Six Nations Championship
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|Current season or competition:
2011 Six Nations Championship
|No. of teams||6|
|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.
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.
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.
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
As of the next edition in 2011, Six Nations matches will be held in the following stadia:
|France||Stade de France||81,338|
|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).
|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)|
|Overall||26 (10)||17 (8)||11 (8)||0 (0)||14 (8)||25 (11)|
Home Nations 1883–1909
|1883||England (Triple Crown)|
|1884||England (Triple Crown)|
|1886||England and 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)|
|1899||Ireland (Triple Crown)|
|1900||Wales (Triple Crown)|
|1901||Scotland (Triple Crown)|
|1902||Wales (Triple Crown)|
|1903||Scotland (Triple Crown)|
|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
|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)|
|1923||England (Grand Slam)|
|1924||England (Grand Slam)|
|1925||Scotland (Grand Slam)|
|1926||Ireland and Scotland|
|1927||Ireland and Scotland|
|1928||England (Grand Slam)|
|Source: Roll of Honour at BBC|
Home Nations 1932–1939
|1932||England, Ireland and Wales|
|1933||Scotland (Triple Crown)|
|1934||England (Triple Crown)|
|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)|
|1952||Wales (Grand Slam)|
|1954||England (Triple Crown), France and Wales|
|1955||France and Wales|
|1957||England (Grand Slam)|
|1960||England (Triple Crown) and France|
|1964||Scotland and Wales|
|1965||Wales (Triple Crown)|
|1968||France (Grand Slam)|
|1969||Wales (Triple Crown)|
|1970||France and Wales|
|1971||Wales (Grand Slam)|
|1973||England, France, Ireland, Scotland and 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)|
|1990||Scotland (Grand Slam)|
|1991||England (Grand Slam)|
|1992||England (Grand Slam)|
|1995||England (Grand Slam)|
|1996||England (Triple Crown)|
|1997||France (Grand Slam)|
|1998||France (Grand Slam)|
|Source: Roll of Honour at BBC|
Six Nations 2000–present
|2002||France (Grand Slam)|
|2003||England (Grand Slam)|
|2004||France (Grand Slam)|
|2005||Wales (Grand Slam)|
|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
Longest wait without a championship win
Last Grand Slam Win
|Nation||Grand Slams Won||Last Grand Slam Season|
Five Nations XV
|Unions||International Rugby Board|
|Overseas Unions 32 - 13 Five Nations XV|
|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.
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)
Penalty Goal: Kiernan
|Try: Gerber (2)
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
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.
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