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Halsbury's Guide to the Six Nations

Article posted on: February 03, 2017

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The Six Nations starts this weekend and we're just a little bit excited here at Halsbury HQ. If you're not that familiar with the tournament, confused about the new bonus points system, or have a friend or family member that just doesn't get it, then this handy guide is for you.  

What is the Six Nations?

The Six Nations Championship is an annual rugby union tournament contested by national teams from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France and Italy.

When does it take place?

The tournament takes place over seven weekends during February and March (and sometimes April). 

Where are the games played?

Home advantage alternates from year to year. So, for example, England vs. Ireland will be played at Twickenham one year, and Dublin the next (and then Twickenham, and then Dublin and so on…).  

Currently, the Six Nations matches are held at:

•Twickenham Stadium (England)

•Aviva Stadium (Ireland)

•Murrayfield Stadium (Scotland)

•Principality Stadium (Wales)

•Stade de France (France)

•Stadio Olimpico (Italy)

How does it work? 

Each team plays the other five teams once. The championship winner is the team that has the most points at the end of the tournament. 

And how does the scoring work?

We’re glad you asked. Prior to this year (2017), the scoring system was very simple – two points for a win, one for a draw and none for a loss. 

However, this year the bonus points system will be trialled for the first time in the Six Nations. And here’s how that works: 

  • 4 match points for a win
    • A bonus point will be awarded if the winning team also scores four or more tries
  • 0 match points for a loss
    • A bonus point will be awarded if the losing team scores four or more tries, or loses by less than seven points
  • 2 match points for a draw
    • A bonus point will be awarded if either team scores four or more tries
  • 3 bonus points for a ‘Grand Slam’

What’s a ‘Grand Slam’?

A team is said to have won a ‘Grand Slam’ if they win all five of their matches. 

What’s this about a wooden spoon?

The team that finishes the tournament with the least number of points is said to have won the ‘wooden spoon’. This is just figurative though, they’re not actually awarded a wooden spoon!

What’s the ‘Triple Crown’?

If one of the Home Nations (i.e. England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales) beat all of the other three Home Nations, they win the Triple Crown. A trophy has been awarded for this achievement since 2006, but has been a feature of the championship for much longer than this. 

Are there any other trophies up for grabs?

The winners of the Six Nations are presented with the Championship Trophy. But there are a number of other trophies to play for, and these are:

•Calcutta Cup – presented to the winner of England vs. Scotland

•Centenary Quaich – presented to the winner of Scotland vs. Ireland

•Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy – presented to the winner of Italy vs. France

•Millennium Trophy – presented to the winner of England vs. Ireland

How long’s it been going?

The first Home International Championship was contested by England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales in 1883. 

France joined in 1910, and the tournament became known as the Five Nations. It was suspended during both WW1 and WW2. And France was kicked out from 1931 until 1939, when it was once again known as the ‘Home Nations’. 

The Five Nations returned in 1947, with France back in, and became the Six Nations in 2000. 

I can’t wait!

Us neither, we love the Six Nations here at Halsbury HQ! If your students are also big fans, why not make your next rugby tour one to EnglandWales, Ireland, France or Italy, where your team can enjoy professional coaching, or pitting their skills against local opposition

Need more info? Have any questions? Please don’t hesitate to contact us!

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