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"Crouch, bind, set!": begins the Six Nations of rugby

It’s starting the 129th edition of the tournament, the 24th is. since the participants joined Italy. We retrace the history of the competition, revealing curiosity and future promises


For five weeks, from 4 February to 18 March, the eyes of sports fans will be on Europe. Cardiff, Edinburgh, Dublin, London, Paris and Rome will be the capitals of one of the most important tournaments in the oval-ball world: the Six Nations. Five rounds for a total of fifteen matches (of these, three will be played at the Olimpico: on 5 February against France, on 25 against Ireland and on 11 March with Wales), each of which will give eighty minutes of pure entertainment.

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The event has distant roots and in time there have been transformations. The first edition dates back to 1883, when the four rugby union federations belonging to the United Kingdom gave rise to the Home Nations Championship: the first and only international rugby union competition in the world, England triumphed in its debut. The beginning of the XX century is remembered as a period of settling, during which there were disputes about the organization of the championship and even the rules of the sport: invented just sixty years before, rugby was still in its embryonic phase and some dynamics of the match had not yet been regulated.

Shortly before the two world wars, during which the event was interrupted, the Home Nations began to expand beyond the Channel: with the participation of France in the 1910 edition, in fact, the Five Nations was born. To get to the current structure, however, we will have to wait for the new millennium: in 2000 Italy is admitted, after years of great international results and thanks to the commitment of the leaders of the F.I.R. (Italian Rugby Federation).

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Today, the Six Nations is divided into a one-way Italian group, at the end of which the winner is decided thanks to a ranking: four points in case of victory, the draw is worth two and the defeat is zero. Bonus points also exist based on the number of tries scored or the positive streak. The team that wins all the matches, in addition to raising the cup, is awarded the Grand Slam title. In each edition are then awarded trophies such as the Calcutta Cup, up for grabs between England and Scotland; the Triple Crown between the British national teams; the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy contested by the two transalpine teams (since its establishment in 2007, only twice has it been won by Italy). Also for the losing team there is a symbolic trophy, the Wooden Spoon, weighted by the title Whitewash if this has lost all the games played: the antithesis of the Grand Slam, Unfortunately, Italy has been invested eleven times.

To date, this is the list of the tournament:

  • Wales: 39 wins, 12 with Grand Slams.
  • England: 39 wins, with 13 Grand Slams.
  • France: 26 wins, with 10 Grand Slams.
  • Ireland: 22 wins, with 3 Grand Slams.
  • Scotland: 22 wins, with 3 Grand Slams.
  • Italy: 0 victories.
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Rugby is a sport in which traditions, tributes and symbols abound: an example of all, the history behind the logos of the teams, real concentrates of history and legends.

The Welsh Dragoons carry the three ostrich feathers, the Prince of Wales' coat of arms. Legend has it that Edward the Black Prince, after defeating the king of Bohemia in 1346, adopted the exotic feathers, which decorated the helmet of his enemy, as a noble coat of arms. 

The English national team abandons the classic three lions and dusts off the red rose of Tudor: for more details, look in the school books the much studied (and hated) war of the two roses. 

Also les Bleus refer to tradition, this time rediscovering the Celtic roots of the Gauls, adopting the red rooster as coat of arms.

The giants of the Highlands proudly display the thistle, national emblem. Why this flower? Legend has it that a Viking invasion was thwarted thanks to these flowers: the invaders arrived barefoot to the Scottish camps, for a greater surprise effect. Pricking themselves with thistle thorns, however, they screamed in pain, were discovered and driven back to their ships.

Ireland also focuses on the plant world: Shamrock, the clover that according to myth, was used by Saint Patrick to explain the Trinity in his work of evangelization of the island. A symbol that binds the whole of Ireland: despite the historical tensions between EIRE and Northern Ireland, the rugby team represents the four provinces (Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster), united in sport.

Finally the Azzurri, who opt for the classic tricolor shield, surrounded by golden leaves.

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Now that we know the origins of the Six Nations, what is its next past? Where did we leave it in 2022?

The 128th edition ended with the triumph of France, which also won its tenth Grand Slam. Yet another bottom for the Italian national team coached by Kieran Crowley: the result, however, went into the background, because the last game gave unforgettable emotions, fueling hopes for the future. Wales-Italy ended 21-22 (historic first victory in Cardiff), decided in the last minutes: a sprint on the belt of Ange Capuozzo, extreme class '99, embellished with a pair of dribbling, Paolo Garbisi, from the soccer field, was the one to overtake and sign the triumph. The winner was Paolo Garbisi.

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The edition that is starting sees the reigning champions again favorites, although nothing is yet decided: beware of the Scots, chasing the first cup since the tournament is held in six; favored by bookmakers even the Irish. If the premises are those of the last match against the Welsh, also Italy can reserve great plays, proving to be a growing reality and a breeding ground of incredible talents. All that remains is to wait for the start whistle and jump into the fray: Crouch, bind, set!

Image Dave Adamson on Unsplash