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Six Nations Championship
Current season or competition:
2010 Six Nations Championship
Sport Rugby union
Founded 1883
No. of teams 6
Country(ies)  England
Most recent champion(s) Ireland

The Six Nations Championship[a] (referred to as RBS 6 Nations for sponsorship reasons) is an annual international rugby union competition involving six European sides: England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales.

The Six Nations Championship is the successor to the Five Nations and the Home Nations Championship, which was the first international rugby union tournament in the Northern Hemisphere.[1] The event is currently sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland. The winners of the Six Nations Championship are also known as the European Champions.

Ireland are the current Grand Slam title holders, for the first time since 1948, having won the competition in 2009 by beating all other teams, and winning the Triple Crown by beating England, Scotland and Wales.



The locations of the Six Nations participants

Played annually, the format of the Championship is simple: each team plays every other team once, 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'. Back to back Grand Slams have been achieved on five occasions, by Wales in 1908 and 1909, by England in 1913 and 1914, 1923 and 1924 and 1991 and 1992, and by France in 1997 and 1998. England holds the record for the number of Grand Slams won with 12, followed by Wales with 10, France with 8, Scotland with 3 and Ireland with 2.

Victory by any Home Nation over the other three Home Nations is a 'Triple Crown'. The Triple Crown has twice been won on four consecutive occasions, once by Wales in 1976, 1977, 1978, and 1979 and once by England in 1995, 1996, 1997, and 1998. England hold the record for the number of Triple Crowns won with 23, followed by Wales with 20 and Scotland and Ireland with 10. Although this achievement has long been a feature of the tournament, it was not until 2006 that a physical trophy, commissioned by the Royal Bank of Scotland, was awarded.

At the end of the tournament the team that finishes at the bottom of the table is said to have won the Wooden Spoon.

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. Since 1988, the Millennium Trophy has been awarded to the winner of the game between England and Ireland. 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. Garibaldi was born in Nizza (now the French city of Nice) in 1807.

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. If even this decider is tied, the tying teams share the championship.[2] To date, however, match points and points difference have been sufficient to decide the championship.


Championship Trophy

Six Nations Championship and Triple Crown Trophies

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 is valued at £55,000. Although originally silver on the inside, the trophy became so corroded through celebratory champagne fillings[citation needed] that it is now plated with 22 carat gold for protection.

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.

If the champions have won all their matches, then they will have won the Grand Slam, although no actual trophy is awarded for this achievement.

Triple Crown Trophy

The Triple Crown can only be awarded to either England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales, and is awarded when one of those nations wins their matches against each of the others. As no trophy was historically awarded for winning the Triple Crown, it was often called 'the invisible cup'. In 2006 the primary sponsor of the competition, the Royal Bank of Scotland, commissioned a trophy to be awarded to Triple Crown winners.

The award, a silver dish known as the Triple Crown Trophy, was contested for the first time in the 2006 Six Nations. Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll claimed the trophy for Ireland at Twickenham on 18 March after a last-minute try from Shane Horgan gave Ireland a 28–24 win over England.

Ireland currently hold the Triple Crown after beating Wales 17–15 at the Millennium Stadium on 21 March 2009.

Other trophies

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

Current venues

Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, the home of Scottish rugby union.

As per 2009, Six Nations matches were held in the following stadia:

Team Stadium Capacity
Ireland Croke Park 82,300
England Twickenham 82,000
France Stade de France 81,338
Wales Millennium Stadium 74,500
Scotland Murrayfield 67,130
Italy Stadio Flaminio 32,000, Expanding to 41,000

Croke Park is not the normal home of Irish rugby; it is the flagship stadium of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). Ireland's traditional home, Lansdowne Road, has been unavailable since the start of 2007 due to the construction of a completely new stadium on the site of what had become an increasingly run-down structure. The all-Ireland governing body for rugby union, the Irish Rugby Football Union, reached an agreement with the GAA to allow Ireland to play their 6 Nations fixtures at Croke Park in 2007. The agreement has continued throughout the construction of the new stadium at the Lansdowne Road site, which will be known as Aviva Stadium when it opens in April 2010. Ireland will play their first Six Nations matches at their new ground in 2011.

Similarly, the Stadio Flaminio may no longer be big enough, since "palla ovale" is becoming more popular in Italy. Rugby games may in 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, Parma (almost 28,000 seats) have been suggested as alternative grounds. But recently, improvements for Flaminio have been announced increasing the likelihood that rugby will stay at Stadio Flamino, although still making it the smallest of the six nations grounds.[9]


Although God Save the Queen is, by custom and usage, the national anthem of the whole United Kingdom[10], in many sporting events it is used only by England; Wales and Scotland use separate anthems, which both hold unofficial national anthem status. Ireland, whose rugby team represents two jurisdictions (the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland), have a specially commissioned anthem for rugby internationals.


For 2009 results, see 2009 Six Nations Championship


Overall England has the most Home Nations, Five Nations, and Six Nations tournament victories with 25 (excluding 10 shared victories). Next is Wales with 24 (excluding 11 shared).






Tournaments 107 77 107 9 107 107
Outright Wins (Shared Wins)
Home Nations 5 (4) - 4 (3) - 9 (2) 7 (3)
Five Nations 17 (6) 12 (8) 6 (5) - 5 (6) 15 (8)
Six Nations 3 4 1 0 0 2
Overall 25 (10) 16 (8) 11 (8) 0 (0) 14 (8) 23 (11)
Grand Slams 12 8 2 0 3 10
Triple Crowns 23 N/A 10 N/A 10 19

Home Nations 1883–1909

1883  England (Triple Crown)
1884  England (Triple Crown)
1885 Not completed
1886  England and  Scotland
1887  Scotland
1888 Not completed
1889 Not completed
1890  England and  Scotland
1891  Scotland (Triple Crown)
1892  England (Triple Crown)
1893  Wales (Triple Crown)
1894  Ireland (Triple Crown)
1895  Scotland (Triple Crown)
1896  Ireland
1897 Not completed
1898 Not completed
1899  Ireland (Triple Crown)
1900  Wales (Triple Crown)
1901  Scotland (Triple Crown)
1902  Wales (Triple Crown)
1903  Scotland (Triple Crown)
1904  Scotland
1905  Wales (Triple Crown)
1906  Wales and  Ireland
1907  Scotland (Triple Crown)
1908  Wales (Grand Slam)[11]
1909  Wales (Grand Slam)[11]
Source: Roll of Honour at BBC[12]

Five Nations 1910–1931

1910  England
1911  Wales (Grand Slam)
1912  England and  Ireland
1913  England (Grand Slam)
1914  England (Grand Slam)
1915–19 Not held due to World War I
1920  England,  Scotland and  Wales
1921  England (Grand Slam)
1922  Wales
1923  England (Grand Slam)
1924  England (Grand Slam)
1925  Scotland (Grand Slam)
1926  Ireland and  Scotland
1927  Ireland and  Scotland
1928  England (Grand Slam)
1929  Scotland
1930  England
1931  Wales
Source: Roll of Honour at BBC[12]

Home Nations 1932–1939

1932  England,  Ireland and  Wales
1933  Scotland (Triple Crown)
1934  England (Triple Crown)
1935  Ireland
1936  Wales
1937  England (Triple Crown)
1938  Scotland (Triple Crown)
1939  England,  Ireland and  Wales
Source: Roll of Honour at BBC[12]

Five Nations 1940–1999

1940–46 Not held due to World War II
1947  England and  Wales
1948  Ireland (Grand Slam)
1949  Ireland (Triple Crown)
1950  Wales (Grand Slam)
1951  Ireland
1952  Wales (Grand Slam)
1953  England
1954  England (Triple Crown),  France and  Wales
1955  France and  Wales
1956  Wales
1957  England (Grand Slam)
1958  England
1959  France
1960  England (Triple Crown) and  France
1961  France
1962  France
1963  England
1964  Scotland and  Wales
1965  Wales
1966  Wales
1967  France
1968  France (Grand Slam)
1969  Wales (Triple Crown)
1970  France and  Wales
1971  Wales (Grand Slam)
1972 Not completed
1973  England,  France,  Ireland,  Scotland and  Wales
1974  Ireland
1975  Wales
1976  Wales (Grand Slam)
1977  France (Grand Slam) with the same fifteen players, the only time in a rugby championship
1978  Wales (Grand Slam)
1979  Wales (Triple Crown)
1980  England (Grand Slam)
1981  France (Grand Slam)
1982  Ireland (Triple Crown)
1983  France and  Ireland
1984  Scotland (Grand Slam)
1985  Ireland (Triple Crown)
1986  France and  Scotland
1987  France (Grand Slam)
1988  France and  Wales (Triple Crown)
1989  France
1990  Scotland (Grand Slam)
1991  England (Grand Slam)
1992  England (Grand Slam)
1993  France
1994  Wales[13]
1995  England (Grand Slam)
1996  England[13] (Triple Crown)
1997  France (Grand Slam)
1998  France (Grand Slam)
1999  Scotland[13]
Source: Roll of Honour at BBC[12]

Six Nations 2000–present

2000  England
2001  England[13]
2002  France (Grand Slam)
2003  England (Grand Slam)
2004  France (Grand Slam)
2005  Wales (Grand Slam)
2006  France[13]
2007  France[13]
2008  Wales (Grand Slam)
2009  Ireland (Grand Slam)
Source: Roll of Honour at BBC[12]

Six Nations All-Time Table (2000–2009)

Includes matches played 7 March 2009

Pld W D L PF PA PD T Pts Champs GS TC WS
 France 50 36 0 14 1372 887 485 138 72 4 2 N/A 0
 Ireland 50 36 0 14 1309 993 316 133 72 1 1 4 0
 England 50 33 0 17 1511 786 725 169 66 3 1 2 0
 Wales 50 23 2 62 1
 Scotland 50 14 1 35 817 1310 −493 61 29 0 0 0 2
 Italy 50 6 1 43 768 1707 −939 62 13 0 0 N/A 7

Longest wait without a championship win

Team Tournaments Years Season
 France 24 43 1910-1953
 Ireland 24 24 1985–2009
 Scotland 19 26 1938–1964
 England 16 18 1892–1910
 Wales 11 11 1994–2005
 Italy 10+ 10+ 2000–present

Last Grand Slam Win

Nation Grand Slams Won Last Grand Slam Season
 Ireland 2 2009
 Wales 10 2008
 France 8 2004
 England 12 2003
 Scotland 3 1990
 Italy 0 Never Achieved

Five Nations XV

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

In 1986 a team was put together made up of representatives of the Five Nations in order 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 [14], and the Five Nations lost 32-13.[15]

Coaching team

The match

Unlike the first celebratory match 3 days earlier in a wet Cardiff Arms Park, this game was played in ideal conditions at Twickenham.[16] At the time, there were only eight Unions affiliated to the Board, thus only players from those unions were chosen.

April 19, 1986
Five Nations 13 – 32 Overseas Unions Twickenham Stadium, London
Referee: D I H Burnett (Ireland)
Try: Ringland (2)

Con: Blanco
Penalty Goal: Kiernan
Try: Gerber (2)
du Plessis
Con: Botha
Penalty Goal: Botha (2)

Five Nations: Serge Blanco ( France); T M Ringland ( Ireland), P Sella ( France), M J Kiernan ( Ireland), Rory Underwood ( England); M Dacey ( Wales), R J Hill ( England); J Whitefoot ( Wales), S E Brain ( England), I G Milne ( Scotland), J Condom ( France), D G Lenihan ( Ireland) (captain), John Jeffrey ( Scotland), I A M Paxton ( Scotland), L Rodriguez ( France)

Overseas Unions: R G Gould ( Australia); J J Kirwan ( New Zealand), D M Gerber ( South Africa), W T Taylor ( New Zealand), C J du Plessis ( South Africa); H E Botha ( South Africa), D S Loveridge ( New Zealand); E E Rodriguez ( Australia), A G Dalton ( New Zealand) (captain), G A Knight ( New Zealand) (P R van der Merwe ( South Africa) had been named in starting lineup in programme), SAG Cutler ( Australia), A M Haden ( New Zealand), S P Poidevin ( Australia), S N Tuynman ( Australia), M W Shaw ( New Zealand)


The record for individual points in one match is held by England's Jonny Wilkinson with 35 points scored against Italy in 2001 and points in one season with 89 (scored in 2001). Ronan O'Gara holds the record for career points with 520 points. The record for tries in a match is held by Scotsman George Lindsay who scored five tries against Wales in 1887.[17] The record for appearances is held by Irishman Mike Gibson who played in 56 Five Nations matches (Italy had not become part of the Championship yet) matches between 1964 and 1979.[17] 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.[17] Wales hold the record for least 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.

Six Nations points scoring statistics 2000–2009

The following table summarises the total number of points, and the number of tries, scored by each team in the Six Nations

-  England  Wales  Scotland  Ireland  France  Italy Total
2000 183(20) 111(8) 95(9) 168(17) 140(12) 106(9) 803 (75)
2001 229(28) 125(10) 116(8) 129(11) 115(9) 106(8) 820 (74)
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) 153(17) 84(8) 126(12) 134(13) 55(5) 673 (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 75(5) 148(13) 69(3) 83(8) 91(11) 51(4) 517(44)
2009 124(16) 100(8) 79(4) 121(12) 124(14) 49(2) 597(56)
TOTAL 1478(165) 1129(107) 841(61) 1299(132) 1360(138) 745(60) 6852 (663)

The record number of points in a season is 229 by England in 2001. They also scored the most tries (28) in a single Six Nations Tournament that year. The lowest scoring team is Italy, who have only managed 745 points.


During the 1980s, Romania expressed an interest in joining the tournament, but rugby in that country declined sharply after the fall of the Iron Curtain.

Georgia have expressed interest in joining the Six Nations to create a Seven Nations Tournament or possibly having a promotion/relegation play-off with the last place team.[citation needed]

Argentina showed interest in joining the Six Nations, but will now join the Tri Nations in the year 2012, possibly becoming the Quad Nations or Four Nations.[18]


The Women's Six Nations Championship is run to the same schedule and on the same weekends as the men's competition. The first women's tournament Six Nations was in the 2002 season, though a Five Nations ran from 1999 to 2001, and a Home Nations tournament from 1996–1998. The tournament included the same national teams as the men's competition did, with the exception that Spain took part instead of Italy.

This continued until 2007 when, as a result of the formal adoption of the competition by the Six Nations Committee, Spain was replaced with Italy – purely in order to align both the women's and men's national team participants. Historically in women's rugby Spain had been a significantly stronger team than not only Italy, but had occasionally finished above Ireland, Wales, and Scotland in the tournament.

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. Televison contracts, sponsorship, match venues and other logistical problems are addressed.

TV Coverage and radio coverage of the competition is available on the BBC's various platforms in the United Kingdom. In Ireland, RTÉ have broadcast the championship since their inception. France Télévisions cover the competition in France whilst in Italy, Sky Italia are the newest broadcaster of the competition. In the United States, BBC America simulcasts the BBC's feed.

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:


  • Godwin, Terry (1984). The International Rugby Championship 1883-1983. London: Willows Books. ISBN 000218060X. 
  • 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. First ever Home Nations International Championship played in 1883, no other Northern Hemisphere team played a recognised international match until France faced New Zealand in 1906
  2. ^ "Rules of the RBS 6 Nations Championship". RBS 6 Nations. Retrieved 24 February 2008. 
  3. ^ "Six Nations Championship Trophy Trust". RBS 6 Nations. Retrieved 5 February 2007. 
  4. ^ "The Calcutta Cup: the legacy of a club that died" (pdf). Scottish Rugby. Retrieved 29 September 2007. 
  5. ^ Massie, Alan (19 February 2000). "Lamenting the sad decline of the fighting Irish". The Scotsman. p. 31. 
  6. ^ Ferrie, Kevin (22 March 1999). "Scotland now have quality in quantity". The Herald. p. 1. 
  7. ^ Walsh, David (13 February 2005). "Scots torn apart by Irish mean machine". The Sunday Times. p. Sport 2. 
  8. ^ "About Us". RFU. Retrieved 29 September 2007. 
  9. ^ Ticket Booth
  10. ^ God Save the King Wikipedia
  11. ^ a b Although only a Home Nations Championship, Wales also beat France in both 1908 and 1909 and are regarded therefore as Grand Slam winners for both years.
  12. ^ a b c d e "Six Nations roll of honour". BBC. 29 January 2004. Retrieved 3 March 2007. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f Asterisk * indicates won on points difference
  14. ^ Starmer-Smith, p184, image of programme
  15. ^ Starmer-Smith, p186
  16. ^ match summary
  17. ^ a b c "Six Nations records". Rugby Heaven. 1 February 2005. Retrieved 8 August 2007. 
  18. ^ Argentina invited to join the Tri-Nations ESPN, 14 September 2009

External links

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