Six Nations Championship
The Six Nations Championship[a] is an annual international rugby union competition involving six European sides: England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. It is sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland. The current champions are Ireland, having won the 2015 Tournament.
The Six Nations is the successor to the Five Nations Championship (1910–31 and 1947–99) which in turn succeeded the Home Nations Championship (1883–1909 and 1932–39). The Home Nations Championship, played between teams from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, was the first international rugby union tournament. The winners of the Six Nations Championship are sometimes unofficially referred to in the media as the European Champions or Northern Hemisphere Champions. Ireland are the 2015 champions, having finished on equal table points with Wales and England but winning the trophy by virtue of achieving a higher match points difference.
England and Wales are the joint record holders for outright wins of the Home Nations, Five Nations and Six Nations tournaments, with 26 titles each, although Wales add to that record with 12 shared victories to England's 10. Since the Six Nations era started in 2000, only Italy and Scotland have failed to win the Six Nations title, although Scotland were the last outright winners of the Five Nations.
- 1 Format
- 2 Trophies
- 3 Current venues
- 4 Anthems
- 5 Results
- 6 Titles and awards
- 7 Five Nations XV
- 8 Records
- 9 Six Nations points scoring statistics (2000–2015)
- 10 Expansion
- 11 Administration, television contracts and sponsorship
- 12 See also
- 13 Notes
- 14 Sources
- 15 References
- 16 External links
Played annually, the format of the Championship is simple: each team plays every other team once (making for a total of 15 matches), 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'. Victory by any Home Nation over the other three Home Nations is a 'Triple Crown'. Although this achievement has long been a feature of the tournament, it was not until 2006 that a physical Triple Crown trophy was awarded. At the end of the tournament the team that finishes at the bottom of the league table is said to have won the Wooden Spoon, although no actual trophy is given to the team. A team which has lost all five matches is said to have been whitewashed. Since the inaugural Six Nations tournament in 2000, only England and Ireland have avoided the Wooden Spoon award. Italy are the holders of the most Wooden Spoon awards in the Six Nations era with ten (although each of the other five nations has accumulated more than that through competing in previous eras).
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 donated by the Calcutta Club. Since 1988, the Millennium Trophy has been awarded to the winner of the game between England and Ireland, and since 1989 the Centenary Quaich has been awarded to the winner of the game between Ireland and Scotland. 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 and volunteer in the French Republican Army against Prussia.
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. Were this decider be a tie, the tying teams would 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 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.
A new trophy was introduced for the 2015 Championship. The new trophy was designed and crafted by Thomas Lyte silversmiths and replaces the 1993 edition, which is being retired as it represented the nations that took part in the Five Nations Championship.
Triple Crown Trophy
The Triple Crown may only be won by England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales, when one nation wins all three of their matches against the others, during the Six Nations Championship. The Triple Crown honour has long been a feature of the tournament, dating back to the original Home Nations Championship, but the physical Triple Crown Trophy has been awarded only since 2006. The current holder of the Triple Crown is England, who defeated Ireland, Scotland, and Wales in the 2014 championship. For the 2006 Six Nations, the Royal Bank of Scotland (the primary sponsor of the competition) commissioned Hamilton & Inches to design and create a dedicated Triple Crown Trophy. It has since been won three times by Ireland, twice by Wales and once by England.
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, leader in the unification of Italy and volunteer in the French Republican Army against Prussia
- Millennium Trophy – England versus Ireland; contested since 1988; presented to celebrate Dublin's millennium in 1988
As of the current 2015 competition, Six Nations matches will be held in the following stadia:
|France||Stade de France||81,338|
The opening of the 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 rugby in Italy meant that the Stadio Flaminio was becoming less viable as a home ground for the country's team. As the 2010s approached, it had been speculated that Italy's Six Nations home matches would 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 in Parma (almost 28,000 seats) were suggested as alternative grounds. Improvements for the Flaminio, intended to increase the capacity from 32,000 to 42,000, were announced, apparently increasing the likelihood that rugby would stay at Stadio Flamino, although still making it the smallest of the Six Nations grounds. However, the city of Rome, owner of the Flaminio, delayed the promised renovations, causing the Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) to lose patience with the city. In April 2011, it was reported that the FIR would move its home matches to Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence. The city of Rome then began renovations of the Flaminio, which presumably prompted the FIR to announce in July of that year that it would instead keep its home matches in the city at Stadio Olimpico. The FIR also announced it planned to return to the Flaminio once the project was complete.
In November 2010, the French Rugby Federation (FFR) announced that it is planning to build a new stadium of its own within the Paris region. The FFR has grown increasingly frustrated with several aspects of their using the Stade de France: not only the high rental expense, but also the irritation that it does not receive priority when scheduling matches – with the possible exception of the Six Nations itself.
In June 2012, FFR announced the site for its new ground – tentatively known as Grand Stade FFR – in the southern suburbs of Paris. It is located 25.0 km (15.5 mi) from the centre of Paris. The 82,000-seat stadium, featuring a retractable roof and slide-out pitch, will be built on a former horse racing track in Évry. The new stadium, estimated to cost €600 million, is currently scheduled to open in 2017.
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: "Amhrán na bhFiann" and "Ireland's Call". Ireland's rugby team represents both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. At home games, the Republic's national anthem "Amhrán na bhFiann" is sung first, followed by "Ireland's Call". For away games, only "Ireland's Call" is sung.
- Italy: "Il Canto degli Italiani", usually called "L'inno di Mameli"
- Scotland: "Flower of Scotland". Scotland has no official national anthem. However, since the national rugby union team adopted "Flower of Scotland" in 1990, most other Scottish national teams have followed suit.
- Wales: "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau"
Home Nations (1883–1909)
|Home Nations (1883–1909)|
|Year||Champions||Grand Slam||Triple Crown||Calcutta Cup|
|1885||Not Completed||Not Completed|
|1888||, Scotland and||England didn't participate|
|1889||Scotland||England didn't participate|
|1890||England and Scotland||–||England|
|1897||Not Completed||Not Completed||England|
|1898||Not Completed||Not Completed|
|1906||Ireland and Wales||–||England|
Five Nations (1910–1931)
|Five Nations (1910–1931)|
|Year||Champions||Grand Slam||Triple Crown||Calcutta Cup|
|1912||Ireland and England||–||–||Scotland|
|1915–19||Not held due to World War I|
|1920||Scotland, Wales and England||–||–||England|
|1926||Ireland and Scotland||–||–||Scotland|
|1927||Ireland and Scotland||–||–||Scotland|
Home Nations (1932–1939)
|Home Nations (1932–1939)|
|Year||Champions||Grand Slam||Triple Crown||Calcutta Cup|
|1932||England, Ireland and Wales||–||–||England|
|1939||England, Ireland, Wales||–||–||England|
Five Nations (1940–1999)
Six Nations (2000–present)
Six Nations all-time table (2000–2015)
Titles and awards
Player of the tournament winners
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 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 three 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 four points. The five-point try was not instituted until 1992.
19 April 1986
|Five Nations XV||13–32||Overseas Unions|
Try: Ringland (2)
Penalty Goal: Kiernan
Try: Gerber (2)
Penalty Goal: Botha (2)
Twickenham Stadium, London
Referee: D I H Burnett (Ireland)
Five Nations: Blanco ( France); Ringland (), Sella ( France), M. Kiernan ( Ireland), R. Underwood (); M. Dacey (), R. J. Hill ( England); Whitefoot ( Wales), S. Brain ( England), I. Milne (), Condom ( France), Lenihan ( Ireland) (captain), J. Jeffrey ( Scotland), Paxton ( Scotland), L. Rodriguez ( France)
Overseas Unions: R. Gould (); Kirwan (), D. Gerber ( South Africa), W. Taylor ( New Zealand), C. du Plessis ( South Africa); N. Botha ( South Africa), Loveridge ( New Zealand); E. Rodríguez ( Australia), A. Dalton ( New Zealand) (captain), G. Knight ( New Zealand) (F. van der Merwe ( South Africa) had been named in starting line-up in programme), S. Cutler ( Australia), Haden ( New Zealand), Poidevin ( Australia), Tuynman ( Australia), M. Shaw ( New Zealand)
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 557 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  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 26.
The record for appearances is held by O'Gara, with 63 Six Nations appearances from the start of the Six Nations era in 2000 to his retirement in 2013. He surpassed countryman Mike Gibson in the first round of the 2012 tournament against Wales. Gibson played in 56 Five Nations matches (Italy had not become part of the Championship yet) 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 29. 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. Wales hold the record for the longest time without conceding a try at 358 minutes in the 2013 tournament.
Six Nations points scoring statistics (2000–2015)The following table summarises the total number of points, and the number of tries, scored by each team in the Six Nations
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.
In 2011 it was announced that the BBC's coverage of the tournament on TV, radio and online, would be extended to 2017. However, on 9 July 2015, in reaction to satellite pay-TV bids from Sky Sports and BT Sport for coverage from 2017, BBC agreed to lose exclusive rights to the tournament two years early. But from 2016, BBC and ITV would jointly broadcast the tournament in the UK, with BBC showing all France, Scotland and Wales home matches live, and ITV showing all England, Ireland and Italy home matches live. This means that the Six Nations will remain on free-to-air television in the UK until 2021.
In Ireland, RTÉ have broadcast the championship since RTÉ's inception and will continue to do so until 2017 while TG4 televises highlights. France Télévisions cover the competition in France which will last until 2017. In Italy, from 2014 to 2017 DMAX of Discovery Communications will broadcast all matches. In the United States, beIN Sports broadcasts matches in English and TV5 Monde airs matches in French. In Wales, S4C broadcasts matches featuring the Welsh team in the Welsh language.
The competition is sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland.
- Six Nations Under 20s Championship
- Women's Six Nations Championship
- Rugby World Cup
- World Rugby Under 20 Championship
- Women's Rugby World Cup
- List of Six Nations Championship hat-tricks
a. ^ Name of the Six Nations Championship in the languages of participating countries:
- Starmer-Smith, Nigel (ed) Rugby – A Way of Life, An Illustrated History of Rugby (Lennard Books, 1986 ISBN 0-7126-2662-X)
- Godwin (1984), pg 1. The first ever Home Nations International Championship was played in 1883. No other Northern Hemisphere team played a recognised international match until France faced New Zealand in 1906
- God Save the King WorldHeritage
- Starmer-Smith, p184, image of programme
- Starmer-Smith, p186
- RBS 6 Nations official website
- Rugby Union at the BBC