Wales enjoyed a superb World Cup in 1987, reaching the semi-finals after a fine win against Five Nations (as was) rivals England in the last eight. Then they lost to heavily to eventual winners New Zealand, but finished on a high with a win over Australia in the third-place playoff match.
It's been (slightly) downhill ever since for the Welsh, who haven't progressed past the quarter-finals in any of the following tournaments.
In 1991, as one of the co-hosts, they failed even to escape from their pool, after a shock defeat against Western Samoa in Cardiff. It was the same story of Welsh failure in 1995, when they went home early after finishing behind New Zealand and Ireland in their group.
Four years on, in 1999, Wales were main hosts of the World Cup but again the home advantage hardly spurred them on to hit the heights. They did win their group, but only just, after another defeat at the hands of bogey team Samoa. A quarter-final exit against eventual winners Australia followed.
In 2003, the Welsh capitalised on a relatively kind pool to qualify for the knockout stages behind New Zealand, but they were easily stopped in their tracks by England in the quarter-finals. At the most recent tournament, in 2007, Wales' record of underachievement continued, as they were beaten by Australia and Fiji in their group, and so didn't make the knockout stages.
It's asking a lot for Wales to make the last four as they did in New Zealand 24 years ago. Qualification from a very tough group is perhaps the most they can hope for in 2011.
World Cup squad:
Backs: Michael Phillips (Bayonne), Lloyd Williams (Blues), Tavis Knoyle (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Blues), James Hook (Perpignan), Jonathan Davies, Stephen Jones, Rhys Priestland, Scott Williams (Scarlets), Leigh Halfpenny (Blues), Lee Byrne (Clermont Auvergne), Aled Brew (Dragons), Shane Williams (Ospreys), George North (Scarlets)
Forwards: Gethin Jenkins (Blues), Lloyd Burns (Dragons), Huw Bennett, Ryan Bevington, Adam Jones, Paul James (Ospreys), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Craig Mitchell (Exeter), Bradley Davies, Sam Warburton (Blues), Luke Charteris, Danny Lydiate, Toby Faletau (Dragons), Ryan Jones, Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Andy Powell (Sale Sharks)
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