Triple Crown (rugby union)

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In rugby union, the Triple Crown is an honour contested annually by the "Home Nations" – i.e. England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales who compete within the larger Six Nations Championship. If any one of these teams defeats all three other teams, they win the Triple Crown.

The Six Nations Championship also includes France and Italy, but their involvement in the tournament has no influence on the result of the Triple Crown, although it means that the winners of the Triple Crown are not necessarily the winners of the Championship as a whole.

England won the first Triple Crown – although the phrase was not in use at the time – in the inaugural 1883 series of the original rugby union Home Nations Championship. The latest winners of the Triple Crown are England, who won it by beating Wales at Twickenham on 7 March, having already beaten Scotland and Ireland in the 2020 Six Nations Championship.

Traditionally the Triple Crown was an informal honour with no trophy associated with it. However a trophy now exists, which has been awarded to Triple Crown winners since 2006.


The origins of the name Triple Crown are uncertain. The concept dates to the original Home Nations Championship, predecessor of the Six Nations Championship, when the competition only involved England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Like the modern Grand Slam, the Triple Crown was an informal honour to a team that won the Championship with straight victories.

The first use cited in the Oxford English Dictionary is from Whitaker's Almanack, 1900 (referring to the 1899 tournament): "In their last match at Cardiff against Wales, Ireland won by a try to nothing, securing the triple crown with three straight victories as in 1894." The Irish victory in 1894 was reported as a Triple Crown by The Irish Times at the time and is possibly the first time the phrase was seen in print.[1]

The phrase Triple Crown is also used in a number of other sports.

Trophy history[edit]

Triple Crown Trophies

Until 2006, no actual trophy was awarded to the winner of the Triple Crown, hence it was sometimes referred to as the "invisible cup". Dave Merrington, a retired miner from South Hetton, County Durham, fashioned an aspiring trophy in 1975 from a lump of coal hewn from the Haig Colliery in Cumbria. This has a crown sitting on a four-sided base on which are represented a rose, a shamrock, a thistle and the Prince of Wales feathers. It is kept in the Museum of Rugby at Twickenham.

For the 2006 Six Nations, Barry Hooper, Head of External Communications at the Royal Bank of Scotland (the primary sponsor of the competition) commissioned Edinburgh and London based Hamilton & Inches to design and create a dedicated Triple Crown Trophy. This has been awarded to Triple Crown winning sides since 2006. It has been won four times by Ireland, three times by Wales and three times by England.


There has been a Triple Crown winner in 68 of the 124 competitions held from 1883 through to 2020. (12 competitions were cancelled due to the two World Wars.)

Only two teams have achieved the Triple Crown in four consecutive years: Wales (1976–1979) and England (1995–1998). No other teams have won the triple crown more than twice in a row.

Unlike the Grand Slam, the Triple Crown winners are not necessarily the tournament winners, since France or Italy – or even another of the home nations – could outperform them within the Championship as a whole. To date, the Triple Crown winners who failed to win the Championship are Wales in 1977, England in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2014, and Ireland in 2004, 2006 and 2007. The champions were France on each occasion, apart from 2014 when Ireland were champions, the first instance of a team winning the Triple Crown but losing the overall title to another team eligible for it.

Triple Crown winners who succeeded only in sharing the Championship were England in 1954 (lost to France, shared the title with France and Wales) and 1960 (drew with France and shared the title with them), and Wales in 1988 (lost to France and shared the title with them).

The following table shows the number of Triple Crown wins by each country, and the years in which they were achieved.

 England 26 1883, 1884, 1892, 1913, 1914, 1921, 1923, 1924, 1928, 1934, 1937, 1954, 1957, 1960, 1980, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2014, 2016, 2020
 Wales 21 1893, 1900, 1902, 1905, 1908, 1909, 1911, 1950, 1952, 1965, 1969, 1971, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1988, 2005, 2008, 2012, 2019
 Ireland 11 1894, 1899, 1948, 1949, 1982, 1985, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2018
 Scotland 10 1891, 1895, 1901, 1903, 1907, 1925, 1933, 1938, 1984, 1990

The following table shows Triple Crown winners chronologically.

Year Team Notes
Home Nations Championship
1883  England [a]
1884  England [a]
1891  Scotland [a]
1892  England [a]
1893  Wales [a]
1894  Ireland [a]
1895  Scotland [a]
1899  Ireland [a]
1900  Wales [a]
1901  Scotland [a]
1902  Wales [a]
1903  Scotland [a]
1905  Wales [a]
1907  Scotland [a]
1908  Wales [a]
1909  Wales [a]
Five Nations Championship
1911  Wales [b]
1913  England [b]
1914  England [b]
1915–19 Not held due to World War I
1921  England [b]
1923  England [b]
1924  England [b]
1925  Scotland [b]
1928  England [b]
Home Nations Championship
1933  Scotland [a]
1934  England [a]
1937  England [a]
1938  Scotland [a]
1940–46 Not held due to World War II
Five Nations Championship
1948  Ireland [b]
1949  Ireland [a]
1950  Wales [b]
1952  Wales [b]
1954  England [c]
1957  England [b]
1960  England [c]
1965  Wales [a]
1969  Wales [a]
1971  Wales [b]
1976  Wales [b]
1977  Wales [d]
1978  Wales [b]
1979  Wales [a]
1980  England [b]
1982  Ireland [a]
1984  Scotland [b]
1985  Ireland [a]
1988  Wales [c]
1990  Scotland [b]
1991  England [b]
1992  England [b]
1995  England [b]
1996  England [a]
1997  England [d]
1998  England [d]
Six Nations Championship
2002  England [d]
2003  England [b]
2004  Ireland [d]
2005  Wales [b]
2006  Ireland [e]
2007  Ireland [e]
2008  Wales [b]
2009  Ireland [b]
2012  Wales [b]
2014  England [f]
2016  England [b]
2018  Ireland [b]
2019  Wales [b]
2020  England [a]
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab Won the Championship outright that year with the Triple Crown.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac Won the Grand Slam that year with the Triple Crown.
  3. ^ a b c Shared the Championship that year despite winning the Triple Crown.
  4. ^ a b c d e France won the Grand Slam that year.
  5. ^ a b France won the Championship that year.
  6. ^ Ireland won the Championship that year.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Torpey, Michael (March 2010). "First Triple Crown win". The Clare Champion. Retrieved 25 February 2013.

External links[edit]