Six Nations Championship
|Current season or competition::
2018 Six Nations Championship
The NatWest 6 Nations logo
|Instituted||1883 (as Home Nations Championship)
1910 (as Five Nations Championship)
2000 (as Six Nations Championship)
|Number of teams||6|
|Holders||England (38th title) (2017)|
|Most titles||England (38: 28 outright titles, 10 shared titles)|
The Six Nations Championship[a] (known as the NatWest 6 Nations for sponsorship reasons) is an annual international rugby union competition between the teams of England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. The current champions are England, having won the 2017 tournament.
The Six Nations is the successor to the Home Nations Championship (1883–1909 and 1932–39), played between teams from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, which was the first international rugby union tournament. With the addition of France, this became the Five Nations Championship (1910–31 and 1947–99), which in turn became the Six Nations Championship with the addition of Italy. The winners of the Six Nations Championship are sometimes unofficially referred to in the media as the European Champions or Northern Hemisphere Champions.
England hold the record for outright wins of the Home Nations, Five Nations and Six Nations tournaments, with 28 titles, although Wales follow closely with 26 outright wins with the addition of 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 Records
- 8 Expansion
- 9 Administration, television contracts and sponsorship
- 10 See also
- 11 Notes
- 12 Sources
- 13 References
- 14 External links
Played annually, the format of the Championship is simple: each team plays every other team once (making a total of 15 matches), with home ground advantage alternating from one year to the next. Prior to the 2017 tournament, two points were awarded for a win, one for a draw and none for a loss. Unlike many other rugby union competitions the bonus point system has not previously been used.
On 30 November 2016, the 6 Nations Committee announced that the bonus point system will be trialled for the 2017 Championship. The system will be similar to the one used in most rugby championships (0 points for a loss, 2 for a draw, 4 for a win, 1 for scoring four or more tries in match, and 1 for losing by 7 points or fewer), with the only difference being that a Grand Slam winner will be given 3 extra points to ensure they finish top of the table. A review on how well the system worked will take place following the tournament.
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.
Also, 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 eleven, and have been whitewashed six times. However, 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 volunteered in the French Republican Army against Prussia.
Prior to 1994, teams equal on match 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 to 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 2016 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 and twice by England and Wales.
Several other trophies are contested within the main competition, mostly as long-standing fixtures between pairs of teams:
- Millennium Trophy – England versus Ireland; contested since 1988, presented to celebrate Dublin's millennium in 1988.
- 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.
As of the current 2017 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, but never did so.
In November 2010, the French Rugby Federation (FFR) announced that it was planning to build a new stadium of its own within the Paris region. The FFR had 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. The site was 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, would have been built on a former horse racing track in Évry. The new stadium, estimated to cost €600 million, was scheduled to open in 2017. After numerous delays, the project was cancelled in December 2016 after Bernard Laporte was elected president of the FFR.
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, has both the Republic's anthem and a specially commissioned one for rugby internationals.
- England: "God Save the Queen". England has no official national anthem. However, it chooses to use the national anthem of the United Kingdom "God Save the Queen/King".
- 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" or "Fratelli d'Italia."
- 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 sports teams have followed suit.
- Wales: "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau"
|Outright Wins (Shared Wins)|
|Home Nations||5 (4)||NA||4 (4)||NA||10 (3)||7 (4)|
|Five Nations||17 (6)||12 (8)||6 (5)||NA||5 (6)||15 (8)|
|Overall||28 (10)||17 (8)||13 (9)||0 (0)||15 (9)||26 (12)|
Home Nations (1883–1909)
|Home Nations (1883–1909)|
|Year||Champions||Grand Slam||Triple Crown||Calcutta Cup|
|1885||Not completed||Not completed|
|1886||England and Scotland||–||–|
|1888||Ireland, Scotland and Wales||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 pre-bonus point scoring (2000–2016)
Six Nations all-time table with bonus point scoring (2017–)
Titles and awards
|Nation||Grand Slams||Last Grand Slam|
|Nation||Triple Crowns||Last Triple Crown|
|Team||Wooden Spoons||Years awarded|
|Italy||12||2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2017|
|Scotland||4||2004, 2007, 2012, 2015|
Bold indicates that the team did not win any matches.
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 George Lindsay who scored five tries against Wales in 1887. 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.
In late 2015 there were calls by Octavian Morariu, the president of Rugby Union's governing body for promotion and development, to let Georgia and Romania join the Six Nations due to their consistent success in the European Nations Cup and ability to compete in the Rugby World Cup.
Administration, television contracts and sponsorship
The Championship is run from headquarters in Dublin, Ireland by Six Nations Rugby Ltd. 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.
The BBC covered the tournament since the start covering all matches apart from England home matches which were live on Sky Sports with highlights on BBC between 1997 and 2002. Between 2003 and 2015, the BBC covered every match live on BBC Sport either on BBC One or BBC Two with highlights also on the BBC Sport website and either on the BBC Red Button or late at night on BBC Two. 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 however in late 2015 it was announced that free to air rival TV3 would take over the rights for every game from the 6 Nations on Irish Television from 2018–2021 meaning after the 2017 championship RTÉ have lost the rights.
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.
From 1883 to 1998, the Championship had no title sponsor. Sponsorship rights were sold to Lloyds TSB for the 1999 tournament and remained title sponsor until 2003. Royal Bank of Scotland Group took over the sponsorship from 2004 until 2017. A new main title sponsor was sought for the 2018 tournament and beyond. However, after struggling to find a new sponsor, organisers agreed a new 1 year extension with Royal Bank of Scotland Group at reduced rate. As the RBS initials brand is being phased out, the tournament will be named after subsidiary, NatWest.
|1883–1910||No sponsor||Home Nations Championship|
|1910–1998||No sponsor||Five Nations Championship|
|1999||Lloyds TSB||Lloyds TSB 5 Nations|
|2000–2003||Lloyds TSB||Lloyds TSB 6 Nations|
|2004–2017||Royal Bank of Scotland Group||RBS 6 Nations|
|2018||Royal Bank of Scotland Group||NatWest 6 Nations|
- 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:
- Godwin, Terry (1984). The International Rugby Championship 1883–1983. London: Willows Books. ISBN 0-00-218060-X.
- 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
- "Rules of the RBS 6 Nations Championship". RBS 6 Nations. Archived from the original on 9 May 2008. Retrieved 24 February 2008.
- "Six Nations Championship Trophy Trust". RBS 6 Nations. Archived from the original on 2 February 2007. Retrieved 5 February 2007.
- "New Six Nations trophy unveiled". ESPN. 28 January 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
- "Will Ireland be getting their hands on this? New trophy for the RBS Six Nations unveiled". Irish Independent. 28 January 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
- "The Calcutta Cup: the legacy of a club that died". Scottish Rugby. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 February 2007. Retrieved 29 September 2007.
- "About Us". RFU. Archived from the original on 6 September 2007. Retrieved 29 September 2007.
- Massie, Alan (19 February 2000). "Lamenting the sad decline of the fighting Irish". The Scotsman. p. 31.
- Ferrie, Kevin (22 March 1999). "Scotland now have quality in quantity". The Herald. p. 1.
- Walsh, David (13 February 2005). "Scots torn apart by Irish mean machine". The Sunday Times. p. Sport 2.
- Mediaclan 2008. "Flaminio Stadio Rugby Tickets & Stadio Flaminio Stadium guide, Rome Italy". Ticketbooth.org.uk. Retrieved 4 February 2012.
- "Italy to move Six Nations games from Rome to Florence". BBC Sport. 1 April 2011. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
- "RBS 6 Nazioni, allo Stadio Olimpico l'Edizione 2012" (Press release) (in Italian). Italian Rugby Federation. 13 July 2011. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
- Sportsbeat (14 July 2011). "Italy switch stadium to Stadio Olimpico". RBS 6 Nations. Archived from the original on 13 September 2011. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
- "French national rugby team plan to quit Stade de France". BBC Sport. 25 November 2010. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
- Moriarty, Ian (5 July 2012). "Money talks". ESPN Scrum. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
- "Projet Stade" (in French). French Rugby Federation. Archived from the original on 15 June 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
- "Rugby-French federation drops plans for new stadium". Reuters. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
- God Save the King Wikipedia
- "Statsguru: Test matches, Team records, Five/Six Nations". ESPN Scrum. SFMS Limited. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- "Six Nations records". Rugby Heaven. 1 February 2005. Archived from the original on 13 January 2006. Retrieved 8 August 2007.
- "Open up the Six Nations and let Georgia in". Telegraph.co.uk. 25 March 2015. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
- "let in Georgia and Romania, says governing body". Guardian.com. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
- Brown, David. "BBC reclaims Six Nations rugby from Sky with £70m three-year contract". The Independent. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
- "BBC extends Six Nations contract until 2017". BBC. 23 November 2011. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
- "BBC and ITV bid wins Six Nations TV rights until 2021". Retrieved 9 July 2015.
- "RTÉ loses rights to 6 Nations". rte.ie. RTÉ Sport. Retrieved 2016-01-28.
- "Worldwide Broadcast Schedule, RBS Six Nations". Retrieved 23 January 2014.
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