In 1905, before what was dubbed “game of the century”, Welsh players and fans responded to New Zealand’s Haka with Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau.


It is believed to be one of the first times an anthem was sung before an international sports match anywhere in the world.


Now, 116 years later, it is played at rugby and football internationals, as well as Senedd events.

But should God Save the Queen, the UK’s official anthem, be sung as well?


In an article, Archbishop of York, the Most Rev Stephen Cottrell, said it had become seen as “just the English anthem”.


He added that, as part of “a big vision for one United Kingdom” to stop the union falling apart, when “the different nations of the UK find themselves pitched against each other on the sports field we could belt out our English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish anthems. Then sing our national anthem together”.


Rugby writer Peter Jackson believes it is seen by people as “not the anthem of Wales” and would be “booed now even more than it was in the past”.


However, he would not have anthems at all, saying his dad’s view when he was growing up in Ireland was “it only heightened the differences between one set of people and another”.


God Save the Queen was played at Croke Park in Dublin before Ireland v England in the 2007 Six Nations.


Mr Jackson described it as a place “loaded with history of the most emotive kind” as it was where British forces opened fire on the crowd attending a Gaelic football match in 1920, killing 14 people, including Tipperary player Michael Hogan.


“When they played it at the shrine of Gaelic football and Irish republicanism, you could hear a pin drop,” he said.


“Compare that to it routinely being booed in Edinburgh and Cardiff – which are parts of the UK.”


God Save the Queen continues to be played before Northern Ireland football matches while Scotland’s rugby and football teams adopted Flower of Scotland in the 1990s.


“Each country should play what they want. England for years claimed God Save the Queen, even though it’s the anthem of the UK, not England,” said sports historian Huw Richards.


“We weren’t bothered about fighting them for it because musically it’s such an awful anthem.”


However, he said it was generally accepted and played as well as Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau before rugby games, until a “tipping point” came in the 1970s.


Mr Richards said: “In 1973, God Save the Queen was played at Cardiff before Wales played Japan and unmercifully jeered, with it identified among Welsh fans as English, who asked ‘why are they playing it at our game?’


“Then at Twickenham, a few months later, Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau wasn’t played – it was suggested it was direct retaliation, with the RFU president thoroughly embarrassed, saying the band took unilateral action.


He believes this was the point where it was decided God Save the Queen was “not appropriate for Wales games” and it was “quietly dropped”, with the WRU in a “strong position to be assertive” because of the great sides it had in the 1970s.


Mr Richards believes if God Save the Queen was a truly representative, UK-wide anthem, there would be more controversy about it not being used, adding: “It’s not about the UK, but celebrates a particular structure.


“You see it before France v England – one anthem is an appeal to the entire nation, then the next is about being subjects.”


Mr Richards believes 116 years of history means that Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau now “represents who we are” in a way God Save the Queen simply cannot


“There is a parallel debate over the Prince of Wales feathers on the jersey – many suggest it’s a colonial hangover and ask why we still wear them,” he added.


“But now, many people look at them and see Bleddyn Williams, Gareth Edwards and Ieuan Evans.


“The meanings of things change over time, with the relationship of previously imposed princes to run the place irrelevant, and in a rugby context, the three feathers represent the great players who have worn them.”


In that sense, for many players as well, history means God Save the Queen has come to represent Wales’ greatest rivals.


At the 2012 London Olympics, Team GB played football matches in Cardiff, and despite wearing the jersey, Welshmen Craig Bellamy, Ryan Giggs, Joe Allen, Aaron Ramsey and Neil Taylor decided not to sing it.


Rather than being seen as their own anthem, Bellamy simply asked the crowd to respect it by not booing, adding: “Every national anthem, it doesn’t matter if it is your worst enemy, it’s just one or two minutes and you should be quiet and respect it and that should be the same for everyone.”


Story courtesy of Chris Wood, BBC News