the House of Bourbon. 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; previously, during the 1980s and 1990s, the Spanish team wore a yellow top as away kit.[6]

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.

Currently, the kits are provided by Joma since 2016. Since 2017, Generali is the current sponsor.

RecordEdit

European Nations Cup & FIRA TrophyEdit

FIRA Nations Cup (1965 – 1973)
Nation Games Points Table
points
Champs
played won drawn lost for against diff
  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
2017 1A 5 3 0 2 91 54 13 3rd
2018 1A 5 3 0 2 147 66 13 3rd
2019 1A 5 4 0 1 127 75 18 2nd

Note: Green signifies promotion; red signifies relegation. Italic signifies current competition.

Rugby World Cup recordEdit

World Cup record World Cup qualification record
Year Finished P W D L F A P W D L F A
   1987 Not invited
    1991 Did not qualify 6 4 0 2 159 94
  1995 5 4 0 1 179 94
  1999 Pool Stage 3 0 0 3 18 122 6 5 0 1 182 144
  2003 Did not qualify 9 2 0 7 158 359
  2007 14 10 1 3 528 224
  2011 10 2 0 8 145 304
  2015 10 2 2 6 159 243
  2019 8 6 0 2 217 85
Total 1/8 3 0 0 3 18 122 68 35 3 30 1727 1547

OverallEdit

Top 30 rankings as of 14 October 2019[9]
Rank Change* Team Points
1     New Zealand 090.98
2     Wales 088.87
3     England 088.13
4     Ireland 085.93
5     South Africa 085.75
6     Australia 083.52
7  1   Japan 082.08
8  1   France 081.38
9     Scotland 079.23
10     Argentina 078.31
11     Fiji 076.21
12     Italy 072.04
13  3   Tonga 071.44
14     Georgia 071.26
15     Samoa 070.72
16  1   Spain 068.15
17  4   United States 068.10
18     Uruguay 067.41
19     Romania 066.69
20     Russia 063.09
21     Portugal 061.33
22     Canada 061.12
23     Namibia 061.01
24     Hong Kong 059.64
25     Netherlands 058.46
26     Brazil 057.84
27     Belgium 057.35
28     Germany 054.96
29     Chile 054.56
30      Switzerland 053.19
*Change from the previous week

Below is table of the representative rugby matches played by a Spain national XV at test level up until 17 November 2018.[10]

Opponent Played Won Lost Drawn Win % For Aga Diff
  Andorra 3 3 0 0 100.00% 129 3 +126
  Argentina 4 0 4 0 0.00% 75 149 –74
  Argentina XV 2 0 2 0 0.00% 13 81 –68
  Argentina Jaguars 1 0 1 0 0.00% 7 41 –34
  Australia 1 0 1 0 0.00% 10 92 –82
  Australia A 1 0 1 0 0.00% 3 36 –33
Barbarians 1 0 1 0 0.00% 26 52 –26
  Belgium 16 13 2 1 81.25% 454 100 +354
  Brazil 1 1 0 0 100.00% 67 28 +39
  Canada 2 0 2 0 0.00% 49 97 –48
  Chile 5 3 2 0 60.00% 151 86 +65
  Croatia 2 1 0 1 50.00% 84 35 +49
  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
  Emerging England 1 0 1 0 0.00% 17 86 –69
  England U23 2 0 2 0 0.00% 19 31 –12
  Fiji 1 0 1 0 0.00% 20 39 –19
  France XV 24 1 23 0 4.17% 283 1075 –792
  French Military 4 1 2 1 25.00% 34 52 –18
  Georgia 19 3 15 1 15.79% 280 590 –310
  Germany 13 9 3 1 69.23% 359 179 +180
  Hungary 1 1 0 0 100.00% 63 9 +54
  Italy 27 3 23 1 11.11% 187 581 –394
  Emerging Italy 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 20 13 5 0 65.00% 332 142 +190
  Namibia 7 5 2 0 71.42% 178 156 +22
  Netherlands 14 13 0 1 92.86% 394 107 +287
  New Zealand Māori 2 0 2 0 0.00% 15 88 –73
  Poland 16 10 6 0 62.50% 320 207 +113
  Portugal 36 24 10 2 66.67% 769 524 +245
  Romania 36 3 33 0 8.33% 363 1041 –678
  Royal Air Force 4 0 2 2 0.00% 26 59 –33
  Russia 21 5 16 0 23.81% 471 613 –142
  Scotland 1 0 1 0 0.00% 0 48 –48
  Scotland XV 4 0 4 0 0.00% 34 211 –177
  Scotland A 1 0 1 0 0.00% 7 39 –32
  Slovenia 1 1 0 0 100.00% 76 6 +70
  South Africa 1 0 1 0 0.00% 3 47 –44
  Soviet Union 7 0 7 0 0.00% 60 152 –92
  Sweden 2 2 0 0 100.00% 58 30 +28
   Switzerland 1 1 0 0 100.00% 40 0 +40
  Tonga 1 0 1 0 0.00% 13 28 –15
  Tunisia 5 4 1 0 80.00% 141 51 +90
  Ukraine 2 2 0 0 100.00% 76 19 +57
  United States 3 0 3 0 0.00% 29 169 –149
  Uruguay 11 5 6 0 45.45% 156 211 –55
  Wales 1 0 1 0 0.00% 0 54 –54
  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 71.43% 153 108 +45
Total 369 149 205 15 40.38% 6817 8109 –1292

PlayersEdit

Current squadEdit

Spanish squad for their 2019 Rugby Europe Championship.

Head Coach:   Santiago Santos

  • Caps Updated: 11 March 2019

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

Player Position Date of birth (age) Caps Club/province
Quentin García Hooker (1991-05-18) 18 May 1991 (age 28) 6   SO Chambérien
Beñat Auzqui Prop (1983-08-01) 1 August 1983 (age 36) 38   US Tyrosse
Xerom Civil Prop (1994-04-02) 2 April 1994 (age 25) 11   US Carcassonne
Baptiste Custoja Prop (1993-05-20) 20 May 1993 (age 26) 5   Provence Rugby
Fernando Martín López Prop (1986-03-14) 14 March 1986 (age 33) 37   Ordizia RE
Joz Zabala Prop (1996-11-26) 26 November 1996 (age 22) 6   Aviron Bayonnais
Mickael De Marco Lock (1989-04-22) 22 April 1989 (age 30) 4   SU Agen
Manuel Mora Lock (1985-03-08) 8 March 1985 (age 34) 13   Independiente RC
Josh Peters Lock (1995-10-12) 12 October 1995 (age 24) 4   Blackheath FC
Victor Sánchez Borrego Lock (1987-06-20) 20 June 1987 (age 32) 12   CR El Salvador
Michael Walter-Fitton Lock (1986-10-02) 2 October 1986 (age 33) 2   CR El Salvador
Pierre Barthère Flanker (1989-06-03) 3 June 1989 (age 30) 15   Rouen Normandie
Oier Goia Flanker (1991-12-12) 12 December 1991 (age 27) 4   Ordizia KE
Lucas Guillaume Flanker (1991-04-15) 15 April 1991 (age 28) 13   RC Narbonne
Michael Hogg Flanker (1991-07-10) 10 July 1991 (age 28) 2   FC Barcelona
Asier Usarraga Flanker (1994-12-31) 31 December 1994 (age 24) 5   Biarritz Olympique
Kalokalo Gavidi Number 8 (1981-11-29) 29 November 1981 (age 37) 13   VRAC
Kerman Aurrekoetxea Scrum-half (2000-05-04) 4 May 2000 (age 19) 0   CR El Salvador
Facundo Munilla Scrum-half (1995-05-16) 16 May 1995 (age 24) 0   Alcobendas Rugby
Guillaume Rouet Scrum-half (1988-08-13) 13 August 1988 (age 31) 19   Aviron Bayonnais
Lucas Rubio Scrum-half (1991-05-29) 29 May 1991 (age 28) 4   SU Agen
Álvar Gimeno Fly-half (1997-12-15) 15 December 1997 (age 21) 12   VRAC
David Mélé Fly-half (1985-10-22) 22 October 1985 (age 33) 1   USA Perpignan
Andrew Norton Fly-half (1990-04-11) 11 April 1990 (age 29) 1   CR Cisneros
Sébastien Rouet Fly-half (1985-02-19) 19 February 1985 (age 34) 22   RC Narbonne
Hugo Alonso Centre (1993-10-28) 28 October 1993 (age 25) 0   Stade Rodez Aveyron
Fabien Perrin Centre (1988-06-16) 16 June 1988 (age 31) 13   Bourg-en-Bresse
Andrea Rabago Centre (1996-05-13) 13 May 1996 (age 23) 6   Stade Dijonnais
Richard Stewart Centre (1990-11-04) 4 November 1990 (age 28) 4   CR Cisneros
Julen Goia Wing (1991-12-12) 12 December 1991 (age 27) 20   Ordizia KE
Jordi Jorba Wing (1997-05-08) 8 May 1997 (age 22) 16   USA Perpignan
Gauthier Minguillon Wing (1994-03-03) 3 March 1994 (age 25) 7   RC Valenciennois
Brad Linklater Fullback (1985-05-16) 16 May 1985 (age 34) 27   Alcobendas Rugby

Recent call-upsEdit

The following players were named to a squad in the last twelve months.

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

Player Position Date of birth (age) Caps Club/province
Juan Anaya Lazaro Hooker (1986-06-26) 26 June 1986 (age 33) 35   Alcobendas
Marco Pinto Ferrer Hooker (1987-11-11) 11 November 1987 (age 31) 16   Béziers
Jonathan García Prop (1984-12-05) 5 December 1984 (age 34) 8   Nevers
Jesús Moreno Prop (1986-01-24) 24 January 1986 (age 33) 48   Provence
David Barrera Howarth Lock (1989-07-05) 5 July 1989 (age 30) 32   Bourg-en-Bresse
Anibal Bonan Lock (1984-06-10) 10 June 1984 (age 35) 23   Bagnères
Matthew Foulds Lock (1991-04-27) 27 April 1991 (age 28) 5   El Salvador
Thibault Visensang Flanker (1991-01-09) 9 January 1991 (age 28) 6   Tyrosse
Jaime Nava Flanker (1983-05-01) 1 May 1983 (age 36) 74   Alcobendas
Gauthier Gibouin Number 8 (1989-03-24) 24 March 1989 (age 30) 37   Nevers
Charly Malié Fly-half (1991-11-05) 5 November 1991 (age 27) 9   Pau
Daniel Snee Fly-half (1984-04-30) 30 April 1984 (age 35) 28   Havelock North
Thibaut Álvarez Centre (1990-06-10) 10 June 1990 (age 29) 17   Aubenas
Iñaki Mateu Centre (1997-03-17) 17 March 1997 (age 22) 1   Alcobendas
Ignacio Contardi Wing (1991-03-08) 8 March 1991 (age 28) 22   Niort
Mathieu Peluchon Fullback (1987-06-23) 23 June 1987 (age 32) 14   Albi

Notable playersEdit

CoachesEdit

Spanish Rugby Coaches
Name Tenure Tests Won Drew Lost Win %
  Bryce Bevin 1993 – 97, 2012 – 13 42 21 3 18 50%
  Alfonso Feijoo 1997 – 03 48 14 0 34 29.16%
  Gerard Glynn 2004 – 10 46 20 2 24 43.47%
  Régis Sonnes 2010 – 12 13 7 0 6 53.84%
  Santiago Santos 2013 – 45 18 1 26 40.00%
  • Updated: 18 March 2018

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

ReferencesEdit

  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. Archived from the original on 13 October 2016. 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. ^ "Men's World Rankings". World Rugby. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  10. ^ Spain rugby statistics