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The Six Nations Rugby Championship: A History to Date

Updated on December 8, 2013
The top level rugby tournament in the Northern Hemisphere - the RBS Six Nations Championship
The top level rugby tournament in the Northern Hemisphere - the RBS Six Nations Championship | Source

Who do you think will win this season's Six Nations Championship?

  • 6% England
  • 15% France
  • 2% Italy
  • 8% Ireland
  • 2% Scotland
  • 68% Wales
53 people have voted in this poll.

This poll is now closed to voting.

The History of the Six Nations

The RBS Six Nations Championship is the pinnacle of rugby in the Northern Hemisphere. The first championship was played in 1883 and was played between England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, just 12 years after the first international rugby game between England and Scotland (Scotland won - although seeing as both Irishmen and Welshmen played for the Scottish side, its debatable whether 'Scotland' won!). This 'Home International Championship' became the Five Nations with the addition of France in 1910, and became the Six Nations with the addition of Italy in 2000.

The competition is in a league format, with each team playing all others once. Home advantage alternates from one year to the next. Scoring is simple: two points for a win, one for a draw, none for a loss. No bonus points. Winning every game results in the 'Grand Slam;' victory of a home nation (Wales, England, Ireland, Scotland) over the other three home nations earns the 'Triple Crown;' finishing bottom lands you the 'Wooden Spoon'

With the tournament being over 100 years old, there have been a number of sub-competitions that have been absorbed:

  • Calcutta Cup - winner of Scotland vs. England, running since 1879
  • Millennium Trophy - winner of Ireland vs. England, running since 1988
  • Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy - winner of Italy vs France, running since 2007

This hub hopes to educate you on the most fantastic of rugby tournaments - each team is examined, with their form, home and away strips, stadium and emblem, and a fun fact thrown in. All information is accurate to the start of the 2012 Six Nations championships, and will be updated at the end. Enjoy!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The rose is NOT the royal rose of England (which is red and white), but IS the symbol of the English Rugby Football UnionThe largest dedicated rugby venue in the world, with a capacity of 82,000. This is Twickenham Stadium, the Home of the English National Rugby Team.The England Home KitThe England Away Kit
The rose is NOT the royal rose of England (which is red and white), but IS the symbol of the English Rugby Football Union
The rose is NOT the royal rose of England (which is red and white), but IS the symbol of the English Rugby Football Union | Source
The largest dedicated rugby venue in the world, with a capacity of 82,000. This is Twickenham Stadium, the Home of the English National Rugby Team.
The largest dedicated rugby venue in the world, with a capacity of 82,000. This is Twickenham Stadium, the Home of the English National Rugby Team. | Source
The England Home Kit
The England Home Kit | Source
The England Away Kit
The England Away Kit | Source

England

Fact File:

  • Grand Slams: 12
  • Triple Crowns: 23
  • Outright Championships: 26
  • Played 438; Won 231; Drawn 39; Lost 168
  • Top Try-scorers: Cyril Lowe and Rory Underwood (18)
  • Top Points Scorer: Jonny Wilkinson (546)

The 2011 World Cup was a huge disappointment for England. Controversy both on and off the pitch, along with being knocked out before the quarter-finals resulted in the loss of manager Martin Johnson and most of the coaching staff. On the up side, England are showing faith in new talent, clearing out the old squad and bringing in some exciting new players and coaches. England do not have a right to win, however. Despite their pedigree, England must now build confidence and performances methodically if they want to succeed.

Fun Fact: England are one of only two teams to have won the triple crown on four consecutive occasions - from 1995-1998 (the other was, of course, Wales: 1976-1979)

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The emblem of the French Rugby TeamThe Stade de France. Originally built for the 1998 Football World Cup, the FFR have to share the stadium - this has led them to begin plans for a new, purpose built 80,000 capacity stadium, complete with retractable roof.The French home kit 2012
The emblem of the French Rugby Team
The emblem of the French Rugby Team | Source
The Stade de France. Originally built for the 1998 Football World Cup, the FFR have to share the stadium - this has led them to begin plans for a new, purpose built 80,000 capacity stadium, complete with retractable roof.
The Stade de France. Originally built for the 1998 Football World Cup, the FFR have to share the stadium - this has led them to begin plans for a new, purpose built 80,000 capacity stadium, complete with retractable roof. | Source
The French home kit 2012
The French home kit 2012 | Source

France

Fact File:

  • Grand Slams: 9
  • Triple Crowns: n/a
  • Outright Championships: 17
  • Played 339; Won 177; Drawn17; Lost 145
  • Top Try Scorers: Serge Blanco & Phillipe Sella (14)
  • Top Points Scorer: Dimitri Yachvili (201)

The perennial question that is asked in the RBS Six Nations is "which France side will turn up?" At their best, France are world beaters, at their worst...well Italy can tell you what they are like. France play exciting, open rugby and excel in the backs but are ageing in the (albeit exceptional) forwards. The French crowd are the National Team's Achilles heel - they are quick to turn on their side at the first sign of problems. France have been under fire this season for calling off their Six Nations Match against Ireland 10 minutes before kick off due to a frozen pitch.

Fun Fact: France joined the Championship in 1910, and didn't win their first outright title until 1959.

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The new look emblem for the Irish side, unveiled in 2009. This replaced the logo used since 1875The newest stadium on the Six Nations circuit - the Aviva Stadium (formerly Lansdowne Road). Arguably the best looking of all the stadia, with a capacity of 50,000Ireland's home kit for 2012Ireland's away kit for 2012
The new look emblem for the Irish side, unveiled in 2009. This replaced the logo used since 1875
The new look emblem for the Irish side, unveiled in 2009. This replaced the logo used since 1875 | Source
The newest stadium on the Six Nations circuit - the Aviva Stadium (formerly Lansdowne Road). Arguably the best looking of all the stadia, with a capacity of 50,000
The newest stadium on the Six Nations circuit - the Aviva Stadium (formerly Lansdowne Road). Arguably the best looking of all the stadia, with a capacity of 50,000 | Source
Ireland's home kit for 2012
Ireland's home kit for 2012 | Source
Ireland's away kit for 2012
Ireland's away kit for 2012 | Source

Ireland

Fact File

  • Grand Slams: 2
  • Triple Crowns: 10
  • Outright Championships: 11
  • Played 438; Won 184; Drawn 23; Lost 231
  • Top Try Scorer: Brian O'Driscoll (25)
  • Top Points Scorer: Ronan O'Gara (551)

Don't let the lack of Grand Slams and Championships fool you, Ireland are a dangerous side. The 2011 RWC saw them beat Australia in the group stages - the shock of the tournament. Ireland play attractive rugby and are studded with good players. Combining talented backs with one of the best back rows in the world, Ireland are always a threat. You may ask why they haven't won more then...it remains a mystery! If Ireland can find some consistency from somewhere, they will be champions.

Fun Fact: The 1972 tournament was not finished thanks to Scotland and Wales refusing to travel to Dublin to play Ireland.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Italian Rugby EmblemTemporary home of the Italian Rugby team: the 72,698 capacity Stadio Olimpico. The Italian Team will be based here (probably until 2014) until the Stadio Flaminio has had its capacity increased to 42,000Italy's 2012 home kitItaly's 2012 away kit
The Italian Rugby Emblem
The Italian Rugby Emblem | Source
Temporary home of the Italian Rugby team: the 72,698 capacity Stadio Olimpico. The Italian Team will be based here (probably until 2014) until the Stadio Flaminio has had its capacity increased to 42,000
Temporary home of the Italian Rugby team: the 72,698 capacity Stadio Olimpico. The Italian Team will be based here (probably until 2014) until the Stadio Flaminio has had its capacity increased to 42,000 | Source
Italy's 2012 home kit
Italy's 2012 home kit | Source
Italy's 2012 away kit
Italy's 2012 away kit | Source

Italy

Fact File

  • Grand Slams: 0
  • Triple Crowns: n/a
  • Outright Championships: 0
  • Played 60; Won 8; Drawn 1; Lost 51
  • Top Try Scorer: Mirco Bergamasco (7)
  • Top Points Scorer: Diego Dominguez (162)

The new boys of the tournament, Italy should take heart that it took 49 years for France to win their first championship. Italy have always had a great pack and are one of the strongest scrummaging teams in the world. They are let down, however, by abysmal place kicking and a lack of leadership from no. 10. As Jerry Guscott says (Rugby World, March 2012):

"Teams can risk giving away penalties in their own half because Italy aren't as clinical as the top kickers."

Fun Fact: Between 2000 and 2011, Italy have scored 73 tries - 3 more than Scotland in the same period, but well behind England's 188.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Scottish Thistle is incorporated as the emblem of the National Rugby sideRecently reduced from a capacity of 67,800 to 67,130, this is Murrayfield, first opened in 1925Scotland's home kit for the 2012 Six NationsScotland's away kit for the 2012 Six Nations
The Scottish Thistle is incorporated as the emblem of the National Rugby side
The Scottish Thistle is incorporated as the emblem of the National Rugby side | Source
Recently reduced from a capacity of 67,800 to 67,130, this is Murrayfield, first opened in 1925
Recently reduced from a capacity of 67,800 to 67,130, this is Murrayfield, first opened in 1925 | Source
Scotland's home kit for the 2012 Six Nations
Scotland's home kit for the 2012 Six Nations | Source
Scotland's away kit for the 2012 Six Nations
Scotland's away kit for the 2012 Six Nations | Source

Scotland

Fact File

  • Grand Slams: 3
  • Triple Crowns: 10
  • Outright Championships: 14
  • Played 439; won 185; Drawn 23; Lost 231
  • Top Try Scorer: Ian Smith 24
  • Top Points Scorer: Chris Patterson (403)

With the departure of Chris Patterson and huge difficulties in crossing the try line (Update: Scotland scored their first try in 5 tests in their second game of the championship vs. Wales) Scotland are constantly battling out with Italy to avoid the Wooden Spoon. Scotland have a dogged determination, and are always difficult to breach. The Calcutta Cup match against England is always hotly contested and you underestimate Scotland at your peril.

Fun Fact: Scotland were the last team to raise the old 5 Nations trophy in 1999

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The three feathers of the Prince of Wales. The emblem occasionally also carries the motto 'Ich Dien' - German for 'I serve'Home of the Welsh National Rugby Side: the 74,500 seater Millennium Stadium. A modern rugby venue with retractable roof and removable pitch system. With a full stadium and closed roof this is a very intimidating venueThe 2012 Home KitThe 2012 Away Kit
The three feathers of the Prince of Wales. The emblem occasionally also carries the motto 'Ich Dien' - German for 'I serve'
The three feathers of the Prince of Wales. The emblem occasionally also carries the motto 'Ich Dien' - German for 'I serve' | Source
Home of the Welsh National Rugby Side: the 74,500 seater Millennium Stadium. A modern rugby venue with retractable roof and removable pitch system. With a full stadium and closed roof this is a very intimidating venue
Home of the Welsh National Rugby Side: the 74,500 seater Millennium Stadium. A modern rugby venue with retractable roof and removable pitch system. With a full stadium and closed roof this is a very intimidating venue
The 2012 Home Kit
The 2012 Home Kit | Source
The 2012 Away Kit
The 2012 Away Kit | Source

Wales

Fact File

  • Grand Slams: 10
  • Triple Crowns: 19
  • Outright Championships: 24
  • Played 436; Won 226; Drawn 25; Lost 185
  • Top Try Scorer: Shane Williams (22)
  • Top Points Scorer: Stephen Jones (467)

A young side packed to the rafters with talent. Wales reached the semi final in RWC 2011, narrowly (some would say unfairly due to a very early red card) losing out to France. The same competition saw Wales very narrowly miss out to Australia and South Africa...and that is Wales' biggest problem. A lack of self belief, and clarity of thought in the dying moments of a game, has been then downfall of Wales on more than one occasion. Wales can grow into world-beaters, but only if they truly believe they can win against the Southern Hemisphere sides.

Fun Fact: Wales achieved the first back-to-back 'Grand Slam' in 1908 and 1909 (even though France weren't officially part of the tournament, Wales still beat them during the season)

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    • TFScientist profile image
      Author

      Rhys Baker 6 years ago from Peterborough, UK

      Thanks for the comment - this hub is different to my usual, scientific offerings. I'm glad that people are still finding it engaging and useful :)

    • profile image

      Telema Davies 6 years ago

      Very fact-filled,picture-lightened,and sensational.

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