In every Five Nations and now Six Nations season the real showdown is always that between England and Wales: Wales with its history of playing the finest rugby of all the home nations, England with its enviable strength in depth and forward muscle. Whether in the vast bowl of Twickenham or the cauldron of the Millennium Stadium every year is a sell-out long in advance. Over the years there have been innumerable epic encounters. In the seventies Wales dominated with Barry John, Gareth Edwards at scrum-half and JPR Williams at full back, but England had the blistering running of David Duckham with his blond hair flying. The eighties and nineties saw some incendiary encounters with Paul Ringer and Wade Dooley both involved in high-profile punch-ups, but also England re-establishing dominance and Bill Beaumont and then Will Carling. But the decade ended at Wembley with Scott Gibbs's dramatic last-minute swallow-dive to snatch victory for Wales. More recently Wales have come back with new stars like Gavin Henson and Shane Williams after years of powerhouse England forward play had held sway. Huw Richards has talked to many veterans of these matches, as well as to present players and administrators to tells the whole history of Wales v England at rugby: a contest that is a clash of cultures and histories as well as a titanic sporting occasion. Huw Richards is rugby correspondent of the Financial Times.
Huw Richards is author of The Red and the White: The Story of England V Wales Rugby, A Game for Hooligans: The History of Rugby Union and Dragons and All Blacks, a history of rugby relations between Wales and New Zealand.