Six Nations

The Six Nations is the pinnacle of the northern hemisphere international rugby scene. Taken part by that of England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France and Italy, it sees the strongest nations within this territory go head to head over a gruelling 8 week schedule.

The event takes with the 6 nations that take place and with each, the teams play each other jut once for any single game. At the time of writing, the current sponsors are that of NatWest, but the tournament has seen several different ones over the years including RBS and Lloyds TSB. 

Format

With each Six Nations, you will see that each team plays against each other just once. This creates a total of 18 games per tournament and the winner is the one with the most points at the end of the Six Nations. 

Each country will nominate one stadium to host all their games throughout each Six Nations. This can change year on year, but must remain constant throughout each campaign. As teams only play 5 teams (once against each nation) it means that an uneven number of home and away fixture will be played. So, some teams will play at home twice and away three times whilst others will get 3 home games and 2 away games.

To even things out, the games are rotated home and away for each year of tournament. For example, if Scotland paly Ireland at home one year, the next they will play them away, and so on. So, with some years teams will get a home advantage and then other years they will not. 

In 2017 the points structure was revamped in order to encourage more expansive, attacking rugby. The original layout was 2 points for a win, 1 for a draw and 0 for a loss. Now you will get 4 points for a win, plus a bonus point if you manage to score 4 or more tries. Also, losing sides are able to grab bonus points as well, again if they score 4 or more tires and another point if they are within 7 points of the winning team. 

Six Nations 2018 Fixtures

Date

Time

Fixture

3rd February

2:15 pm

Wales v Scotland

3rd February

4:45 pm

France v Ireland

4th February

3:00 pm

Italy v England

10th February

2:15 pm

Ireland v Italy

10th February

4:45 pm 

England v Wales

11th February

3:00 pm

Scotland v France

23rd February

8:00 pm

France v Italy 

24th February

2:15 pm

Ireland v Wales

24th February

4:45 pm 

Scotland v England 

10th March

2:15 pm

Ireland v Scotland

10th March

4:45 pm

France v England

11th March

3:00 pm

Wales v Italy

17th March

12:3 0pm

Italy v Scotland

17th March

2:45 pm

England v Ireland

17th March

5:00 pm

Wales v France 

Venues

The venues for the game are to be decided before the start of the Six Nations and usually remain the same for most countries. Due to the increasing popularity of the sport and the tournament, you can expect to see that the majority of these games are sold out and the capacity in each stadium is huge.

The largest venue for a single match at the six Nations is that of Twickenham, home of England, The stadium holds an impressive 82,000, closely followed by the Stade de France, with 81,338. The smallest of the six is the newest addition to the fold in Ireland, the Aviva Stadium, with a capacity of just over 51,000. Whilst Italy are the latest addition to the Six Nation, the popularity has meant they needed to move out of their original home of the Stadio Flaminio to corporate more fans, moving to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. 

Six Nations Stadiums & Capacity

Country

Stadium

Capacity

England

Twickenham

82,000

France 

Stade de France

81,338

Wales

Millennium Stadium

74,500

Italy

Stadio Olimpico

72,698

Scotland

Murrayfield

67,144

Ireland 

Aviva Stadium

51,700 

Trophies & Accolades

Throughout the six Nations there are actually quite a few side trophies that can be won by teams. Whilst the one that people want is the Championship Trophy for the overall winner, some of them are played for and won with great pride and often been around for a long time now. 

The next main feat is that of the Grand Slam. This is where the team that wins has done so beating every other team. The Grand Slam is actually pretty rare, but England are the most successful team, earning the accolade on 13 separate times throughout all formats of the Six Nations. Wales currently sit second with 11 wins to their name. 

The Triple Crown is another hotly contested trophy that is played out between England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The winners of the trophy will be those who have beaten all the other teams and it will only be awarded if this happens. Often this trophy is never presented, but again, England are the most successful with 25 Triple Crown wins to their name.

The Calcutta Cup has been contested since 1879 and takes place between two of the oldest rivals in the sport; England and Scotland. Over the 122 times that the cup has been played for, the Calcutta Cup has again been dominated by England, with 71 wins to the Scots 39, with 14 draws. In fact, Scotland are on their worst run with the cup ever, not winning since 2008 and only winning 3 times in the last 26 years. 

The Millennium Trophy is a fairly new addition to the fold, first being played in 1988 to celebrate Dublin’s millennial year. The Viking trophy is probably the most competitive of all the trophies in the Six Nations, with 30 matches taking place in total, England winning 18 and Ireland winning 12. 

The Centenary Quaich takes place between Ireland and Scotland and has been running since 1989. There isn’t an awful lot of information on why the trophy was brought in, but Quaich means Celtic Drinking Vessel, and it’s this that is presented to the winning team. After 29 appearances between the two teams vying for this cup, the scores are currently tied at 14 wins each and 1 draw. 

The latest trophy to be added to the Six Nations is that of the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy. It was first brought in in 2007 and is the only trophy, other than that of the championship of course, that France and Italy play for. Over the 11 times that this trophy has been played for, France have won on 9 occasions with Italy winning just twice. 

Statistics

Throughout the course of the Six Nations, the Five Nations and the Home Nations, as they were once called, England and Wales have been the two standout nations when it comes to success. England have won the Championship on 28 occasions, with Wales just two back in 26. Since the introduction of the Six Nations though, things have been much closer, and France actually sit second to England’s 6 six wins with 5, with Wales in 3rd and Ireland 4th with 3 wins.

Grand slams follow a similar theme, but it’s not England at the top of the pile for the Six Nations. With 3 grand slam titles a piece, France and Wales are at the top, with England next with 2. But, Overall, since the start of the competition, it is England who are out on top with 13 Grand Slams to their name. 

At the flip side of the tournament there is a special award for the team that finishes bottom of the group at the end of the tournament; the Wooden Spoon. No trophy is actually awarded for this and thankfully so as we doubt it would go down too well. The unfortunate ‘winners’ of this over the years is that of Ireland, who have 15 wooden spoons to their name. But, in the Six Nations era it’s Italy who have by far and away the most wooden spoons, with 12 to their name, from just 18 six Nations events. 

Six Nations Wins by Country

Country

Number of Wins

Number of Grand Slams

Last Championship Win

England

6

2

2017

Ireland

3

1

2015

Wales

4

3

2013

France

5

3

2010

About

The 2017 Six Nations was the first tournament where they had brought in the new scoring method, which included points for more tries and also margins of victories. It’s also worth noting that for this they guaranteed the team winning all 5 matches would win the Championship, with an additional 3 points being added if this occurred.

It was England who were able to wrap up a second successive championship victory in the tournament and with it were able to continue their rise up the world rankings. But, they had to work hard and after 4 consecutive wins, they faced a toughened Irish team on the last game of the Six Nations to win the Grand Slam. Ultimately, they came up just short, losing that match 13-9, but were still able to take the championship win, regardless of the result. Interesting, England have done this 5 times in the Six Nations era and also the third time that it’s been Ireland who have denied them of the Grand Slam victory and Triple Crown. 

The team of the tournament would have to go to Scotland though, who managed to pick 3 good wins against Ireland, Wales and Italy along the way. They’ve often been languishing in the bottom two within the tournament for a number of years now, so to finish equal points in second place with Ireland and France (although officially finishing 4th on points difference), it has to be viewed as progress. 

Six Nations Tournament

Position

Team

Points Scored

Points

1st

England

146

19

2nd

Ireland

126

14

3rd

France

107

14

4th

Scotland

122

14

5th

Wales

102

10

6th

Italy

50

History

The start of the competition that lead to the Six Nations was in 1883, but back then it was simply called the home nations. This was contested between England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The Home Nations term referred to that of the UK.

It was in 1910 when the structure of the tournament changed and with it seeing the addition of France into the mix. But, this was the first time they were added and were only in until 1931, where the World War started to take its toll and in turn, the ability to travel became almost impossible. From 1932 to 1939, the tournament slicked back to the Home Nations, with just 4 teams taking part. 

In 1940, upon conclusion of the Second World War, France were added back into the mix and again it was known as the Five Nations. Frances first individual success in the tournament finally came in 1959, but they had tied for first on two other occasions, in 1954 and 1955. This would cement their place in the tournament and put to bed any doubters that claimed they had no place within the original Home Nations tournament. 

This structure would run successfully up until 2000, where it was decided that expansion was needed to include an ever-improving Italian team. As there was little international rugby talking part for teams outside of the Five Nations, Italy’s application was accepted and so the tournament became the Six Nations. 

Since then there have been calls to expand the tournament even further, with the likes of Romania and Georgia both being touted for inclusion due to relative success in previous World Cup campaigns. But, it’s strongly argued that both teams would fail to match even the class of Italy within the completion and would mean an increase in both travel and the timeframe of the already jam-packed Six Nations. 

England

England are undoubtedly the most successful country in the Six Nations. They’ve won it more times than any of the others and have also won more Five Nations than any of the others as well. They’ve been the stronger team for the longest period within the tournaments history and we think fair to say that they are the team that everyone looks to bear, even today. 

Their modern-day dominance was probably only overshadowed by the success they had in the early nineties, more specially 1992. This season they were able to win back to back Grand Slams, something that had never been done before. They also manged to rack up a record points amount and conceded just 4 tries throughout the whole tournament.  

The 2003 win was probably more important for them though and not just because they managed to win another grand slam. The Six Nations victory saw them completely dominate their opponents in just about every match, but it lead to be the springboard to lead Clive Woodward’s team to victory in the 2003 World Cup and give England their 1 and only World Cup win. 

Wales

Wales have always been a bit of a yo-yo team in rugby, unlike the more consistent English. But, there have been times here they have been able to dominate unlike any other team, none more so than throughout the 1970’s. In this era, they had 8 wins or tied 1stplaces from just 10 Five Nations event, a run of form that has rarely been matched before or since. They had the likes of Gareth Edwards, Gerald Davies, Steve Fenwick and Barry John, to name just a few. 

They weren’t able to enjoy similar sort of success until the mid 200’5 and even then, it wasn’t rally on the same scale. They were able to win the Grand Slam in 2005, which really got people excited about Welsh rugby again, following this feat with Grand Slam victories in 2008 and 2012, plus winning the 2013 Six Nations Trophy as well.

Scotland

Scotland have struggled since the start of the Six nations and unfortunately are better known for their collection of 4 wooden spoons than any major trophies to speak of. The Six Nations as a whole haven’t been too kind to the Scots, but positive result in both 2016 and 2017 tournaments look to see Scottish rugby back on the rise. 

Whilst the glory days of Scottish rugby are to be looked back or forward on, they have had spells where they have shown what they are made of, none more so than in 1990. The 1990 Five Nations would prove to be a high point where they managed to overcome strong French dominance to win the Grand Slam, after falling just short 4 years previous. 

Ireland

The Irish have been able to enjoy a good amount of success in more recent years within the Six Nations. They’ve had wins in 2009 (Grand Slam), 2014 and 2015, and have been able to produce some amazing talents in that time. None more so than the legend that is Brian O’Driscoll. He’s won play of the tournament on 3 separate occasions, highlighting his importance to the team. 

The recent move to the Aviva Stadium has seen another improvement in Irish rugby. The stadium has seen the move away from the previous Landsdown Road and allowed them to play at the legendary Croke Park whilst the stadium was being built. 

France

It took a long time for France to really find their feet within the tournament. In fact, they hold the record for the longest stretch without a Championship win, spanning 43 years from 1910 to 1953. 

But, whilst the early days were certainly tough, they are more than established these days and are regarded as one of the best in the world. Their best spell came in the Five Nations, throughout the 1980’s. From 191 to 198 they were either winners or tied 1stfor the tournament 6 times, with 2 Grand Slam wins as well. 

Italy

Italy have been included since the start of the Six Nations, obviously, in 2000. The country were a controversial inclusion and whilst they have struggled on paper, it’s been undoubtable that they have improved over the years, especially given their recent World Cup runs as well. 

With just 12 victories from 90 games, it’s often been a long slog has the Six Nations, but with so few wins, it’s made the games they have won that little bit sweeter. They’ve also manged to produce some truly world class players, such as Diego Dominguez, Sergio Parisse and Martin Castrogiovanni, to name just a few. 

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