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Wales’ Greatest XV

In a series of articles that put together several statistically-based teams for each major playing nation in the world of rugby, we next take a look at Wales and the best players to have represented the country.

We’ll start with the players with the most wins in total.

The Winners XV

The impact of Warren Gatland and his coaching team can be seen here with many of the players being synonymous with his time in charge of the national side.

From previous eras we see Garin Jenkins, Gareth Llewellyn, Colin Charvis, Tom Shanklin, Ieuan Evans and Gareth Thomas, at least some of whom would feature in a lot of supporters’ ‘all-time’ teams.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 26: Taulupe Faletau of Wales breaks with the ball during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool A match between England and Wales at Twickenham Stadium on September 26, 2015 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

1) Gethin Jenkins (59)
2) Garin Jenkins (34)
3) Adam Jones (47)
4) Alun Wyn Jones (46)
5) Gareth Llewellyn (38)
6) Colin Charvis (39)
7) Martyn Williams (39)
8) Taulupe Faletau (31)

9) Mike Phillips (44)
10) Stephen Jones (41)
11) Shane Williams (41)
12) Jamie Roberts (41)
13) Jonathan Davies (29) / Tom Shanklin (29)
14) Ieuan Evans (30) / George North (30)
15) Gareth Thomas (51)

Of course, the number of wins outright can be misleading. After all, many players in the amateur days simply did not take part in as many tests. Therefore a percentage XV made up of the players with the best winning percentages might offer a more accurate representation of the best individuals to have played for Wales.

This writer usually puts down 40 caps as a baseline for players’ inclusion, because if you have a handful of caps then it’s very easy to have a high winning percentage.

Percentage XV (40+ Caps)

1) Gethin Jenkins (48%)
2) Garin Jenkins (59%)
3) Graham Price (62%)
4) Ian Gough (50%)
5) Luke Charteris (52%)
6) Dan Lydiate (53%)
7) Justin Tipuric (61%)
8) Scott Quinnell (60%)

9) Gareth Edwards (71%)
10) Dan Biggar (54%)
11) Ken Jones (66%)
12) Jamie Roberts (52%)
13) Jonathan Davies (53%)
14) Gareth Thomas (54%)
15) JPR Williams (72%)

However, a number of the players from the so-called ‘golden age’ of Welsh rugby are missing here. So what would happen if we lowered the threshold to just 30 caps?

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Percentage XV (30+ Caps)

1) Denzil Williams (60%)
2) Bryn Meredith (63%)
3) Graham Price (62%)
4) Geoff Wheel (70%)
5) Allan Martin (69%)
6) Dai Morris (67%)
7) Justin Tipuric (61%)
8) Mervyn Davies (74%)

9) Dicky Owen (78%)
10) Jonathan Davies (59%)
11) Gerald Davies (73%)
12) Steve Fenwick (67%)
13) Scott Williams (59%)
14) JJ Williams (70%)
15) JPR Williams (72%)

A vastly different side and there are probably a fair few players here that would be the first names on most fans’ lists.

Lastly, we look at the highest try scorers in each position.

CARDIFF, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 22: Wales winger Shane Williams is tackled by Richie McCaw (ground) and Rodney So'oialo of the All Blacks during the Invesco Perpetual Series match between Wales and New Zealand All Blacks at the Millennium Stadium on November 22, 2008, in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

The Try Scorers XV

There are some pretty amazing stats here, which just goes to show that even if Wales hasn’t been the most consistent of nations throughout its history, it can still score huge numbers of tries with ease.

1) Gethin Jenkins (4)
2) Barry Williams (5)
3) Adam Jones (2)*
4) Alun Wyn Jones (9)
5) Gareth Llewellyn (5) / Craig Quinnell (5) / Jack Whitfield (5)
6) Colin Charvis (19)
7) Martyn Williams (12)
8) Scott Quinnell (11)

9) Gareth Edwards (20)
10) Arwel Thomas (11)
11) Shane Williams (58)
12) Tom Shanklin (16)
13) Jonathan Davies (12)
14) Ieuan Evans (33)
15) Kevin Morgan (12)

* Alban Davies, Graham Price and Archie Skym have all scored two tries for Wales.

It’s certainly never easy composing an ‘all-time’ list, but hopefully these XVs will help you to decide who would make your final team.

Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.