Rugby Union’s Six Nations – How Do The Teams Compare & Who Wins?

By Ian John
February 1, 2023

Rugby fans will have this weekend earmarked in their diaries because it is when the Six Nations annual rugby tournament gets underway!

Six of Europe’s top rugby nations collide in their annual five-week battle to decide who is the best team on the continent at present and in a Rugby World Cup year, winning this tournament would be a massive boost for any team heading into this showpiece event in France in the autumn.

Before then though, we have five weeks of brilliant, brutal and at times, bamboozling rugby awaiting us as each of the teams plays each other once to decide who comes out on top.

If you are looking for a reliable bookmaker that offers extensive Six Nations betting on all games, as well as coverage of all the too Rugby action week in, week out, then bet365 Sport is a great place to start as its Six Nations coverage is second to none.

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Let’s begin with a look at the history of this famous tournament before we focus in on what to expect from the 2023 Six Nations in a bit more detail.

The Six Nations History

As strange as it may seem, the Six Nations actually began life back in 1883 as the Four Nations, with just England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland competing in these events between 1883 and 1909.

However, by 1910, the joint Rugby Unions in the UK and Ireland agreed to expand the tournament to include France, where Rugby Union was enjoying a huge degree of popularity at the time.

However, in 1931, France dropped out of the competition, doing so until 1939, when it once again became known as the Five Nations.

Following World War II, the tournament was revived in 1947 and remained the Five Nations through until 1999.

By then, Italy had started to emerge as a world ranked team, reaching several World Cup Finals competitions and in 1999, the tournament expanded to its current Six Nations format.

Appearances In Six Nations & Tournament Wins

Only three nations, Wales, Scotland and Ireland have appeared in every Six Nations tournament, racking up 128 tournament appearances. England have 126, with France 93 and Italy have made 23 appearances in the event.

However, when it comes to victories, things are much closer as the table below shows;

  • England – 39 Wins (29 individual, 10 shared)
  • Wales – 39 Wins (28 individual, 11 shared)
  • France – 26 Wins (17 individual, 8 shared)
  • Ireland – 22 Wins (14 individual, 8 shared)
  • Scotland – 22 Wins (14 individual, 8 shared)
  • Italy – 0 Wins

In terms of Grand Slam victories (where a team wins all three/four/five games, England lead the way with 13, Wales have 12, France have 9 and Scotland and Ireland have 3 Grand Slams each.

The four original nations also compete for the Triple Crown, which is a win over each of the other three original nations. England have 26 Triple Crown wins to Wales 22, Ireland have 11 and Scotland 10.

Ireland hold the record for finishing bottom in the tournament earning the wooden spoon 25 times, but Italy have done so on 17 occasions, coming from just 23 tournaments.

Current Rugby Union World Rankings

After the Autumn Internationals last year, the current World Rankings see the Six Nations teams ranked as follows:

  • Ireland – 1st
  • France – 2nd
  • England – 5th
  • Scotland – 7th
  • Wales – 9th
  • Italy – 12th

The 2023 Six Nations Schedule

The five Six Nations dates will take place over a seven-week period starting on the 5th & 6th February and concluding with the final set of games on Super Saturday, which is the 19th March.

If any matches are Rivalry games with their own trophy up for grabs as well as Six Nations points, then the trophy available to be won is shown after the fixture. Each week of the Six Nations at least one of these trophies is up for grabs.

Week 1 – 4th & 5th February

  • Wales v Ireland (2.15pm)
  • England v Scotland (4.45pm) – The Calcutta Cup
  • Italy v France (3pm – Sun) – The Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy

Week 2 – 11th & 12th February

  • Ireland v France (2.15pm)
  • Scotland v Wales (4.45pm) – Doddie Weir Cup
  • England v Italy (3pm – Sun)

Week 3 – 25th & 26th February

  • Italy v Ireland (2.15pm)
  • Wales v England (4.45pm)
  • France v Scotland (3pm – Sun) – The Auld Alliance Trophy

Week 4 – 11th & 12th March

  • Italy v Wales (2.15pm)
  • England v France (4.45pm)
  • Scotland v Ireland (3.00pm – Sun) – The Centenary Quaich

Super Saturday – 18th March

  • Scotland v Italy (12.30pm)
  • France v Wales (2.45pm)
  • Ireland v England (5pm) – The Millennium Trophy

How Teams Are Awarded Six Nations Points

The Points system for the Six Nations is slightly unusual as bonus points can be won by teams scoring four or more points in a match, or by losing by seven points or fewer.

Additionally, more bonus points are awarded if a team wins the Grand Slam with that team receiving three bonus points.

Here’s how the points are allocated in the Six Nations:

  • 4 Points for a Win
  • 2 Points for a Draw
  • 0 Points for a Loss
  • 1 Point if a team scores 4 or more tries (regardless of if they win or lose)
  • 1 Point if a team loses a match by 7 points or fewer.
  • 3 Points if a team wins the Grand Slam.

In effect, the 3 additional points for a Grand Slam ensures that if a team does do the Grand Slam, then they cannot be overtaken by a team that loses one game, but who accrues enough bonus points to overtake them in the table.

Latest Outright Betting For The 2023 Six Nations

Ahead of the first weekend of games in the Six Nations, bet365 Sport has the current odds for each of the six teams to win the tournament outright:

  • Ireland – 13/10 favourites
  • France – 15/8
  • England – 4/1
  • Wales – 10/1
  • Scotland – 18/1
  • Italy – 500/1

In addition, Ireland are 3/1 to complete the Grand Slam, while France are 4/1 to do likewise, while England are 8/1 to win all five of their games.

In terms of the Triple Crown, Ireland are 5/4 to claim the honour, with England 5/1, Wales 11/1 and Scotland 18/1. The odds on nobody winning the Triple Crown are 7/4 and after how tight things were last year, that does look like a tempting bet.

For me, Ireland anf France are the outstanding teams in this tournament and I think the fact Ireland take on France at home in Round 2, may be the decisive game in ensuring they win the tournament and also land the Grand Slam and Triple Crown.

Tune in Saturday afternoon to catch the start of the action as Wales take on Ireland in the opening game of the tournament!

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