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Nic Ladds 21st Jan 2010 - 22:00

History of the Six Nations

The RBS Six Nations is a yearly competition contested for by the top countries in the Northern Hemisphere with the winners of the competition being seen as the European Champions.

Prior to 2000, the competition was known and the Five Nations and featured England, France, Ireland, Scotland and Wales then at the turn of the millennium, Italy were added to make the sixth team.

The format is simple with each team playing each other once with home advantage alternating from one year to the next. The scoring system sees two points awarded for a win, one for a draw and none for a loss while unlike in a lot of other competitions, the bonus points system is not in use. Should two or more teams be equal on points after all the games are played then the winner is decided by points difference and if that still doesn't yield a winner then number of tries scored is the decider.

Should a team win all of it's game then it has won a Grand Slam and in recent years Wales managed this in 2008 while Ireland completed it last year to take the title.

Other trophies contested within the tournament include the Triple Crown which involves the home nations, (England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales) whereby if one of these sides beat all the others they win this particular accolade.

The Calcutta Cup is contested between England and Scotland, the Centenary Quaich is between Scotland and Ireland, the Millennium Trophy features Ireland and England and finally the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy is played for by France and Italy.

Over the years, England have won the most tournaments and in turn achieved the most Grand Slams although they have not won the competition since 2003 which was also their last Grand Slam.

France are top of the Six Nations all - time table since 2000 while the record number of points in a season is 229 by England in 2001 and unsurprisingly it was in this year they scored the most tries (29).

Most player records are from the recent era with Jonny Wilkinson holding the record for most points in a game (35), most in a season (89), most conversions both in a season (24) and in his career (74) but he is yet to catch Neil Jenkins' astounding record of 93 penalties in the tournament over his career while Ireland's Ronan O'Gara currently sits on 499 career points. Scotland's Ian Smith holds the record for most career tries (24) which dates back to 1933 and another Scottish player, George Lindsay still holds the record for most tries in a game (5) which has stood since 1887.

Here is a list of the winners since the competition became the Six Nations

Year Winner Grand Slam
2009 Ireland Yes
2008 Wales Yes
2007 France -
2006 France -
2005 Wales Yes
2004 France Yes
2003 England Yes
2002 France Yes
2001 England -
2000 England -

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