With just over a week until the 6 Nations kicks-off and rivalries commence between the Northern Hemisphere’s top sides, here at Lovell Rugby our own team cast an eye over the proceedings.
Rather than simply focusing on the credentials of each team and weighing up their silverware chances, we thought we would do things a little differently this season. Looking back over previous tournaments and through the record books, we hope to illustrate just why many consider the 6 Nations the greatest international rugby competition outside of the Rugby World Cup.
Let’s briefly start at the beginning in 1883 and with the Home Nations as it was then called. Just as the name suggests, the inaugural tournament comprised of England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland and ran until 1909 when it became the 5 Nations from 1910 – 1931 and France joined the competition. Having reverted back to the Home Nations between 1932 – 1939, due to France’s omission on professional grounds when the game was still very much amateur, the re-established 5 Nations began in 1940 and successfully ran until 1999 before the current guise of the 6 Nations as we know today.
Over the course of six decades England emerged as statistically the top side in the 5 Nations, claiming 17 titles along with 11 Grand Slams and 16 Triple Crowns. The turn of the Millennium and the creation of the 6 Nations saw the Red Rose continue to dominate but their final Grand Slam to date came in 2003, the same year they also famously lifted the Rugby World Cup.
To date it is currently France who have been the most successful 6 Nations side, lifting the trophy on five occasions and several Grand Slams to boast of. Now has come the turn of the dragons as Wales seek to repeat the glory years of the late 60s and 70s and become the first side to win three outright consecutive titles in the history of the competition. To add to the intensity of the 2014 competition both England and Wales are currently tied on 26 overall tournament titles, so come March 15th then supreme bragging rights are up for grabs.
Of course the 6 Nations is nothing without the players themselves and leading the way is Ireland’s Ronan O’Gara with a total of 557 points and 63 appearances in total prior to this years competition. Staying with the Irish and even though the legend that is Brian O’Driscoll is marking the end of his 6 Nations career, he still tops the try scoring chart with 26 although he will have to go some way to equal the feat of Scotland’s George Lindsay who holds the record for crossing the line five times in one match back in 1887. Jonny Wilkinson still holds the record for the most points in one match with 35 against Italy in 2001, a game which also saw the most points scored by a team as England put 80 past the Azzurri.
Of more recent note and in 2013 Wales showed off their mean defensive streak by going a record 358 minutes (almost 6 hours) without conceding a try. It’s little wonder that with that kind of form they went on to retain the 6 Nations title and are favourites to do so again in 2014.
Throughout the 2013 6 Nations tournament a total of 1,042,965 fans took in the action, which averages out to 69,531 per game. For those with a real thirst for slightly obscure facts then you may be surprised to also discover that the 6 Nations trophy has fifteen sides to it, representing each player whilst the three handles represent the officials.
So with all these facts and statistics at your disposal, how do you think the 2014 6 Nations table will finish up? Can Wales claim a hat-trick of titles? Will England claim a long overdue Grand Slam or will Ireland show the sort of form that almost defeated the mighty All Blacks in the autumn?
If you think you can predict the final standings in the 6 Nations then why not enter our Lovell Rugby Twitter competition. Guess correctly and you could be in with a chance of winning a 6 Nations rugby shirt of your choice along with a goodie bag. The competition runs until 12 noon on Saturday 1st February, with one lucky winner announced on Monday 17th March.