Spain
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s)Los Leones (The Lions)
EmblemLion
UnionSpanish Rugby Federation
Head coachSantiago Santos
CaptainFernando López
Most capsFrancisco Puertas (93)
Top scorerEsteban Roqué (285)
Top try scorerCésar Sempere (31)
Home stadiumEstadio Universidad Complutense de Madrid
First colours
Second colours
World Rugby ranking
Current20 (as of 11 September 2023)
Highest15 (2022)
Lowest32 (2004, 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[note 1] (First in 1999)
Best resultPool stage (1999)
Websiteferugby.es

The Spain national rugby union team (Spanish: Selección de rugby de España), nicknamed Los Leones (The Lions), represents the Spanish Rugby Federation in men's international rugby union competitions. The team annually takes part in the European Nations Cup, the highest European rugby championship outside the Six Nations. The national side is ranked 20th in the world (as of 20 March 2023).

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.

History

Early history and amateur era

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.[1] 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.[2]

Spain played their first officially recognised match in 1929, winning 9–0 over Italy in the Estadi Olímpic de Montjuïc.[2] 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.[3]

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)

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–present

Spain playing Classic All Blacks at Metropolitano Stadium in 2022.

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 2013 for the first time following a 25–18 win over the higher ranked Georgia making headlines with semi-pro back Jack Rowland making a surprising call up, due to both fly-half and first team inside center pulling out with injury moments before the squad was announces. Rowland a last moment replacement scoring 12 out of the 25 points on his international debut. Surprising ranked Georgia first time in 29 years with a victory. Spain remained in the top 20 throughout the year, ending 2013 ranked 19th.[4] 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.[5] 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 ineligible players, ended their hopes.

A similar outcome occurred in 2022 when the team initially qualified for the 2023 Rugby World Cup after wins over direct rivals Romania and Portugal but was later disqualified due to fielding a player who didn't meet the selection criteria. This second expulsion resulted in many veteran players abandoning the national team and the Spanish side struggled to get good results in the 2023 rugby championship campaign. With heavy defeats against Georgia and Portugal and a narrow home defeat to Romania.

Strip

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 Iberia, Orange and Renfe, and previous kit providers include Canterbury, Westport, Viator, Kondy Sport and Puma.

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

Record

European Nations Cup & FIRA Trophy

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

See also: European Nations Cup (rugby union)

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
2020 1A 5 3 0 2 103 93 13 2nd
2021 1A 5 2 0 3 164 109 12 4th
2022 1A 5 4 0 1 170 135 17 2nd
2023 1 5 2 0 3 98 133 4th

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

Rugby World Cup record

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
Japan 2019 Expelled after qualification 8 6 0 2 217 85
France 2023 10 6 0 4 334 244
Total 2/10 3 0 0 3 18 124 78 41 3 34 2061 1791

Overall

Top 20 as of 29 January 2024[9]
Rank Change* Team Points
1 Steady  South Africa 094.54
2 Steady  Ireland 090.57
3 Steady  New Zealand 089.80
4 Steady  France 087.81
5 Steady  England 085.46
6 Steady  Scotland 083.43
7 Steady  Argentina 080.68
8 Steady  Wales 080.64
9 Steady  Australia 077.48
10 Steady  Fiji 076.38
11 Steady  Italy 075.93
12 Steady  Japan 074.27
13 Steady  Portugal 072.78
14 Steady  Georgia 072.68
15 Steady  Samoa 072.23
16 Steady  Tonga 071.57
17 Steady  United States 067.94
18 Steady  Uruguay 067.39
19 Steady  Romania 063.28
20 Steady  Spain 062.86
21 Steady  Canada 060.90
22 Steady  Namibia 060.56
23 Steady  Chile 060.49
24 Steady  Hong Kong 059.80
25 Steady  Russia 058.06
26 Steady   Switzerland 056.29
27 Steady  Netherlands 055.84
28 Steady  Brazil 055.37
29 Steady  Belgium 054.58
30 Steady  South Korea 053.46
* Change from the previous week
Spain's historical rankings
Graphs are unavailable due to technical issues. There is more info on Phabricator and on MediaWiki.org.
See or edit source data.
Source: World Rugby[9]
Graph updated to 25 December 2023

Below is a table of the representative rugby matches played by a Spain national XV at test level up until 20 November 2023.[10]

Opponent Played Won Lost Drawn Win % For Aga Diff
 Andorra 3 3 0 0 100.00% 129 3 +126
 Argentina 5 0 5 0 0.00% 78 211 –133
 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 17 14 2 1 81.25% 484 123 +361
 Canada 4 2 2 0 50.00% 148 151 –3
 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
 England 1 0 1 0 0.00% 17 86 –69
England England U23 2 0 2 0 0.00% 19 31 –12
 Fiji 2 0 2 0 0.00% 33 82 –49
 France XV 24 1 23 0 4.17% 283 1075 –792
France French Military 4 1 2 1 25.00% 34 52 –18
 Georgia 24 3 20 1 12.5% 337 752 –415
 Germany 14 10 3 1 71.43% 391 193 +198
 Hong Kong 1 1 0 0 100.00% 29 7 +22
 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
 Italy A 1 0 1 0 0% 11 13 –2
 Japan 3 0 3 0 0.00% 43 114 –71
 Kenya 1 0 1 0 0.00% 27 36 –9
 Moldova 1 1 0 0 100.00% 40 7 +33
 Morocco 18 13 5 0 72.22% 332 142 +190
 Namibia 7 5 2 0 71.43% 174 134 +40
 Netherlands 17 16 0 1 94.12% 517 134 +383
New Zealand New Zealand Māori 2 0 2 0 0.00% 15 88 –73
New Zealand New Zealand Classic 1 0 1 0 0.00% 26 33 –7
 Poland 16 10 6 0 62.50% 320 207 +113
 Portugal 41 27 12 2 65.85% 890 644 +246
 Romania 39 4 35 0 10.53% 442 1115 –673
  Royal Air Force 4 0 2 2 0.00% 26 59 –33
 Russia 24 8 16 0 33.33% 592 674 –82
 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 2 0 2 0 0.00% 19 68 –49
 Tunisia 5 4 1 0 80.00% 141 51 +90
 Ukraine 2 2 0 0 100.00% 76 19 +57
 United States 4 0 4 0 0.00% 41 211 –170
 Uruguay 13 6 7 0 46.15% 198 250 –52
 Wales 1 0 1 0 0.00% 0 54 –54
 Wales XV 1 0 1 0 0.00% 16 65 –49
 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 399 165 221 13 41.35% 7588 8880 –1292

Players

Current squad

On the 26 October, the following 32 players were called up for the 2022 end-of-year rugby union internationals.

Head Coach: Spain Santiago Santos

Player Position Date of birth (age) Caps Club/province
Vicente del Hoyo Hooker (1996-02-15) 15 February 1996 (age 27) 18 Spain Ciencias Sevilla
Santiago Ovejero Hooker (1997-12-11) 11 December 1997 (age 26) 10 France AS Mâcon
Bittor Aboitiz Prop (1988-10-05) 5 October 1988 (age 35) 8 France US Seynoise
Raúl Calzón Prop (1997-06-16) 16 June 1997 (age 26) 1 Spain Valladolid RAC
Joaquín Domínguez Prop (1996-02-13) 13 February 1996 (age 27) 2 Spain CR El Salvador
Thierry Futeu Prop (1995-06-23) 23 June 1995 (age 28) 19 France C' Chartres Rugby
Jon Zabala Prop (1996-11-27) 27 November 1996 (age 27) 24 France Béziers
Gorbei Allende Lock (2001-04-10) 10 April 2001 (age 22) 0 France Saint Jean de Luz
Manuel Mora Lock (1985-03-08) 8 March 1985 (age 38) 37 Spain Ciencias Sevilla
Mario Pichardie Lock (2001-01-31) 31 January 2001 (age 23) 0 England Loughborough Uni. RUFC
Víctor Sánchez Lock (1987-06-20) 20 June 1987 (age 36) 36 Spain CR El Salvador
Alejandro Suárez Lock (1995-12-12) 12 December 1995 (age 28) 1 Spain La Vila
Facundo Dominguez Back row (1997-01-04) 4 January 1997 (age 27) 10 Spain FC Barcelona
Matthew Foulds Back row (1991-04-27) 27 April 1991 (age 32) 21 Spain CR El Salvador
Guillermo Moreton Back row (2000-12-24) 24 December 2000 (age 23) 1 Spain Cisneros
Raphael Nieto Back row (2000-08-27) 27 August 2000 (age 23) 0 France Stade Niortais
Afaese Tauli Back row (1990-04-29) 29 April 1990 (age 33) 22 Spain Santboiana
Matheo Triki Back row (2001-02-02) 2 February 2001 (age 23) 10 France Chambery
Kerman Aurrekoetxea Scrum-half (2000-05-04) 4 May 2000 (age 23) 7 France Biarritz Olympique
Tomás Munilla Scrum-half (1998-08-03) 3 August 1998 (age 25) 16 France Béziers
Bautista Güemes Fly-half (1990-05-12) 12 May 1990 (age 33) 13 Spain Barcelona
Gonzalo Vinuesa Fly-half (2001-05-15) 15 May 2001 (age 22) 6 Spain Cisneros
Daniel Barranco Centre (1999-01-12) 12 January 1999 (age 25) 1 Spain Barcelona
David Barrios Centre (1999-05-02) 2 May 1999 (age 24) 0 Spain Castilla y León Iberians
Jerry Davoibaravi Centre (1994-06-12) 12 June 1994 (age 29) 1 Spain CR El Salvador
Federico Castiglioni Wing (1990-08-10) 10 August 1990 (age 33) 30 Spain Aparejadores
Julen Goia Wing (1991-12-12) 12 December 1991 (age 32) 32 Spain Ordizia
Jordi Jorba Wing (1997-05-08) 8 May 1997 (age 26) 36 Spain Ciencias Sevilla
Iñaki Mateu Fullback (1997-03-17) 17 March 1997 (age 26) 5 Spain Ciencias Sevilla
Paclo Rascon Wing (1999-07-21) 21 July 1999 (age 24) 0 Spain Aparejadores
J. W. Bell Fullback (1990-01-18) 18 January 1990 (age 34) 9 Spain CR El Salvador
Guillermo Dominguez Fullback (1997-01-31) 31 January 1997 (age 27) 4 Spain Ciencias Sevilla

Notable former players

Coaches

Current coaching staff

The current coaching staff of the Spanish national team:[11]

Name Nationality Role
José Manuel Pérez  ESP Manager
Pablo Pérez  ESP Manager
Santiago Santos  ESP Head coach
Miguel Velasco  ESP Assistant coach
Mar Álvarez  ESP Strength & Conditioning coach
Dr. Alberto Gomez  ESP Team doctor
Pablo Amich  ESP Physiotherapist
Roberto Murias  ESP Physiotherapist
Valentín Telleriarte  ARG Video-analyst

Former coaches

Coach Years
 ESP Enrique Gutiérrez
1927-1928
 ESP Manuel Ordóñez
1931-1932
 ESP José Hermosa
1935-1936
 ESP César Palomino
1936
 ESP Jesús Luque
1952-1953
 ESP Juan Vázquez
1953-1960
 ESP Arnaldo Griñó
1960-1966
 ESP Ramón Rabassa
1965 (caretaker)
 ESP Alberto Serena
1967-1968
 ESP Alfredo Calzada
1968-1970
 FRA Gérard Murillo
1970-1978
 WAL Morgan Thomas
1978-1979
 ESP Luis Mocoroa
1979 (caretaker)
 ESP Francisco Sacristán
1979-1982
 ESP Jesús Linares
1982-1984
 ESP Ángel Luis Jiménez
1984-1986
 ESP José Maria Epalza
1986-1989
 FRA Gérard Murillo
1989-1993
 ESP Alfonso Feijoo
1992 (caretaker)
 NZL Bryce Bevin
1993-1997
 ESP Alfonso Feijoo
1997-1999
 ESP Tomás García
1999-2002
 FRA Pierre Pérez
2002-2003
 ENG Gerard Glynn
2003-2010
 FRA Régis Sonnes
2010-2012
 ESP Francisco Puertas
2012-2021
 ESP Santiago Santos
2021-present

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Though Spain had qualified for the 2019 and 2023 World Cups, they were expelled after their qualification.

References

  1. ^ "Historia del Rugby: España". Rugby de Calle. 17 September 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  2. ^ 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
  3. ^ "80 años de historia". Arquitectura Rugby. Archived from the original on 13 October 2016. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  4. ^ IRB.com, 2013 in review: Highs and lows in rankings, Jan. 7, 2013, http://www.irb.com/rankings/news/newsid=2064835.html
  5. ^ "Blog De la Calle: Rugby español, ni español ni... (in Spanish)". Eurosport. 25 February 2016. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
  6. ^ Spain Rugby Shirts, oldrugbyshirts.com, retrieved 17 March 2016
  7. ^ New Spain Rugby Shirt 2014/2015- Spanish Home Rugby Kit 14/15, New Rugby Kits, 20 November 2013, retrieved 17 March 2016
  8. ^ Browne, PJ (4 February 2015), Check Out The Spanish Rugby Team's Jersey Made By O'Neills, Balls.ie, retrieved 17 March 2016
  9. ^ a b "Men's World Rankings". World Rugby. Retrieved 29 January 2024.
  10. ^ Spain rugby statistics
  11. ^ "Spain Rugby's Coaching Staff". ferugby.es. Spain. 7 March 2022.