Rugby’s most prestigious championship, the NatWest-sponsored Six Nations 2018, is taking place over seven weekends throughout this month and into March, culminating with ‘Super Saturday’ on 17th March. England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France and Italy are competing for glory in the event, which is rivalled only by the World Cup.
Teams have been competing each year for the trophy in an event originally called the Home Nations Championship in 1883. The championship has blossomed over the years and expanded into its current format in 2000 when the Five Nations were joined by Italy.
When the event began in 1883, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales competed, with England and Scotland initially dominating, until Wales won four titles between 1905 and 1909. The Home Nations ended in 1939 when Wales and Scotland had won 11 titles each.
The championship didn’t take place during World War II, resuming in 1947, when it became known as the Five Nations, having been joined by France. During the 1960s and ’70s, France dominated, winning eight titles. The event was rebranded again in 2000 into the format that we know today, the Six Nations, when Italy began competing.
England and France have dominated in the 21st century, but Wales has emerged as a trophy winner again, after triumphing in back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013. England won the 2017 title and will be hoping to repeat their victory this year.
Games are played across Europe, with Stade de France, Twickenham, the Aviva Stadium, Stadio Olimpico and the Millennium Stadium hosting matches.
Apart from the grand prize, the Six Nations Championship, there are other titles to be won along the way, such as the Grand Slam, which means winning the championship without dropping a point. Wales have managed this three times in the modern era.
The Triple Crown, a homage to the Home Nations, involves England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, who are aiming to win all the home nations matches to secure the trophy. In addition to the Grand Slam and Triple Crown, other trophies are also contested.
These include the Calcutta Cup, when England and Scotland play each other, the Millennium Trophy between Ireland and England, the Centenary Quaich between Scotland and Ireland and the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy between France and Italy.
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