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Six Nations Championship

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Six Nations Championship

The Six Nations Championship[a] is an annual international rugby union competition involving six European sides: England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. It is sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland. The current champions are Ireland, having won the 2015 Tournament.

The Six Nations is the successor to the Five Nations Championship (1910–31 and 1947–99) which in turn succeeded the Home Nations Championship (1883–1909 and 1932–39). The Home Nations Championship, played between teams from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, was the first international rugby union tournament.[1] The winners of the Six Nations Championship are sometimes unofficially referred to in the media as the European Champions or Northern Hemisphere Champions. Ireland are the 2015 champions, having finished on equal table points with Wales and England but winning the trophy by virtue of achieving a higher match points difference.

England and Wales are the joint record holders for outright wins of the Home Nations, Five Nations and Six Nations tournaments, with 26 titles each, although Wales add to that record with 12 shared victories to England's 10. Since the Six Nations era started in 2000, only Italy and Scotland have failed to win the Six Nations title, although Scotland were the last outright winners of the Five Nations.


The locations of the Six Nations participants

Played annually, the format of the Championship is simple: each team plays every other team once (making for a total of 15 matches), with home field advantage alternating from one year to the next. Two points are awarded for a win, one for a draw and none for a loss. Unlike many other rugby union competitions the bonus point system is not used.

If a team wins all its games, they are said to have won a 'Grand Slam'. Victory by any Home Nation over the other three Home Nations is a 'Triple Crown'. Although this achievement has long been a feature of the tournament, it was not until 2006 that a physical Triple Crown trophy was awarded. At the end of the tournament the team that finishes at the bottom of the league table is said to have won the Wooden Spoon, although no actual trophy is given to the team. A team which has lost all five matches is said to have been whitewashed. Since the inaugural Six Nations tournament in 2000, only England and Ireland have avoided the Wooden Spoon award. Italy are the holders of the most Wooden Spoon awards in the Six Nations era with ten (although each of the other five nations has accumulated more than that through competing in previous eras).

Several individual competitions take place under the umbrella of the tournament. The oldest such regular competition is for the Calcutta Cup, contested annually between England and Scotland since 1879. It is named the Calcutta Cup as it is made from melted-down Indian Rupees donated by the Calcutta Club. Since 1988, the Millennium Trophy has been awarded to the winner of the game between England and Ireland, and since 1989 the Centenary Quaich has been awarded to the winner of the game between Ireland and Scotland. Since 2007, France and Italy have contested the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy; it was created for the 200th anniversary of the birth of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Italian hero who helped unify Italy and volunteer in the French Republican Army against Prussia.

Prior to 1994, teams equal on points shared the championship. Since then, ties have been broken by considering the points difference of the teams. The rules of the championship further provide that if teams tie on both match points and points difference, the team which scored the most tries wins the championship. Were this decider be a tie, the tying teams would share the championship.[2] To date, however, match points and points difference have been sufficient to decide the championship.


Championship Trophy

The Original Six Nations Championship Trophy (1993-2014) and The Triple Crown Trophy

The winners of the Six Nations are presented with the Championship Trophy.[3] This was originally conceived by the Earl of Westmorland, and was first presented to the winners of the 1993 championship, France. It is a sterling silver trophy, designed by James Brent-Ward and made by a team of eight silversmiths from the London firm William Comyns.

It has 15 side panels representing the 15 members of the team and with three handles to represent the three officials (referee and two touch judges). The cup has a capacity of 3.75 litres – sufficient for five bottles of champagne. Within the mahogany base is a concealed drawer which contains six alternate finials, each a silver replica of one of the team emblems, which can be screwed on the detachable lid.

A new trophy was introduced for the 2015 Championship.[4] The new trophy was designed and crafted by Thomas Lyte silversmiths and replaces the 1993 edition, which is being retired as it represented the nations that took part in the Five Nations Championship.[5]

Triple Crown Trophy

The Triple Crown may only be won by England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales, when one nation wins all three of their matches against the others, during the Six Nations Championship. The Triple Crown honour has long been a feature of the tournament, dating back to the original Home Nations Championship, but the physical Triple Crown Trophy has been awarded only since 2006. The current holder of the Triple Crown is England, who defeated Ireland, Scotland, and Wales in the 2014 championship. For the 2006 Six Nations, the Royal Bank of Scotland (the primary sponsor of the competition) commissioned Hamilton & Inches to design and create a dedicated Triple Crown Trophy. It has since been won three times by Ireland, twice by Wales and once by England.

Other trophies

Several other trophies are contested within the main competition, mostly as long-standing fixtures between pairs of teams.

Current venues

As of the current 2015 competition, Six Nations matches will be held in the following stadia:

Team Stadium Capacity
England Twickenham Stadium 82,000
France Stade de France 81,338
Wales Millennium Stadium 74,500
Italy Stadio Olimpico 72,698
Scotland Murrayfield Stadium 67,144
Ireland Aviva Stadium 51,700

The opening of the Aviva Stadium in May 2010 ended the arrangement with the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) that allowed the all-Ireland governing body for rugby union, the Irish Rugby Football Union, to use the GAA's flagship stadium, Croke Park, for its international matches. This arrangement was made necessary by the 2007 closure and subsequent demolition of Ireland's traditional home of Lansdowne Road, with the Aviva being built on the former Lansdowne Road site. During the construction of the Aviva, Croke Park was the largest of the Six Nations grounds, with a capacity of 82,300.

In the late 2000s, the increasing popularity of rugby in Italy meant that the Stadio Flaminio was becoming less viable as a home ground for the country's team. As the 2010s approached, it had been speculated that Italy's Six Nations home matches would in the future be held at football stadiums such as the Stadio Olimpico in Rome or in the North where rugby is most popular. Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Genoa (42,000 seats) or Stadio Ennio Tardini in Parma (almost 28,000 seats) were suggested as alternative grounds. Improvements for the Flaminio, intended to increase the capacity from 32,000 to 42,000, were announced, apparently increasing the likelihood that rugby would stay at Stadio Flamino, although still making it the smallest of the Six Nations grounds.[11] However, the city of Rome, owner of the Flaminio, delayed the promised renovations, causing the Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) to lose patience with the city. In April 2011, it was reported that the FIR would move its home matches to Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence.[12] The city of Rome then began renovations of the Flaminio, which presumably prompted the FIR to announce in July of that year that it would instead keep its home matches in the city at Stadio Olimpico.[13] The FIR also announced it planned to return to the Flaminio once the project was complete.[14]

In November 2010, the French Rugby Federation (FFR) announced that it is planning to build a new stadium of its own within the Paris region.[15] The FFR has grown increasingly frustrated with several aspects of their using the Stade de France: not only the high rental expense, but also the irritation that it does not receive priority when scheduling matches – with the possible exception of the Six Nations itself.[16]

In June 2012, FFR announced the site for its new ground – tentatively known as Grand Stade FFR – in the southern suburbs of Paris. It is located 25.0 km (15.5 mi) from the centre of Paris.[17] The 82,000-seat stadium, featuring a retractable roof and slide-out pitch, will be built on a former horse racing track in Évry. The new stadium, estimated to cost €600 million, is currently scheduled to open in 2017.[16]


Before the start of each game the national anthem of both teams is sung by their players and supporters. "God Save the Queen", the national anthem of the United Kingdom,[18] is used only by England. Wales and Scotland each sing their own national anthem. Ireland, whose rugby team represents two jurisdictions, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, have a specially commissioned anthem for rugby internationals.



Home Nations (1883–1909)

Home Nations (1883–1909)
Year Champions Grand Slam Triple Crown Calcutta Cup
1883 Not Competed  England  England
1884  England  England  England
1885 Not Completed Not Completed
1886  England and
1887  Scotland
1888 ,  Scotland and England didn't participate
1889  Scotland England didn't participate
1890  England and  Scotland  England
1891  Scotland  Scotland  Scotland
1892  England  England  England
1893  Wales  Wales  Scotland
1894  Ireland  Ireland  Scotland
1895  Scotland  Scotland  Scotland
1896  Ireland  Scotland
1897 Not Completed Not Completed  England
1898 Not Completed Not Completed
1899  Ireland  Ireland  Scotland
1900  Wales  Wales
1901  Scotland  Scotland  Scotland
1902  Wales  Wales  England
1903  Scotland  Scotland  Scotland
1904  Scotland  Scotland
1905  Wales  Wales  Scotland
1906  Ireland and  Wales  England
1907  Scotland  Scotland  Scotland
1908  Wales  Wales  Wales  Scotland
1909  Wales  Wales  Wales  Scotland

Five Nations (1910–1931)

Five Nations (1910–1931)
Year Champions Grand Slam Triple Crown Calcutta Cup
1910  England  England
1911  Wales  Wales  Wales  England
1912  Ireland and  England  Scotland
1913  England  England  England  England
1914  England  England  England  England
1915–19 Not held due to World War I
1920  Scotland,  Wales and  England  England
1921  England  England  England  England
1922  Wales  England
1923  England  England  England  England
1924  England  England  England  England
1925  Scotland  Scotland  Scotland  Scotland
1926  Ireland and  Scotland  Scotland
1927  Ireland and  Scotland  Scotland
1928  England  England  England  England
1929  Scotland  Scotland
1930  England
1931  Wales  Scotland

Home Nations (1932–1939)

Home Nations (1932–1939)
Year Champions Grand Slam Triple Crown Calcutta Cup
1932  England,  Ireland and  Wales  England
1933  Scotland  Scotland  Scotland
1934  England  England  England
1935  Ireland  Scotland
1936  Wales  England
1937  England  England  England
1938  Scotland  Scotland  Scotland
1939  England,  Ireland,  Wales  England

Five Nations (1940–1999)

Five Nations (1940–1999)
Year Champions Grand Slam Triple Crown Calcutta Cup Millennium Trophy Centenary Quaich
1940–46 Not held due to World War II
1947  England and  Wales  England Not Competed
1948  Ireland  Ireland  Ireland  Scotland
1949  Ireland  Ireland  England
1950  Wales  Wales  Wales  Scotland
1951  Ireland  England
1952  Wales  Wales  Wales  England
1953  England  England
1954  England, and  Wales  England  England
1955  France and  Wales  England
1956  Wales  England
1957  England  England  England  England
1958  England
1959  France
1960  England and  France  England  England
1961  France  England
1962  France
1963  England  England
1964  Scotland and  Wales  Scotland
1965  Wales  Wales
1966  Wales  Scotland
1967  France  England
1968  France  France  England
1969  Wales  Wales  England
1970  France and  Wales  Scotland
1971  Wales  Wales  Wales  Scotland
1972 Not Completed  Scotland
1973  England,  France,  Ireland,
 Scotland,  Wales
1974  Ireland  Scotland
1975  Wales  England
1976  Wales  Wales  Wales  Scotland
1977  France  France  Wales  England
1978  Wales  Wales  Wales  England
1979  Wales  Wales
1980  England  England  England  England
1981  France  France  England
1982  Ireland  Ireland
1983  France and  Ireland  Scotland
1984  Scotland  Scotland  Scotland  Scotland
1985  Ireland  Ireland  England
1986  France and  Scotland  Scotland
1987  France  France  England
1988  France and  Wales  Wales  England
1989  France  England  Scotland
1990  Scotland  Scotland  Scotland  Scotland  England  Scotland
1991  England  England  England  England  England  Scotland
1992  England  England  England  England  England  Scotland
1993  France  England  Ireland  Scotland
1994  Wales  England  Ireland
1995  England  England  England  England  England  Scotland
1996  England  England  England  England  Scotland
1997  France  France  England  England  England  Scotland
1998  France  France  England  England  England  Scotland
1999  Scotland  England  England  Scotland

Six Nations (2000–present)

Six Nations (2000–present)
Year Champions Grand Slam Triple Crown Calcutta Cup Millennium
Wooden Spoon
2000  England  Scotland  England  Ireland Not Competed
2001  England  England  Ireland  Scotland
2002  France  France  England  England  England  Ireland
2003  England  England  England  England  England  Ireland  Wales
2004  France  France  Ireland  England  Ireland  Ireland  Scotland
2005  Wales  Wales  Wales  England  Ireland  Ireland  Italy
2006  France  Ireland  Scotland  Ireland  Ireland
2007  France  Ireland  England  Ireland  Ireland  France  Scotland
2008  Wales  Wales  Wales  Scotland  England  Ireland  France  Italy
2009  Ireland  Ireland  Ireland  England  Ireland  Ireland  France
2010  France  France  Ireland  Scotland  France
2011  England  England  Ireland  Ireland  Italy
2012  Wales  Wales  Wales  England  England  Ireland  France  Scotland
2013  Wales  England  England  Scotland  Italy  France
2014  Ireland  England  England  England  Ireland  France  Italy
2015  Ireland  England  Ireland  Ireland  France  Scotland

Six Nations all-time table (2000–2015)

Pld W D L PF PA PD T Pts Champs GS TC WS
 England 80 55 1 24 2218 1257 + 961 232 111 4 1 3 0
 Ireland 80 53 2 25 1952 1449 + 503 196 108 3 1 4 0
 France 80 52 2 26 2002 1425 + 577 193 106 5 3 N/A 1
 Wales 80 44 2 34 1834 1723 + 111 166 90 4 3 3 1
 Scotland 80 19 2 59 1256 2000 −744 91 40 0 0 0 4
 Italy 80 12 1 67 1160 2568 − 1408 97 25 0 0 N/A 10

Titles and awards

Grand Slam wins

Nation Grand Slams Last Grand Slam
 England 12 2003
 Wales 11 2012
 France 9 2010
 Scotland 3 1990
 Ireland 2 2009
 Italy 0 Never achieved

Triple Crown wins

Nation Triple Crowns Last Triple Crown
 England 24 2014
 Wales 20 2012
 Ireland 10 2009
 Scotland 10 1990

Longest wait without a championship win

Team Tournaments Years Seasons
 France 24 43 1910–53
 Ireland 24 24 1985–2009
 Scotland 19 26 1938–64
 England 16 18 1892–1910
 Italy 16 16 2000–ongoing
 Wales 11 11 1994–2005

Wooden Spoon winners (last place)

Team Wooden
Years Awarded
 Italy 10 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008,
2009, 2010, 2011, 2014
 Scotland 4 2004, 2007, 2012, 2015
 Wales 1 2003
 France 1 2013
 England 0
 Ireland 0

Bold indicates that the team did not win any matches.

Player of the tournament winners

Year Winner
2004 Gordon D'Arcy
2005 Martyn Williams
2006 Brian O'Driscoll
2007 Brian O'Driscoll
2008 Shane Williams
2009 Brian O'Driscoll
2010 Tommy Bowe
2011 Andrea Masi
2012 Dan Lydiate
2013 Leigh Halfpenny
2014 Mike Brown
2015 Paul O'Connell

Five Nations XV

Five Nations[a]
Unions International Rugby Board
First match
Overseas Unions 32 – 13 Five Nations XV
Largest win
Largest defeat
Overseas Unions 32 – 13 Five Nations XV

In 1986 a team was put together made up of representatives of the Five Nations to play a one-off match against an Overseas Unions rugby union team to commemorate the centenary of the International Rugby Football Board (IRFB), which would shortly afterwards become the IRB or International Rugby Board. The match was played on Saturday, 19 April 1986,[19] and the Five Nations lost 32–13.[20]

Coaching team

The Overseas Union team was co-coached by New Zealand's Brian Lochore and Australia's Robert Ian Templeton.

The match

Unlike the first celebratory match three days earlier in a wet Cardiff Arms Park, this game was played in ideal conditions at Twickenham.[21] At the time, there were only eight Unions affiliated to the Board, thus only players from those unions were chosen.

Note that at the time, tries were worth four points. The five-point try was not instituted until 1992.

19 April 1986
Five Nations XV 13–32 Overseas Unions
Try: Ringland (2)

Con: Blanco
Penalty Goal: Kiernan
Try: Gerber (2)
du Plessis
Con: Botha
Penalty Goal: Botha (2)
Twickenham Stadium, London
Referee: D I H Burnett (Ireland)

Five Nations: Blanco ( France); Ringland (), Sella ( France), M. Kiernan ( Ireland), R. Underwood (); M. Dacey (), R. J. Hill ( England); Whitefoot ( Wales), S. Brain ( England), I. Milne (), Condom ( France), Lenihan ( Ireland) (captain), J. Jeffrey ( Scotland), Paxton ( Scotland), L. Rodriguez ( France)

Overseas Unions: R. Gould (); Kirwan (), D. Gerber ( South Africa), W. Taylor ( New Zealand), C. du Plessis ( South Africa); N. Botha ( South Africa), Loveridge ( New Zealand); E. Rodríguez ( Australia), A. Dalton ( New Zealand) (captain), G. Knight ( New Zealand) (F. van der Merwe ( South Africa) had been named in starting line-up in programme), S. Cutler ( Australia), Haden ( New Zealand), Poidevin ( Australia), Tuynman ( Australia), M. Shaw ( New Zealand)


England's Jonny Wilkinson currently holds the records for individual points in one match (35 points against Italy in 2001) and one season with 89 (scored in 2001). Ronan O'Gara of Ireland holds the career scoring record with 557 points to Wilkinson's 546, having surpassed Wilkinson in Round 3 of the 2011 championship.

The record for tries in a match is held by Scotsman [22] England's Cyril Lowe and Scotland's Ian Smith jointly hold the record for tries in one season with 8 (Lowe in 1914, Smith in 1925). Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll has the Championship record for tries with 26.

The record for appearances is held by O'Gara, with 63 Six Nations appearances from the start of the Six Nations era in 2000 to his retirement in 2013. He surpassed countryman Mike Gibson in the first round of the 2012 tournament against Wales. Gibson played in 56 Five Nations matches (Italy had not become part of the Championship yet) between 1964 and 1979.[22]

The most points scored by a team in one match was England when they scored 80 points against Italy in 2001. England also scored the most ever points in a season in 2001 with 229, and most tries in a season with 29.[22] Wales hold the record for fewest tries conceded during a season in the Six Nations era, conceding only 2 in 5 games in 2008, but the 1977 Grand Slam-winning France team did not concede a try in their four matches. Wales hold the record for the longest time without conceding a try at 358 minutes in the 2013 tournament.

Six Nations points scoring statistics (2000–2015)

The following table summarises the total number of points, and the number of tries, scored by each team in the Six Nations
Year  England  Wales  Scotland  Ireland  France  Italy Total
points tries points tries points tries points tries points tries points tries points tries
2000 183 20 111 8 95 9 168 17 140 12 106 9 803 75
2001 229 29 125 10 92 8 129 11 115 9 106 8 796 75
2002 184 23 119 11 91 6 145 16 156 15 70 4 765 75
2003 173 18 82 10 81 7 119 10 153 17 100 12 708 74
2004 150 17 125 14 53 4 128 17 144 14 42 2 642 68
2005 121 16 151 17 84 8 126 12 134 13 55 5 671 71
2006 120 12 80 9 78 5 131 12 148 18 72 5 629 61
2007 119 10 86 7 95 7 149 17 155 15 94 9 698 65
2008 108 8 148 13 69 3 93 9 103 11 74 6 595 50
2009 124 16 100 8 79 4 121 12 124 14 49 2 597 56
2010 88 6 113 10 83 3 106 11 135 13 69 5 594 48
2011 132 13 95 6 82 6 93 10 117 10 70 6 589 51
2012 98 7 109 10 56 4 121 13 101 8 53 4 538 46
2013 94 5 122 9 98 7 72 5 73 6 75 5 534 37
2014 138 14 122 11 47 4 132 16 101 9 63 7 603 61
2015 157 18 146 13 73 6 119 8 103 9 62 8 660 62
TOTAL 2218 232 1834 166 1256 91 1952 196 2002 193 1160 97 10422 975



There have been calls to let European Nations Cup.[23] Over 15000 people signed a petition to let the Lelos play in the Six Nations.

Administration, television contracts and sponsorship

The Championship is run from headquarters in Dublin which also takes responsibility for the British and Irish Lions tours. CEO of the Championship is John Feehan, a former Leinster player. Television contracts, sponsorship, match venues and other logistical problems are addressed.

In 2011 it was announced that the BBC's coverage of the tournament on TV, radio and online, would be extended to 2017.[24] However, on 9 July 2015, in reaction to satellite pay-TV bids from Sky Sports and BT Sport for coverage from 2017, BBC agreed to lose exclusive rights to the tournament two years early. But from 2016, BBC and ITV would jointly broadcast the tournament in the UK, with BBC showing all France, Scotland and Wales home matches live, and ITV showing all England, Ireland and Italy home matches live.[25] This means that the Six Nations will remain on free-to-air television in the UK until 2021.

In Ireland, RTÉ have broadcast the championship since RTÉ's inception and will continue to do so until 2017 while TG4 televises highlights. France Télévisions cover the competition in France which will last until 2017. In Italy, from 2014 to 2017 DMAX of Discovery Communications will broadcast all matches. In the United States, beIN Sports broadcasts matches in English and TV5 Monde airs matches in French.[26] In Wales, S4C broadcasts matches featuring the Welsh team in the Welsh language.

The competition is sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland.

See also


a. ^ Name of the Six Nations Championship in the languages of participating countries:

  • Six Nations Championship
  • French: Tournoi des six nations
  • Irish: Comórtas na Sé Náisiún
  • Italian: Torneo delle sei nazioni
  • Scots: Sax Nations Kemp
  • Scottish Gaelic: Na Sia Nàiseanan
  • Welsh: Pencampwriaeth y Chwe Gwlad


  • Starmer-Smith, Nigel (ed) Rugby – A Way of Life, An Illustrated History of Rugby (Lennard Books, 1986 ISBN 0-7126-2662-X)


  1. ^ Godwin (1984), pg 1. The first ever Home Nations International Championship was played in 1883. No other Northern Hemisphere team played a recognised international match until France faced New Zealand in 1906
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b
  17. ^
  18. ^ God Save the King WorldHeritage
  19. ^ Starmer-Smith, p184, image of programme
  20. ^ Starmer-Smith, p186
  21. ^
  22. ^ a b c
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^

External links

  • RBS 6 Nations official website
  • Rugby Union at the BBC
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