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The Six Nations Championship (referred to as RBS 6 Nations for sponsorship reasons), known before 2000 as the Five Nations Championship, 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 winners of the Six Nations are seen as being the European Champions. The event is currently sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Ireland are the current Grand Slam title holders, for the first time since 1948, having won the competition in 2009 by beating all other teams, and winning the Triple Crown by beating England, Scotland and Wales.


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 8, 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, Scotland with 10 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 a 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 Nizzamarker (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 Nation's Championship & Triple Crown Trophies
The winners of the 6 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.

Triple Crown Trophy

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 Twickenhammarker on March 18 after a last-minute try from Shane Horgan gave Ireland a 28–24 win over England.

Ireland currently hold the Triple Crown after beating Wales 17–15 at the Millenium Stadiummarker on 21 March 2009.

Other trophies

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

Current venues

As per 2009, Six Nations matches were held in the following stadia:

Croke Park is not the normal home of Irish rugby; it is the flagship stadium of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). Ireland's traditional home, Lansdowne Roadmarker, has been unavailable since the start of 2007 due to the construction of a completely new stadium on the site of what had become an increasingly run-down structure. The all-Ireland governing body for rugby union, the Irish Rugby Football Union, reached an agreement with the GAA to allow Ireland to play their 6 Nations fixtures at Croke Park in 2007. The agreement has continued throughout the construction of the new stadium at the Lansdowne Road site, which will be known as Aviva Stadiummarker when it opens in April 2010. Ireland will play their first Six Nations matches at their new ground in 2011.

Similarly, the Stadio Flaminio may no longer be big enough, since "palla ovale" is becoming more popular in Italy. Rugby games may in future be held at football stadiums such as the Stadio Olimpicomarker in Rome or in the North where rugby is most popular. Stadio Luigi Ferrarismarker in Genoa (42,000 seats) or Stadio Ennio Tardinimarker, 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.


Although God Save the Queen is, by custom and usage, the national anthem of the whole United Kingdommarker, in many sporting events it is used only by Englandmarker; Wales and Scotland use separate anthems, which both hold unofficial national anthem status. Ireland, whose rugby team represents two jurisdictions (the Republic of Irelandmarker and Northern Irelandmarker), have a specially commissioned anthem for rugby internationals.


For 2009 results, see 2009 Six Nations Championship


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).

Home Nations 1883–1909

1883 (Triple Crown)
1884 (Triple Crown)
1885 Not completed
1886 and
1888 Not completed
1889 Not completed
1890 and
1891 (Triple Crown)
1892 (Triple Crown)
1893 (Triple Crown)
1894 Ireland (Triple Crown)
1895 (Triple Crown)
1896 Ireland
1897 Not completed
1898 Not completed
1899 Ireland (Triple Crown)
1900 (Triple Crown)
1901 (Triple Crown)
1902 (Triple Crown)
1903 (Triple Crown)
1905 (Triple Crown)
1906 and
1907 (Triple Crown)
1908 (Grand Slam)
1909 (Grand Slam)
Source: Roll of Honour at BBC

Five Nations 1910–1931

1911 (Grand Slam)
1912 and
1913 (Grand Slam)
1914 (Grand Slam)
1915–19 Not held due to World War I
1920 , and
1921 (Grand Slam)
1923 (Grand Slam)
1924 (Grand Slam)
1925 (Grand Slam)
1926 and
1927 and
1928 (Grand Slam)
Source: Roll of Honour at BBC

Home Nations 1932–1939

1932 , and
1933 (Triple Crown)
1934 (Triple Crown)
1937 (Triple Crown)
1938 (Triple Crown)
1939 , and
Source: Roll of Honour at BBC

Five Nations 1940–1999

1940–46 Not held due to World War II
1947 and
1948 (Grand Slam)
1949 (Triple Crown)
1950 (Grand Slam)
1952 (Grand Slam)
1954 (Triple Crown), and
1955 and
1957 (Grand Slam)
1960 (Triple Crown) and
1964 and
1968 (Grand Slam)
1969 (Triple Crown)
1970 and
1971 (Grand Slam)
1972 Not completed
1973 , , , and
1976 (Grand Slam)
1977 (Grand Slam) with the same fifteen players, the only time in a rugby championship
1978 (Grand Slam)
1979 (Triple Crown)
1980 (Grand Slam)
1981 (Grand Slam)
1983 and
1984 (Grand Slam)
1985 (Triple Crown)
1986 and
1987 (Grand Slam)
1988 and (Triple Crown)
1990 (Grand Slam)
1991 (Grand Slam)
1992 (Grand Slam)
1995 (Grand Slam)
1996 (Triple Crown)
1997 (Grand Slam)
1998 (Grand Slam)
Source: Roll of Honour at BBC

Six Nations 2000–present

2002 (Grand Slam)
2003 (Grand Slam)
2004 (Grand Slam)
2005 (Grand Slam)
2008 (Grand Slam)
2009 (Grand Slam)
Source: Roll of Honour at BBC

Six Nations All-Time Table (2000–2009)

Includes matches played 15 March 2009

Pld W D L PF PA PD Tries Pts Champs GS TC WS
50 36 0 14 1372 887 485 138 72 4 2 N/A 0
50 36 0 14 1309 993 316 133 72 1 1 4 0
50 33 0 17 1511 786 725 169 66 3 1 2 0
50 23 2 25 1127 1221 −94 107 48 2 2 2 1
50 14 1 35 817 1310 −493 61 29 0 0 0 2
50 6 1 43 768 1707 −939 62 13 0 0 N/A 7

Longest wait without a championship win

Team Tournaments Years Season
24 44 1910-1953
23 23 1986–2009
18 25 1939–1963
15 17 1893–1909
10 10 1995–2004
9+ 9+ 2000–present

Last Grand Slam Win

Nation W Grand Slam Season
2 2009
10 2008
8 2004
12 2003
3 1990
0 Never Achieved


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 499 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 2000–2009

The following table summarises the total number of points, and the number of tries, scored by each team in the Six Nations

- Total
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)
TOTAL 1478(165) 1129(107) 841(61) 1299(132) 1360(138) 745(60) 6852 (663)
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 745 points.


Georgia have expressed interest in joining the 6 Nations to create a 7 Nations Tournament or possibly having a promotion/relegation play-off with the last place team.

Argentina did have an interest in joining the 6 Nations but they will now join the Tri-Nations in the year 2012, possibly becoming the Quad Nations or 4 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.

See also


a. Name of the Six Nations Championship in the languages of participating countries:



  1. Godwin (1984), pg 1. First ever Home Nations International Championship played in 1883, no other Northern Hemisphere team played a recognised international match until France faced New Zealand in 1906
  4. Although only a Home Nations Championship, Wales also beat France in both 1908 and 1909 and are regarded therefore as Grand Slam winners for both years.
  5. Asterisk * indicates won on points difference

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