Wales’ national anthem and its rugby team have a long and proud history.
It was back in 1905 that “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau” (“Land of My Fathers”) was first sung before a match, when the mighty All Blacks visited Cardiff Arms Park.
Facing the prospect of 80 minutes against a side previously unbeaten in international rugby, the Welsh Rugby Union and Western Mail newspaper hatched a plan to intimidate their visitors.
As New Zealand captain Dave Gallacher led his side into the famous pre-match haka, the 15 Welsh players and the fans packed into the ground began to sing.
Watch a video of the anthem below
“Imagine some 40,000 people singing their national anthem with all the fervour of which the Celtic heart is capable,” Gallacher later wrote. “It was the most impressive incident I have ever witnessed on a football field. It gave a semi-religious solemnity to this memorable contest, intensely thrilling, even awe-inspiring. It was a wonderful revelation of the serious spirit in which the Welsh take their football.”
The ploy worked, with Wales beating the All Blacks 3-0 and thus ending their 27-match winning streak.
It is no wonder the tradition continued. To this day, there are few better sounds in world sport than tens of thousands of passionate Welsh men and women blasting out the anthem before a game of rugby.
Lyrics (in Welsh)
Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi,
Gwlad beirdd a chantorion, enwogion o fri;
Ei gwrol ryfelwyr, gwladgarwyr tra mad,
Dros ryddid collasant eu gwaed.
Gwlad, gwlad, pleidiol wyf i’m gwlad.
Tra môr yn fur i’r bur hoff bau,
O bydded i’r hen iaith barhau.
Hen Gymru fynyddig, paradwys y bardd,
Pob dyffryn, pob clogwyn, i’m golwg sydd hardd;
Trwy deimlad gwladgarol, mor swynol yw si
Ei nentydd, afonydd, i fi.
Os treisiodd y gelyn fy ngwlad tan ei droed,
Mae hen iaith y Cymry mor fyw ag erioed,
Ni luddiwyd yr awen gan erchyll law brad,
Na thelyn berseiniol fy ngwlad.
Lyrics (translated into English)
This land of my fathers is dear to me
Land of poets and singers, and people of stature
Her brave warriors, fine patriots
Shed their blood for freedom
Land! Land! I am true to my land!
As long as the sea serves as a wall for this pure, dear land
May the language endure for ever.
Old land of the mountains, paradise of the poets,
Every valley, every cliff a beauty guards;
Through love of my country, enchanting voices will be
Her streams and rivers to me.
Though the enemy have trampled my country underfoot,
The old language of the Welsh knows no retreat,
The spirit is not hindered by the treacherous hand
Nor silenced the sweet harp of my land.
History of the anthem
“Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (translated in English as ‘Land of my Fathers’) is Wales’ National anthem. It was written in 1856 by Evan James and his son, James James. The original name of the song was Glan Rhondda.
“The father and son were from Pontypridd, Glamorgan, where there is a memorial to them in Ynysangharad Park. The earliest written copy is part of the collections of the National Library of Wales.
“The music is also used by Cornwall, ‘Bro Goth Agan Tasow’, and in Brittany, ‘Bro Gozh ma Zadoù.
“The first recorded occasion of a National Anthem being sung before an international sporting occasion was in 1905. The Welsh crowd sang Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau in response to the New Zealand rugby team’s traditional haka at the Cardiff Arms Park.
“These days Welsh National Anthem can be heard sung passionately before our international rugby and football matches.”