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Six Nations records: Most titles, longest winning streak and more

The dawn of a new millennium brought with it a new look to European rugby as the Five Nations became Six with the introduction of Italy to the Championship.

The arrival of the Azzurri opened a new chapter in the tournament’s history and reset the dial for its vast bank of stats and records.

This is the 25th year of the Six Nations, all teams have played 120 matches, and the total of 360 games played have thrown up a vast range of outcomes.

Most titles

England lead the way with seven Six Nations Championship titles to their names, although their tally of two Grand Slams is one less than Ireland and two less than France and Wales have managed.

France and Wales have topped the table six times each and Ireland on five occasions, while Scotland and Italy have yet to lift the trophy.

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Most Wooden Spoons

The Wooden Spoon is the expression used for the team who finish bottom, and the reference dates back to the 1890s.

As the newest additions to the top tier, Italy have ended up in bottom spot in 18 of the 24 tournaments played, while Scotland have ended up at the foot of the table four times, and France and Wales once each.

Most wins

There’s a bunched finish at the top but Ireland boast the most Six Nations match victories with 81 wins in 120 matches, just ahead of England with 79 and France with 77.

Interestingly Ireland’s tally of wins has delivered five titles while Wales, who have won 64 games for a modest percentage of 53 per cent compared to Ireland’s 68, still boast more titles and Grand Slams.

Most defeats

Again it’s Italy at the bottom of the class - the Azzurri have lost 106 of their 120 matches, leaving them well adrift of next-worst Scotland, who have suffered 78 defeats.

Longest winning streak

England, Ireland, Wales and France have all won back-to-back titles but no team have ever managed back-to-back Grand Slams, highlighting the ultra-competitive nature of the tournament.

Having missed out on the title on points difference in 2015, England then won a Grand Slam in 2016 and topped the table again the following year despite losing their final fixture to Ireland. That gave them a record of 11 consecutive match wins in the tournament stretching over three seasons.

Biggest win and highest-scoring match

Italy made their first trip to Twickenham in 2001 and were blown away 80-23. England’s points total and winning margin in that fixture remain unbeaten to this day, while the total of 103 points in the game also still stands as a record.

Fly-half Jonny Wilkinson scored 35 of England’s 80 points, again an individual record.

Most appearances

Italy feature in most of the negative Six Nations records so it’s good to give some plaudits to a true Azzurri great - back-row forward Sergio Parisse has plates in 69 Six Nations matches, starting every one, in a career that stretched from 2004 to 2019.

Wales legend Alun Wyn Jones is next with 67, two of which came from the bench, while Ireland centre Brian O’Driscoll played 65 times, again starting every game.

Most tries

Given the number of games he played it’s perhaps no surprise that O’Driscoll is the leading tryscorer in the Six Nations with a total of 26.

Next up is George North with 23, and he has the opportunity to overhaul O’Driscoll as he again lines up in the Wales squad with 118 caps to his name.

Most points

This will be the first Six Nations tournament since 2009 not to feature Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton, who announced his retirement from the game after the Rugby World Cup last autumn.

Unsurprisingly in such a long career that brought 118 Ireland caps, Sexton tops the charts for points scored in the Six Nations with 566.

There is only one active player in the top 10; England’s Owen Farrell has 528 points but is sitting out the tournament this year.

Most tries in one match

England’s record 80-23 win over Italy in 2001 featured another record as a total of 12 tries were scored in the match. That tally was equalled when England hosted France in 2015 - a crazy match that England had to win by 26 points for the title. They fell just short in a 55-35 rollercoaster.

That total of 12 tries matched an overall tournament record that stretched back more than a century, to the 1887 Home Nations Championship.

In February that year Scotland ran in 12 tries against Wales, although that was worth a total of zero points as a try in those days only entitled you to attempt to kick a goal, a score known now as a conversion. Only four of the 12 attempts were landed, but Scotland’s 4-0 victory helped steer them to the title.

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