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The Six Nations Championship is an annual men’s rugby competition featuring six countries: England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, and Wales. This competition comes on the heels of the Home Nations Championship, which featured the four countries which comprise the Home Nations: England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, and was the first-ever international rugby union tournament when it was first staged in 1883. After France joined the group in 1910, the name was changed to the Five Nations Championship and became the current Six Nations Championship after the quintet became a sextet with the arrival of Italy in 2000.
The Six Nations Championship commences on the first weekend each February and concludes with “Super Saturday” on either the second or third Saturday in March. 15 games in total are played (with each team playing each other once). Initially, two points were given for a win, one for a draw and zero were granted for a loss until the system was modified in 2016.
In November 2016, the Six Nations Champions Committee decided to change the scoring system to emulate that of other rugby tournaments: zero points for a loss, two points for a draw, four points for a win, one point for scoring four or more tries in a match, and one point for losing by seven points or fewer. The only difference at the Six Nations Championship is that a “Grand Slam” winner (a team who wins all their games at the tournament) will get an additional three points to make sure they finish top of the table.
Two other unique aspects of the Six Nations Championship are the concept of the “Triple Crown” and the “Wooden Spoon”. The Triple Crown is a special trophy that can only go to the Home Nations (England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales) when any of those nations wins all three of their matches against their rival countries. Meanwhile, the Wooden Spoon is a dubious honor given to the team who finishes bottom of the table (although no actual trophy is given to that unfortunate side).
A team that loses all of their games at the tournament is a team that has been “whitewashed” – and unfortunately, Italy is the team that has suffered the unpleasant honor of the most Wooden Spoons in the current Six Nations Championship era.
The main trophy that the teams compete for at the Six Nations Championship is the Championship Trophy, with England, Ireland, France, and Wales all lifting the trophy on multiple occasions. In addition, there are other trophies a team can win. Some of these dates back to the days of the Home Nations Championship or before the Six Nations Championship came into existence, namely the Calcutta Cup (contested between England and Scotland, and was created in 1879), the Centenary Quaich (contested between Ireland and Scotland), and the Millennium Trophy (contested between England and Ireland).
Others, including the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy (contested between France and Italy), the Auld Alliance Trophy (contested between France and Scotland), and the Doddie Weir Cup (contested between Wales and Scotland) arrived after the creation of the Six Nations Championship.
In the USA, fans can readily follow the Six Nations Championship thanks to both English and French language TV coverage. Live-streaming and on-demand access are also available throughout the course of the tournament for supporters. Viewers in the UK, namely in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland also have a variety of choices, including Welsh-language broadcasts both on TV and on-demand.
TV broadcasts, online streaming, and on-demand access are also all available to viewers in France and Italy, as well as in non-participating countries such as Australia and New Zealand.