What is Six Nations Rugby – Background
The Six Nations is an annual rugby tournament between the top rugby nations in the northern hemisphere. France, Wales, England, Ireland, Scotland and Italy passionately compete in the Six Nations Rugby Tournament every year with five games for each team with everyone playing each other once and home advantage alternating from one year to the next. You get two points for a win, one for a draw and none for a loss and unlike most other rugby union competitions the bonus point system is not used.
If a team wins all of its games in the Six Nations then it is said that they have won a Grand Slam. England hold the record for the number of Grand Slams won with 12, followed by Wales with ten, France with nine, Scotland with three and Ireland with two.
If any Home Nation (Wales, England, Ireland, Scotland) wins all of its three matches against the other three Home Nations then it is said to have won a Triple Crown. England hold the record for the number of Triple Crowns won with 23, followed by Wales with 19, Scotland and Ireland both with ten.
The team who finish bottom at the end of the tournament is said to have won the Wooden Spoon and a team which has lost all five matches is said to have been whitewashed.
There are a number of competitions that take place within the Six Nations tournament, the oldest being the Calcutta Cup, which is contested annually between England and Scotland and has been running since 1879. The Millennium Trophy has been awarded to the winner of the game between England and Ireland since 1988 and since 2007, France and Italy have competed for the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy.
What is Six Nations Rugby – History
England and Scotland played the first rugby union international back in 1871, with Scotland coming out on top. After 12 years of occasional friendly matches between the teams, the inaugural Home International Championship, made up of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales was played in 1883. England won that first series, along with a Triple Crown, and up until 1893 when Wales won and 1894 when Ireland won only them and Scotland had been crowned champions.
France officially joined in 1910 point with the Championship now referred to as the Five Nations. England won the first Championship of the new era while Wales won the first Grand Slam of the Five Nations a year later.
The competition was suspended during World War I before France was ejected from the tournament in 1931, which reverted back to being the Home Nations from 1932 through to 1939. Proceedings were halted again during World War II and resumed in 1947 as the Five Nations with France returning to the fold. France won their first shared title seven years later in 1954 and their first outright title in 1959.
By the 1970s the Five Nations had become the pre-eminent series in Northern hemisphere rugby union and matches became all-ticket affairs, with huge popularity and a large television audience. The 1970s also marked the golden age for Welsh rugby as they won three Grand Slams and one Triple Crown during the decade.
Before 1994, teams that finished equal on points shared the Championship but from then on ties were broken by considering the points differences between the teams.
Scotland were the last team to lift the Five Nations trophy as Italy joined the following year in 2000 and the tournament became known as the Six Nations. England were the first nation to win the Six Nations in 2000 before repeating the trick in 2001 and are also the current holders having won the Six Nations Championship in 2011.
What is Six Nations – Interesting Facts
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 551 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 George Lindsay who scored five tries against Wales in 1887.
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 25 from 2000 to the present. He set the record on 19 March 2011 versus England.
The record for appearances is jointly held by two Irishmen—Mike Gibson and O’Gara. Gibson played in 56 Five Nations matches (Italy had not become part of the Championship yet) between 1964 and 1979, whilst O’Gara, who made his first Championship appearance in the inaugural Six Nations in 2000, equalled this record during Ireland’s victory over England in the 2011 6 Nations Championship.
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 28.
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.