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All Six Nations fans want nothing more than to see their team beat all-comers across the tournament and walk away with the Grand Slam – the title given to the side who wins all of their matches across one six nations competition. However, for the supporters of England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland, there is another title up for grabs: the Six Nations Triple Crown – given to the team who beats all of the other home nations across the tournament. Ahead of the 2023 tournament, there had been a Triple Crown winner in 70 of the 126 competitions with Ireland the most recent team to win it in 2022.
History & The Trophy
The Triple Crown in Six Nations has been something for the home nations to target since 1883 although it was known as the ‘invisible trophy’ in some quarters as there was no crown or trophy awarded to the winners. However, this all changed in 2006 when the title sponsor of the tournament, Royal Bank of Scotland, commissioned the trophy to be made. Since this edition of the Six Nations, all of the home nations, with the exception of Scotland, have got their hands physically on the trophy with Ireland the most successful, winning it five times.
But even when there was no trophy to be won, the title of winning the Six Nations Triple Crown was something well worth targeting at the start of a campaign or even something of a consolation prize if France had already secured the Six Nations overall. Let’s take a closer look at the fortunes of England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland and see how many times, and when they most recently, won the Triple Crown in Six Nations.
England have won the Triple Crown four times since the trophy was commissioned and 26 times overall. They were the inaugural winners in 1883 and went on to defend it the following year. England’s most dominant Triple Crown period was in the final decade of the Five Nations, the 1990s. They won it in 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998 but then not again until 2002. Since the turn of the century, England have won the Triple Crown five times, the second most of the home nations.
Although Ireland have got their hands on the physical trophy the most, they have only won the Triple Crown on 12 occasions. They first won it in 1894 and did so again five years later but then had to wait until 1948 to get their third. Their fourth came only 12 months later before another long drought until 1982. However, since 2000, and the Five Nations turning into the Six Nations, Ireland have been the strongest side in terms of the Six Nations Triple Crown. From 2004 to 2009 they were dominant and didn’t win the Triple Crown only in 2005 and 2008.
With 22 Triple Crowns under their belt, Wales are the second most successful team behind England in terms of Triple Crown titles. They have won it five times from 2000 onwards and won it two years out of three in 2019 and 2021. Wales’ most dominant period against the other home nations was in the 1970s when they won the title four years in a row from 1976 to 1979. In fact, they enjoyed seven Triple Crowns from 1965 to 1979.
With no Six Nations title since 1999, it is perhaps not a great surprise that Scotland are the only home nation to not get their hands on the physical trophy. You have to go back to 1990 to find the last time that they beat England, Ireland and Wales in the same campaign. Since then, 22 other home nations have won the Triple Crown. Scotland have won the Triple Crown only 10 times in total with half of those triumphs coming in the years up to 1907.
Overall Triple Crown Winners
With Scottish independence a constant debate in British politics, there is even more pride taken in victories over home nations. Not always, but in almost all cases, winning the Triple Crown is a shortcut to winning the Six Nations title overall.
After Round 1 of the 2023 Six Nations Championship, England and Wales are already unable to secure another Triple Crown title after suffering home defeats. Both Scotland and Ireland enjoyed away wins and, right now, the dream of a first Triple Crown since 1990 for Scotland is still on. After all, England won the Triple Crown in 2020, Wales in 2021 and Ireland in 2022… surely it’s time for Scotland to complete the set?