The Six Nations Rugby Championship: A History to Date
Who do you think will win this season's Six Nations Championship?
- 6% England
- 15% France
- 2% Italy
- 8% Ireland
- 2% Scotland
- 68% Wales
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!
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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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Where Next? Six Nations Rugby
- Official RBS 6 Nations Rugby : History
6nations.net The Official Website of the RBS 6 Nations Europe's Premier International Rugby Tournament
- International Rugby Board - A Beginner's Guide to Rugby
The International Rugby Board have created 'A Beginner's Guide to Rugby Union', which is currently available in six languages including Russian and Chinese.
- Planet Rugby:Live Rugby Scores, Results & Fixtures
Planet Rugby has the latest Rugby Union news, fixtures and results. All major tournaments included from Aviva Premiership to Super Rugby.