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Six Nations Championship

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Six Nations Championship
Current season or competition:
2011 Six Nations Championship
Sport Rugby union
Founded 1883
No. of teams 6
Country(ies)  England
Most recent champion(s)   France

The Six Nations Championship (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. 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.

France are the current Grand Slam title holders, unseating Ireland, who won a Grand Slam and a Triple crown in 2009. France won the 2010 title on 20 March, completing their Grand Slam before their home fans at Stade de France in a 12-10 win against England.


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 9, 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. 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. 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 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 are the last nation to win the Triple Crown, having done so as part of their 2009 Grand Slam.

Other trophies

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

  • Calcutta Cup – England versus Scotland; contested annually since 1879
  • Centenary Quaich – Scotland versus Ireland; contested annually since 1989; a quaich is a Gaelic drinking vessel
  • Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy – France versus Italy; contested since 2007; in memory of Giuseppe Garibaldi
  • Millennium Trophy – England versus Ireland; contested since 1988; presented to celebrate Dublin's millennium in 1988

Current venues

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

As of the next edition in 2011, Six Nations matches will be held in the following stadia:

Team Stadium Capacity
England Twickenham 82,000
France Stade de France 81,338
Wales Millennium Stadium 74,500
Scotland Murrayfield 67,130
Ireland Aviva Stadium 51,700
Italy Stadio Flaminio 32,000, Expanding to 41,000

The opening of 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 palla ovale in Italy meant that Stadio Flaminio was becoming less viable as a home ground for the country's team. It has been speculated that Italy's Six Nations home matches may 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, 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.


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, 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.

  • England: God Save the Queen
  • France: La Marseillaise
  • Ireland: Ireland's Call ( Amhrán na bhFiann is also sung at matches played in the Republic of Ireland)
  • Italy: Il Canto degli Italiani usually called L' Inno di Mameli
  • Scotland: Flower of Scotland
  • Wales: Hen Wlad fy Nhadau



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 112 82 112 13 112 112
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 4 5 1 0 0 3
Overall 26 (10) 17 (8) 11 (8) 0 (0) 14 (8) 25 (11)
Grand Slams 12 9 2 0 3 11
Triple Crowns 23 N/A 10 N/A 10 20
Wooden Spoons 22 17 36 9 33 22

Home Nations 1883–1909

1883  England (Triple Crown)
1884  England (Triple Crown)
1885  England
1886  England and  Scotland
1887  Scotland
1888  Ireland
1889  Scotland
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)
1909  Wales (Grand Slam)
Source: Roll of Honour at BBC

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

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

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 (Triple Crown)
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  Scotland and   France
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
1995  England (Grand Slam)
1996  England (Triple Crown)
1997   France (Grand Slam)
1998   France (Grand Slam)
1999  Scotland
Source: Roll of Honour at BBC

Six Nations 2000–present

2000  England
2001  England
2002   France (Grand Slam)
2003  England (Grand Slam)
2004   France (Grand Slam)
2005  Wales (Grand Slam)
2006   France
2007   France
2008  Wales (Grand Slam)
2009  Ireland (Grand Slam)
2010   France (Grand Slam)
Source: Roll of Honour at BBC

Six Nations All-Time Table (2000–2010)

Includes matches played 20 March 2010

Pld W D L PF PA PD T Pts Champs GS TC WS
  France 55 41 0 14 1507 956 551 151 82 5 3 N/A 0
 Ireland 55 39 0 16 1415 1088 327 144 78 1 1 4 0
 England 55 35 1 19 1599 862 737 175 71 3 1 2 0
 Wales 55 25 2 28 1353 1455 −102 128 52 2 2 2 1
 Scotland 55 15 2 38 900 1410 −510 64 32 0 0 0 2
  Italy 55 7 1 47 837 1840 −1003 67 15 0 0 N/A 8

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
  Italy 11+ 11+ 2000–present
 Wales 11 11 1994–2005

Last Grand Slam Win

Nation Grand Slams Won Last Grand Slam Season
  France 9 2010
 Ireland 2 2009
 Wales 10 2008
 England 12 2003
 Scotland 3 1990
  Italy 0 Never Achieved

Five Nations XV

Five Nations
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 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, and the Five Nations lost 32-13.

Coaching team

  •  Ireland Declan Kidney (Coach)
  •   France Jacques Fouroux (Coach)
  •  Wales Clive Rowlands (Manager)

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. 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 4 points. The modern 5-point try was not instituted until 1992.

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: S Blanco (  France); T M Ringland ( Ireland), P Sella (  France), M J Kiernan ( Ireland), R 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), J 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. On 20 March 2010 Jonny Wilkinson regained the record by kicking a penalty against France taking him to 529 points. The record for tries in a match is held by Scotsman George Lindsay who scored five tries against Wales in 1887. 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. 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 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 2000–2010

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 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
2010 88 6 113 10 83 3 106 9 135 13 69 5 594 46
TOTAL 1566 171 1242 117 924 64 1405 141 1495 151 814 65 7446 709

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 814 points.


During the 1980s, Romania expressed an interest in joining the tournament, but rugby in that country began a sharp decline after the Romanian Revolution of 1989, and the decline accelerated after the sport went professional in 1995.

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.

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.


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. Television 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. In Wales, S4C have on occasions screened matches featuring the national team's home games using the BBC's feed with Welsh commentary, with a number of English speaking former Welsh players using the Welsh language for studio analysis and pitch side reporting.

The competition is sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Player stats

Points Jonny Wilkinson - 529 Ronan O'Gara - 527 Stephen Jones - 445 Neil Jenkins - 396 Chris Paterson - 372 David Humphreys - 267

Tries Brian O'Driscoll - 22 Shane Williams - 20 Ben Cohen - 16 Will Greenwood - 15 Jason Robinson - 14 Denis Hickie - 13

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