The first Saturday in February is a day all rugby union fans look forward to as it marks the beginning of the annual Six Nations tournament.
Usually concluding on the second or third Saturday in March, known as 'Super Saturday', the tournament sees England, France, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and Italy face off in a round-robin format.
The Six Nations was first played between the current competing countries in 2000. However, the tournament has been held annually since 1883.
Back then, it was known as the Home Nations Championship and featured England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
It was then expanded to the Five Nations with the addition of France in 1910. Italy were next included from 2000, famously winning their historic first match 32-20 against Scotland in Rome.
After five rounds, the team with the most points in the table wins the Championship. However, there are also several other awards embedded in the event.
For the Home Nations – England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland – the 'Triple Crown' is available for any team that wins all three fixtures against their neighbours.
Doing so will also help a country achieve the holy grail of European international rugby by completing a clean sweep of five wins, known as a 'Grand Slam'.
There is also the 'Calcutta Cup', which is played for annually by England and Scotland amongst the other mini-competitions within competitions, while the Wooden Spoon is awarded to the team that finishes bottom of the standings.
England have historically been the most successful country in the competition, winning the tournament in its various guises 29 times. That is once more than nearest rivals Wales.
Their 13 Grand Slams is also one more than the Welsh. England's most recent Grand Slam came in 2016, with Wales last completing a clean sweep in 2019.
Conversely, Scotland have been awarded the most Wooden Spoons with 24. However, Italy's tally of 16 in 22 tournament appearances suggests they will soon take over that mantle.
Related Six Nations News
The 2021 Six Nations was another dramatic contest, and it was Wales who came out on top after winning four of their matches.
Wayne Pivac's side had beaten only Italy in 2020 but responded to triumph in their opening quartet of outings before narrowly missing out in their final match, going down 32-30 in France.
Les Bleus could have taken the title but lost 27-23 to Scotland in their rescheduled round three contest, which was played a week later.
The 23rd edition of the Six Nations will begin on Saturday 5th February, with the opening match featuring holders Wales taking on Ireland in Dublin.
Fixtures will then be played on the weekends of 12th February, 26th February, 12th March and 19th March, the latter of which will see all three games played on the Saturday.
The opening three weekends will feature two games on Saturdays and one on Sunday, while the penultimate round sees a match on Friday evening, before two on Saturday.
All six countries will host games in their respective capitals. England will play their home matches on the outskirts of London at Twickenham, while Scotland's Edinburgh base is Murrayfield. Wales' home ground is the Principality Stadium in Cardiff and Dublin's Aviva Stadium will host Ireland's matches.
Paris' majestic Parc des Princes, situated in the suburb of Saint-Denis, will be the scene for France's home matches, including a potential final night showdown with England, while Italy's home is Rome's Stadio Olimpico.
Quite simply, all of them. The Six Nations is a free-to-air event in the UK, meaning it is shown on terrestrial television.
The 2022 tournament will mark the first year of the four-year agreement signed in May 2021 to ensure the coverage remains shared by the BBC and ITV.
As part of the deal, ITV will show all England, Ireland, France and Italy's Six Nations home games. On the other side of the agreement, the BBC will broadcast Scotland's matches at Murrayfield and Wales' outings in Cardiff.
The opening weekend is headlined by the 127th Calcutta Cup match as England travel to Edinburgh to take on Scotland on 5th February.
On the second weekend, France host Ireland on 12th February, before after a fortnight off, Wales travel to Twickenham to face England on 26th February.
The penultimate round is highlighted by France's trip to Wales on 11th March, before Les Bleus host England on the final evening of 19th March Paris.
As of writing, France are the 11/8 favourites to win the Six Nations, having last done so in 2010, with 2020 winners England 11/4. Ireland are 7/2, while reigning champions Wales are 7/1.
Despite winning three games in 2021, Scotland are fifth favourites at 12/1, while Italy are the massive 1000/1 outsiders to win the tournament for the first time.
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