Six Nations,World’s Oldest Tournament

Tis the season of good rugby! The oldest and most renowned rugby championship to be contested by 6 northern hemisphere countries beginning with the 1st round matches on Saturday 5th February 2022. The 6 national teams paired off to battle it out hoping to achieve the ultimate winner’s title, Grand Slam, that is, winning all 5 matches throughout the 6 week competition.

This championship has been staged since 1883 but under different titles, the original tournament name was the Home Nations consisting of Ireland, Scotland, Wales & England then when France joined in 1910 it became the 5 Nations and finally in 2000 Italy was given a place as the sixth nation. This new millennium tournament will be the 23rd edition with all 6 nations competing. The most interesting aspect of the 6 Nations is that there are several other cups and titles to win within the main competition itself. The fixtures for the opening matches will see 2 extra cup awards up for grabs.

  • Sat. 5/2/22 – Scotland v England, winner awarded the Calcutta Cup. The oldest trophy to win in rugby, the cup is made from melted down Indian rupees from colonial times and played for since 1879.
  • Sun. 6/2/22 – France v Italy, winner awarded the Garibaldi Trophy. Introduced in 2007 to celebrate Guiseppe Garibaldi’s 200th anniversary. The Italian soldier fought to unite Italy as one country and with the French Republican Army against Prussia.

The 3rd match of the same weekend between Ireland v Wales, does not have a supplementary cup award although future matches will see Ireland v Scotland to compete for the Centenary Quaich Cup. Further matches where the teams challenge for a dedicated award are, ENG v IRE, Millenium Trophy which is fairly recent as it began in 1988. Whereas, when Scotland play France the special award for the game winner is the Auld Alliance Cup which commemorates fallen rugby playing soldiers from the World Wars of both countries and, finally, SCO v WAL game honours Doddie Weir, a Scottish rugby player suffering from motor neuron disease and his charity organisation with the Doddie Weir Cup, both cups were initiated in 2018.

There is still one more title and cup to compete for but this one is for the home nations, the Triple Crown. As mentioned earlier, the home nations are the UK teams and Ireland, the home nation that defeats all the others collects this honour and trophy. The Triple Crown award began in the original Home Nations Tournament back in the 1880s but an actual trophy for the winning team was only introduced in 2006.

The 2022 Six Nations Championship will be subject to C-19 regulations from individual countries. France, for example, has insisted that all players are vaccinated if they wish to compete. In respect of fans attending matches proof of vaccination will be required to enter stadiums. Last year, all matches were played without spectators present. There maybe crowd limitations in place as well, in Ireland outdoor gatherings are limited to 5,000 people. If you are not vaccinated a lateral flow test no more than 48 hours old will get you in to watch your chosen match.

Guinness 6 Nations Team News

  • England will be without the captain Owen Farrell for all 5 games due to an ankle injury sustained in training with his club, Saracens. However, Marcus Smith who is showing remarkable form in the Premiership will replace him. England introduce 6 new uncapped players for this campaign.
  • Wales start their 2022 6 Nations as defending 2021 champions. It will be a tough challenge as Wales are missing 11 national squad players, the injury toll has forced head coach Pivac to rethink his tactics.
  • Scotland is very much a team in form and keen to retain the Calcutta Cup by beating England in last year’s 6 Nations. Team captain, Stuart Hogg is confident that the squad is ready for what is deemed the top match of the 1st round.
  • Ireland had a miserable 2021 Six Nations and have looked to improve on this year’s performance with some new faces. Johnny Sexton is captain, with the opening match against captain Dan Biggar’s Wales is certainly going to be cracker plus a tough one for the ref.
  • France are the 2022 favourites to win the 6 Nations and Grand Slam title. Antoine Dupont, the Les Bleus scrumhalf was voted World Player of the Year, European Player of the Year and recently Rugby Union Writer’s Club’s Personality of the Year. He is just one of many talented players in the French squad and will probably be nominated team captain too.
  • Italy has taken a lot of flak on whether they are good enough to remain in the tournament. The Italians will be encouraging the young emerging players to make an impact, watch out for 21 year old Paolo Garbisi recently acquired by Montpelier RFC a top French club.
The Guinness 6 Nations Tournament is ranked as a tier 1 level competition, however, there is no promotion to the 6 Nations from tier 2 levels of which Georgia is the most prominent team winning Rugby Europe’s Championship league 13 times leading to the opinion that Georgia should replace or at least have a play off match with Italy that is the holder of the most Wooden Spoon titles. Italy has always won playing Georgia though. So, to increase standards the Rugby Europe Championship will promote 2 teams from the RE Trophy league of which Poland’s national team is in top position going into 2022. There are plenty of emerging teams aiming to attain higher levels and qualify for the RWC and the prestigious 6 Nations in the future.

If you are a fan of rugby then pit your team selection skills in the 6 Nations Fantasy Challenge, many great prizes on offer and you can form your own personal league whilst competing in the main league or join by invitation other personal leagues. As Poland is leading the RE Trophy why not test yourself against the League in the Guinness 6 Nations Fantasy Challenge?

There is no doubt that the 6 Nations is the one competition every player aspires to take part in and with the ever growing popularity of rugby as a sport this might bring changes to the 6 Nations current format.