The Ultimate Guide to: The Guinness 6 Nations

Be in the know with our Ultimate Guide to the Guinness 6 Nations. We'll look at the history of the tournament, all-time records, where to watch and more!

December 1, 2023

The Six Nations Championship, often simply referred to as the “6 Nations,” stands as a pinnacle of international rugby competition. With its rich history dating back over a century, this tournament has witnessed legendary clashes, produced iconic moments, and celebrated the passion and camaraderie of the Northern Hemisphere’s most fervent rugby nations. In this blog, you’ll find a history of the tournament, current player records, top moments and much more in: The Ultimate Guide to the 6 Nations.

A Glimpse into History…

Birth of the Home Nations Championship (1883-1910)

The story of the 6 Nations begins in the late 19th century when England and Wales squared off in the first international rugby match in 1883. The following year, Scotland joined the fray, and the Home Nations Championship was officially inaugurated in 1884. This early incarnation featured England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland (which at that time included players from both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland).

The Home Nations Championship was characterized by fierce rivalries, with England, Scotland, and Wales dominating the competition. Grand Slams, the term for winning all their matches in a single tournament, were a rare and cherished achievement. Ireland’s contributions were significant, but the tournament was largely the domain of the three dominant nations.

Entry of France (1910) and the Five Nations Era (1910-1999)

In 1910, France became the first team from outside the British Isles to enter the tournament, marking the beginning of the Five Nations era. The inclusion of France added a new dimension to the competition, introducing different playing styles and intensifying the rivalries.

The tournament evolved through the 20th century, witnessing periods of dominance by various nations. England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and France each enjoyed their moments of glory, contributing to the rich tapestry of the championship.

The Introduction of Italy (2000)

The dawn of the new millennium brought a significant change to the competition. In 2000, Italy joined the ranks, expanding the championship to its current form of six competing nations. While Italy initially struggled to secure victories against the well-established teams, their presence has added diversity and a new layer of competition.

Tournament Format

The tournament begins on the first weekend in February and culminates on the second or third Saturday in March. Each team plays every other team once (a total of 15 matches), with home ground advantage alternating from one year to the next. A bonus point system was first used in the 2017 Championship. The system is similar to the one used in most rugby championships (0 points for a loss, 2 for a draw, 4 for a win, 1 for scoring four or more tries in a match, and 1 for losing by 7 points or fewer). The only difference is that a team that wins all their games (a Grand Slam) are automatically awarded 3 extra points – to ensure they cannot be overtaken by a defeated team on bonus points.

Before 1994, teams equal on match points shared the championship. Since then, ties have been broken by considering the points difference (total points scored minus total points conceded) of the teams. The rules of the championship further provide that if teams tie on both match points and points difference, the team that scored the most tries wins the championship. Were this decider to be a tie, the tying teams would share the championship.


Championship Trophy – The winners of the Six 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.

A new trophy was introduced for the 2015 Championship. The new trophy was designed and crafted by Thomas Lyte silversmiths and replaces the 1993 edition, which is being retired as it represented the nations that took part in the Five Nations Championship. Ireland were the last team to win the old trophy and the first team to win the new one.

Grand Slam – A team that wins all its games wins the ‘Grand Slam’.

Triple Crown – The Triple Crown may only be won by one of the Home Nations of England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales, when one nation wins all three of their matches against the others.

The Wooden Spoon – the infamous award given to the team that finishes in last place. Since the inaugural Six Nations tournament in 2000, only England and Ireland have avoided finishing last. Italy have finished last 18 times in the Six Nations era, losing every match a record 13 times.

Tournament Records

All-Time Winners of the 6 Nations

All-Time Winners of the 6 Nations

  1. England (29)
  2. Wales (28)
  3. France (18)
  4. Ireland (15)
  5. Scotland (14)
  6. Italy (0)

Most Capped (Appearances)

Most Capped (Appearances)

  1. Sergio Parisse (Italy) – 69 Caps (2004-2019)
  2. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales) – 67 Caps (2003-2023)
  3. Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland) – 65 Caps (2000-2014)
  4. Rory Best (Ireland) – 64 Caps (2006-2019)
  5. Ronan O’Gara (Ireland) – 63 Caps (2000-2013)

Most Points Scored

Most Points Scored

  1. Johnny Sexton (Ireland) – 566
  2. Ronan O’Gara (Ireland) – 557
  3. Jonny Wilkinson (England) – 546
  4. Owen Farrell (England) – 528
  5. Stephen Jones (Wales) – 467

Top Try-Scorers

Top Try-Scorers

  1. Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland) – 26
  2. Ian Smith (Scotland) – 24
  3. George North (Wales) – 23
  4. Shane Williams (Wales) – 22
  5. Gareth Edwards (Wales) – 18

Players of the Championships (Most Wins)

  • 3 – Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland), Antoine Dupont (France)
  • 2 – Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
  • 1 – (12 Players)*

*Last English Player to win – Mike Brown (2014)

Top Moments of the Tournament

Italy’s Dream Start (2000)

The turn of the century saw Italy join the Six Nations, and their opening game was one to remember. Coming up against a strong Scottish side, the Azzurri caused an almighty upset, winning 34-20 at the Stadio Flaminio – helped with 29 points off the boot of Diego Dominguez.

Yachvili’s Try vs. England (2004)

France headed to the Stade de France looking for revenge after England had knocked them out of the ’03 World Cup. Scrumhalf Dimitri Yachvili was the catalyst, kicking 14 points and scoring a memorable try chasing his own grubber kick down the short-side – as Les Blues secured the Grand Slam.

Croke Park welcomes England (2007)

It was February 24, 2007, and tensions had been simmering for the preceding weeks about what exactly would happen when the first chords of God Save the Queen. A packed Croke Park was held in silence – showing the respect between the two revered nations – before a rousing performance of the Irish National Anthem had the stadium rocking.

O’Gara wins the Grand Slam (2009)

Staying with the Irish, a trip to the Millenium was all that stood between them and a first Grand Slam in 61 years. A tight, bruising affair went down to the wire – Ireland down 15-14 with two minutes left. Enter flyhalf Ronan O’Gara. The mercurial man from Munster slotted a long range dropgoal, handing Ireland a 17-15 win, and the Grand Slam.

The Welsh Wizard Williams (2010)

The last five minutes of the Wales vs Scotland game in 2010, were some of the most memorable 300 seconds in the Six Nation’s history. Trailing by 10 points late in the match, Wales mounted an incredible comeback. With scores locked at 24-all as the clock struck 80mins, Wales marched down the field and flying winger Shane Williams dotted down under the posts.

Daly Dots Down to break Welsh Hearts (2017)

As with most games between England and Wales, the 2017 clash was yet to be decided heading into the final stages. Wales were up 16-14 before a clearance kick missed touch. Two inch perfect passes from George Ford and Owen Farrell later sent the Wasps winger in to score a 75th minute match winner, ensuring England retained their 6 Nations crown.

Where to Watch the Six Nations

Twickenham Stadium (London, England)

Twickenham Stadium (London, England)

  • Built: 1907
  • Capacity: 82,000

Twickenham is the largest stadium in the Six Nations and the home of English rugby. It has a rich history and is known for its iconic atmosphere. The stadium is located in southwest London and is a historic venue with a state-of-the-art facility. Want to experience the magic of a Six Nations match at the Home of England Rugby? Our exclusive hospitality suite, The Pegasus Lounge, offers a truly authentic hospitality experience, one that is a favourite with passionate rugby fans. Middle-tier seats are located just a short walk away.

Scottish Gas Murrayfield (Edinburgh, Scotland)

Scottish Gas Murrayfield (Edinburgh, Scotland)

  • Built: 1925
  • Capacity: 67,144

Murrayfield is the home of Scottish rugby and is one of the oldest stadiums in the Six Nations. It offers a passionate and electric atmosphere, with a proud rugby heritage. Want to experience the magic of a Six Nations match at the Home of Scottish Rugby? Our exclusive hospitality suite, The Pegasus Lounge, located in the West Stand offering a high standard of food and drinks pre and post-match, and the very best en bloc seating to view all the action.

Stadio Olimpico (Rome, Italy)

Stadio Olimpico (Rome, Italy)

  • Built: 1953
  • Capacity: 72,698

Stadio Olimpico is Italy’s national stadium and is located in Rome. It is a historic venue with a rich sporting tradition. The stadium has undergone renovations over the years to meet modern standards. For the first time ever, we are taking our exclusive hospitality suite, The Pegasus Lounge, to the Eternal City for two huge weekends of rugby! With complimentary drinks, gourmet food, and fantastic seating inside the Stadio Olimpico, you’ll be treated to the very best of Italian hospitality!

Stade de France (Paris, France)

  • Built: 1998
  • Capacity: 80,000

Stade de France is the national stadium of France and is located just north of Paris. It is a modern, multi-purpose stadium that hosts various sports events and concerts. It offers excellent facilities for both players and spectators.

Aviva Stadium (Dublin, Ireland)

  • Built: 2010
  • Capacity: 51,700

Aviva Stadium is the home of Irish rugby and is situated in the heart of Dublin. It is a relatively new and stylish stadium with excellent sightlines, providing an intimate setting for rugby matches.

Principality Stadium (Cardiff, Wales)

  • Built: 1999
  • Capacity: 73,931

The Principality Stadium, formerly known as the Millennium Stadium, is the national stadium of Wales. It has a retractable roof, ensuring that matches can be played in any weather. The stadium is known for its incredible atmosphere and is at the heart of Welsh rugby culture.

Attending the Guinness 6 Nations in The Pegasus Lounge

The Pegasus Lounge is Corinthian Sports’ premier VIP experience at the best sporting events in the UK and overseas and is exclusively for guests who want a unique, high quality and memorable day packed with guest speakers, exclusive merchandise, interactive entertainment and more! Looking to experience the magic of a European rugby matchday? Corinthian Sports are offering bespoke hospitality packages to the biggest and best games for the 2023/24 Guinness 6 Nations. With our exclusive suite at all Twickenham, Scottish Gas Murrayfield and Stadio Olimpico fixtures, don’t miss your chance at an exceptional rugby hospitality matchday.

Packages include:

  • Top Guest Speakers – Rub shoulders with legends of the game like Toby Flood, Jason Leonard, Alistair Hargreaves, Ryan Wilson and many more!
  • Gourmet Dining and Drinks – Guests are treated to gourmet food served throughout, a free flowing bar, Champagne reception, afternoon tea and snacks!
  • The Best Seats in the House – Our VIP lounges come with the best seats in the house for unbeatable views of the action! Middle-tier at Twickenham, West Stand at Murrayfield, Halfway Line at the Stadio Olimpico – No other provider offers more
  • Dedicated VIP Hosts – Our staff will be on hand to take care of your every need and to ensure you and your guests have an unforgettable experience

Interested in attending the 6 Nations? Book your tickets now to avoid disappointment!

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