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Six Nations: History, key dates and odds

The first Saturday in February is always a special day in the diaries of rugby union fans as it marks the beginning of the annual Six Nations tournament.

Usually the Six Nations comes to a close 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.

WhatSix Nations 2023
WhereTwickenham, Stade de France, Aviva Stadium, Stadio Olimpico, Murrayfield, Millennium Stadium
WhenSaturday 4th February - Saturday 18th March
How to watchBBC and ITV
OddsIreland 11/8, France 6/4, England 9/2, Wales 14/1, Scotland 20/1, Italy 500/1

History of the Six Nations

The Six Nations was first played between the current competing countries in 2000, however, the tournament has been held annually since 1883. It was then known as the Home Nations Championship and featured England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

It expanded into the Five Nations with the addition of France in 1910. Italy were next to be included in 2000, famously winning their historic first match 32-20 against Scotland in Rome.

How does the Six Nations work?

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 the competition, while the Wooden Spoon is awarded to the team that finishes bottom of the standings.

Who are the Six Nations' most successful team?

England are the most successful country to have competed in the competition, winning the tournament in its various guises outright on 29 occasions. They have one more victory than nearest rivals Wales, while they have won 13 Grand Slams to Wales' 12.

England's last Grand Slam success came in 2016, while Wales achieved the same feat three years later.

Conversely, Ireland have been awarded the most Wooden Spoons with 25. However, Italy's tally of 17 in 22 tournament appearances suggests they will soon take over that mantle.

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Who won the Six Nations in 2022?

The 2022 Six Nations was another thrilling tournament and it was France who finished on top, while they completed the Grand Slam at the same time.

France's double success was the first time they achieved that feat since 2010, with Fabien Galthie guiding his team to a famous 25-13 victory over England at the Stade de France.

Ireland finished as runners-up, winning the Triple Crown for the sixth time in the Six Nations era, while Italy won just one of their matches, as they picked up yet another wooden spoon in the Six Nations.

When is the Six Nations 2023?

The opening game of the Six Nations 2023 will take place on Saturday 4th February, with Wales hosting Ireland.

Fixtures will then be played on the weekends of 11th February, 25th February, 11th March and 18th March, the last of which will see all three games played on the Saturday.

The opening four weekends will feature two games on Saturday and one on Sunday, while the penultimate round sees a match on Friday evening, before two on Saturday.

Where will the Six Nations 2023 be held?

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 Stade de France, situated in the suburb of Saint-Denis, will be the scene for France's home matches, including a potential final night showdown with Wales, while Italy's home is Rome's Stadio Olimpico.

What Six Nations games are on TV?

The Six Nations is a free-to-air event in the UK, meaning every fixture is shown on terrestrial television.

The BBC and ITV will once again be screening every game of the Six Nations, with the former set to show all Scotland's and Wales' home fixtures.

ITV will then broadcast each France, Ireland and Italy home fixture, while England's games are shared between the two broadcasters.

When are the key games in the Six Nations 2023?

The opening weekend will be headlined by the 128th Calcutta Cup match between England and Scotland, who will travel to Twickenham on Saturday 4th February looking to put the hosts under pressure during the first round of fixtures.

Seven days later, Ireland welcome France to the Aviva Stadium and the winner of that tie could soon find themselves winning the title.

Warren Gatland's Wales host England on Saturday 25th February, before the Red Rose host the defending champions France on Saturday 11th March.

France's campaign will come to a close against Wales on Saturday 18th March, the same day that Ireland host England at the Aviva Stadium.

Who are the favourites of the Six Nations 2023?

Ireland are listed as the 11/8 favourites for this year's tournament, while holders France are available at 6/4. England, who will be led by new coach Steve Borthwick, are 9/2 to lift the title.

Wales are considered relative outsiders at 14/1, with only Scotland and Italy available at a bigger prices of 20/1 and 500/1 respectively.

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