The 6 Nations Championship

With the RBS 6 Nations Championship 2014 now underway, I thought I would write a brief history of the oldest Rugby Union tournament, in the World.

The true roots of the Six Nations Championship can be traced back to Calcutta, India, in 1872. On Christmas Day, of that year, twenty English players took on a team of twenty men representing Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The match proved to be such a success that the match was replayed the following week, And so was born the Calcutta Football Club. With the climate not really suitable for rugby and with other sports like tennis and polo arriving on the scene, the club disbanded. Withdrawing the club funds, which were in silver rupees, the members had the coins melted down and made into a cup. (The Calcutta Cup is of Indian workmanship and stands 45cm high and is engraved with three King Cobra which twist to form handles. The top is domed and has an elephant on its top.) This cup was presented to the Rugby Football Union, in 1878, with the provision that it should be played for annually, between England and Scotland. The first of these matches took place in Edinburgh, in 1879, and resulted in a draw. The following year, England became the first winners of the Calcutta Cup.

In 1882, Ireland and Wales had talks with the Rugby Football Union and the following year the Home Nations Championship came into being. With each team playing each other only once, the RFU decided that the Calcutta Cup would be made a part of the championship. They also decided that any team that won all three of its matched would win the Triple Crown. (The Triple Crown was purely a symbolic title, as there was no actual trophy to win. This changed, in 2005, when a Triple Crown Trophy was commissioned. The first winners of this trophy were Ireland, in 2006.) The Home Nations Championship continued through to 1909.

In 1910, France joined the competition and so was created the Five Nations Championship. This gave the competition a much needed boost and brought fresh blood into the tournament, in more ways than one. France would continue to play in the newly named Five Nations Championship until they left the tournament at the end of the 1931 season, when it reverted to the Home Nations Championship again. Many believe that the French were asked to leave as they were ‘too violent.’ France, however, did return in 1940 and have been part of the championship ever since.

In 1988, to celebrate Dublin’s millennial celebrations, a trophy was commissioned, that would be played for by England and Ireland. The trophy looks like a horned Viking helmet and is known as the Millennium Trophy.

In 1989, the Centenary Quaich was inaugurated as the trophy to be awarded to the winner of the Ireland and Scotland match, in the Five Nations Championship. The quaich is a silver double-handled cup.

In 2000, Italy joined the championship and, after a shaky start, have become real challengers in the Northern Hemisphere.

In 2007, another trophy was added to the competition. This is the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy and it is awarded to the winner of the France v Italy match, in the Six Nations Championship.

Any team that wins all of its Championship matches is said to have done the Grand Slam.

Any team that loses all of its Championship matches is said to have won the Wooden Spoon.

CHAMPIONSHIP

England = 26 (10 shared)

France = 17 (8 shared)

Ireland = 11 (9 shared)

Italy = 0 (0 shared)

Scotland = 14 (8 shared)

Wales = 26 (12 shared)

GRAND SLAM

England = 12

France = 9

Ireland = 2

Italy = 0

Scotland = 3

Wales = 11

TRIPLE CROWN

England = 23

Ireland = 10

Scotland = 10

Wales = 20

CALCUTTA CUP

England = 66

Scotland =39

MILLENNIUM TROPHY

England = 16

Ireland = 10

CENTENARY QUAICH

Ireland = 12

Scotland = 13

GIUSEPPE GARIBALDI TROPHY

France = 5

Italy = 2

WOODEN SPOON

England = 25

France = 18

Ireland = 36

Italy = 9

Scotland = 32

Wales = 21

 

*Information correct as of February 3, 2014.

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