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The Six Nations Championship 2017 proves to be unique time for Rugby Union

POSTED ON 10 MARCH 2017

Once only consisting of four nations, the Six Nations Championship continues to evolve, with its new bonus points  scoring system and Ireland posing more of a threat to England than ever before!

All the way back in 1883, the first international rugby union tournament was formed, and it was called the Home Nations Championship, consisting of all the countries from the United Kingdom – England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. The Home Nations Championship embarked on a twenty-three year hiatus as of 1909, and a year later the Five Nations Championship came to be, which now incorporated the addition of France, and lasted until its own sixteen year break spanning from 1931 to 1947. The Home Nations ceased altogether in 1939, and the Five Nations continued until 1999. As was the new millennium, in the year 2000 the Six Nations Championship was born, which now included Italy.

Sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland, the Six Nations occurs annually. To date, England hold the record for the most wins of the Home Nations, Five Nations and Six Nations alike, boasting twenty seven titles and ten shared victories on the whole. Wales, however, hold twenty-six titles, along with twelve shared victories. Both Scotland and Italy have failed to ever win the Six Nations title, although the last winner of the Five Nations was Scotland. Before this tournament started, England were favourites to win, with the odds at 4/5, having won the competition more times than anyone else and securing the title in 2016. But who’s going to be crowned the kings of Northern hemisphere rugby this year? Will it be the favourites England? They’ve certainly gotten off to a brilliant start with wins against France and Wales in their first two games. However, it’s said that Ireland could give England a serious challenge, following their defeat of the supposedly unstoppable New Zealand side in autumn. Indeed, many experts see this year’s final being between England and Ireland.

It can’t be overlooked, however, that England achieved something very special last season: the Grand Slam. In the Six Nations, the tournament is fixtured whereby each team plays each other once, and if a team manages to beat each of the five teams they play, they earn the Grand Slam. There is also the Triple Crown, which only encompasses the four teams of the UK, which likewise is awarded to any of those nations who accomplishes all three wins against their UK opponents. It’s now impossible for Ireland to achieve the Triple Crown this season, being very unlucky as they were to have lost their first game to Scotland, but a determined Irish side then went on to pulverize a struggling Italy 63 to 10 in the second round. With Ireland second favourites to win, Wales have been dubbed third favourite.

What makes this season particularly exciting is the new bonus points system which has been introduced in order to encourage and reward try scoring and more attacking play. The scoring is now much more dramatic, making the game even more competitive and entertaining than what it already is, and is ultimately a sign that rugby union is becoming increasingly mainstream.

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