Asked if it was regarded as key for the tournament to remain on free-to-air television, Feehan said that it was important "to look at what you are trying to achieve out of the championship". He said: "The championship has never been healthier, it is in great shape and our terrestrial broadcasters have been fantastic partners. But that being said, they, like anybody else, have to be kept honest. The Six Nations is fundamental to that. That means it can be shown on pay-TV provided there is sufficient secondary coverage such as delayed broadcast and highlights.
However England was excluded from the and tournaments due to their refusal to join the International Rugby Football Board.
The tournament then became the Five Nations Championship in with the addition of France. The tournament was expanded in to become the Six Nations Championship with the addition of Italy.
The format of the Championship is simple: each team plays every other team once making a total of 15 matches , with home ground advantage alternating from one year to the next. Prior to the tournament, two points were awarded for a win, one for a draw and none for a loss.
Unlike many other rugby union competitions the bonus point system had not previously been used. On 30 November , the Six Nations Committee announced that a bonus point system would be trialled in the Championship.
The system is similar to the one used in most rugby championships 0 points for a loss, 2 for a draw, 4 for a win, 1 for scoring four or more tries in a match, and 1 for losing by 7 points or fewer , with the only difference being that a Grand Slam winner will be given 3 extra points to ensure they finish top of the table.
Prior to , teams equal on match points shared the championship.
Since then, ties have been broken by considering the points difference total points scored minus total points conceded of the teams. The rules of the championship further provide that if teams tie on both match points and points difference, the team that scored the most tries wins the championship.
Were this decider to be a tie, the tying teams would share the championship.
Also, the team that finishes at the bottom of the league table is said to have won the Wooden Spoon , although no actual trophy is given to the team. A team that has lost all five matches is said to have been whitewashed.
Italy are the holders of the most Wooden Spoon awards in the Six Nations era with 14, and have been whitewashed nine times.
However, each of the other five nations has accumulated more than that through competing in previous eras.
It is a sterling silver trophy, designed by James Brent-Ward and made by a team of eight silversmiths from the London firm William Comyns. It has 15 side panels representing the 15 members of the team and with three handles to represent the three officials referee and two touch judges.
The cup has a capacity of 3. Within the mahogany base is a concealed drawer which contains six alternative finials , each a silver replica of one of the team emblems, which can be screwed on the detachable lid.
A new trophy was introduced for the Championship. Ireland were the last team to win the old trophy, and coincidentally, the first team to win the new one.
The Triple Crown may only be won by one of the Home Nations of England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales, when one nation wins all three of their matches against the others. It has since been won four times by Ireland,three times by Wales and twice by England.
Rivalry trophies[ edit ] Several individual competitions take place under the umbrella of the tournament. Some of these trophies are also awarded for friendly matches between the two teams outside the Six Nations.