Nigel Walker scored four tries as Wales thrashed Portugal 102-11

Nigel Walker scored four tries as Wales thrashed Portugal 102-11 in their only previous encounter, but the winger’s Rugby World Cup dream was shattered by injury

  • Wales hammered Portugal 102-11 in Lisbon to qualify for the 1995 World Cup
  • Warren Gatland’s side should have no trouble swatting aside the European outfit
  • Latest Rugby World Cup 2023 news, including fixtures, live scores and results

Wales and Portugal will meet for only the second time in rugby history on Saturday.

Warren Gatland’s side should have no trouble swatting aside the European outfit in Nice and an expected bonus-point win would maintain their perfect World Cup start.

But Wales’ class of 2023 will have to go some way to emulate the team of 1994 who hammered Portugal 102-11 in Lisbon that year. Unlike Gatland’s current crop, Wales’ side from nearly three decades ago didn’t even qualify for the 1995 World Cup automatically.

After exiting the 1991 tournament in the group stages, Wales had to beat Portugal, Spain, Romania and Italy in 1994 to reach South Africa the following year. They did so comfortably, hammering Portugal in a 16-try extravaganza Gatland’s Wales side will do well to match.

Current interim Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Nigel Walker scored four tries against Portugal but then missed the chance to go to the 1995 World Cup due to injury.

Nigel Walker (pictured) scored four tries as Wales beat Portugal 102-11 in their only previous encounter

Walker alongside Ieuan Evans before he stepped down as Welsh Rugby Union chairman

‘I scored four in a club game a few times but in an international match only once,’ said Walker, who had made a successful transfer from athletics to playing rugby on the wing.

‘Alan Davies was the coach – it was a pressure game. Obviously Portugal have improved greatly over the last 20 years but once we got into our stride, it was fairly comfortable on the day.

‘It was a feeling of being really nervous because if we’d messed it up, we knew we weren’t going to the World Cup. The overriding emotion afterwards was one of personal satisfaction I played reasonably well. That was coupled by the fact that as a team we played reasonably well.

‘Then I thought I’d be going to a World Cup but I got injured and didn’t go. The qualification routes are different now but in those days, there was a lot of pressure on those games.’

Walker’s four tries came alongside a treble from fellow wing Ieuan Evans, who captained the team that day. Outside centre Mike Hall also scored three times. Neil Jenkins converted 11 of Wales’ 16 efforts in a one-sided contest. This year, Walker and Evans have been running the WRU together before the latter stepped down from his role as chairman.



Try: Murinelo

Pens: Gomes 2


Tries: Evans 3, Hall 3, Jones 2, Llewellyn, Quinnell, Taylor, Walker 4, Penalty try

Cons: Jenkins 11

(May 18, 1994 – Lisbon) 

‘Definitely not! There couldn’t have been anything further from our minds to be honest,’ said Walker, when asked if he could ever have imagined heading up Welsh rugby alongside Evans.

‘In my early thirties I was thinking about playing in a World Cup and starting to think about life after rugby. If I’d had a million dreams, being interim chief executive of the WRU with Ieuan as chair wouldn’t have been in them. It’s amazing how life takes you down a path you don’t expect.’

Emyr Lewis started in the back-row for Wales against Portugal in 1994.

‘It was hot, it was a lovely country, and we scored a century of points which was a record for Wales. We scored 16 tries but I didn’t get near to scoring one,’ he said.

‘I was running these angles that were taught to me by my Llanelli coach Gareth Jenkins in order to get to the breakdown quicker. But we were breaking the lines much easier than normal so I was in the wrong places. All the tries were scored wide out.

‘It was an interesting game at times. A game I thoroughly enjoyed but perhaps another one where I realised openside flanker was not my best or natural position.

‘There is an old saying that the forwards decide who wins the game and the backs by how much. ‘During that time we had Nigel, Ieuan and Mike on fire and we just got them the ball as soon as possible. They were too quick for them.’

After qualifying for the World Cup thanks in part to their destruction of Portugal, Wales were whitewashed in the 1995 Five Nations and Davies was sacked.

In the amateur era, Welsh rugby was not used to success as it has been in professional times where Gatland has led the team to unprecedented glory.

Walker’s then Cardiff coach Alec Evans succeeded Davies but Wales didn’t get out of the group stage in 1995 with Walker watching on from Wales.

‘When I came across from athletics if I hadn’t been a track and field athlete doing about 10 sessions a week, I wouldn’t have got anywhere near the team,’ he said.

‘And if I was 30 years younger and came across now, I could’ve been training 20 times a week and I still wouldn’t have got anywhere near the team because the standards in Welsh rugby and rugby across the board are far higher now than they were 25 years ago. You’d expect that.

‘There are lots of people who haven’t played in World Cups who maybe should have – that’s sport.

‘I remember dislocating my shoulder in the February or the March and Alan said to me: “Don’t get it repaired because if you do, you won’t go to the World Cup.”

‘I didn’t and then unfortunately, Alan lost his job three or four weeks later. Alec – my club coach – became my national coach and he felt it was too much of a risk so didn’t pick me.’

‘Devastated doesn’t get close but that’s sport. I can say now that 30 years later I’m over it!’

Neither Walker nor Lewis are expecting Wales to hammer Portugal this weekend as they did in 1994. But the reality is it will take one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history for Gatland’s side not to win on the Cote d’Azur this weekend despite the head coach making 13 changes from the thrilling opening-round success over Fiji.

Warren Gatland’s side should have no trouble swatting aside Portugal in Nice on Saturday

‘There won’t be any complacency whatsoever,’ said Walker, who is returning to a performance director role with the WRU imminently.

‘Everyone is delighted with the performance and win against Fiji but Portugal is the next game and everyone is going to be focused on doing the job on Saturday.’

Lewis added: ‘I would be happy if we got about 60 points but Wales still have to work hard.

‘There are no easy games in these competitions. Wales have made plenty of changes so it will be an interesting to see what the outcome will be.’

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