Friday 6th February is an important date in the diary of any sporting gentleman, marking the start of the Six Nations Championship, a rugby tournament played between the nations of England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France and Italy. It started out life as a competition called the Home Nations in 1893 played between England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, and became the Six Nations in 2000. England and Wales lead the way with 26 outright victories each, although Wales edge out England with 12 shared victories, to England’s 10.
The championship is further broken down into the Triple Crown, contested by England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, and is awarded to a team that wins all their matches against the other three nations.
Many an old sporting rivalry is rekindled during these matches, the stereotype is that of the English seeing the tournament as one of the few remaining opportunities to get one over on the French, and for every other nation it is an opportunity to stick it to the English. This light hearted rivalry is precisely the reason why the Six Nations Championship galvanises the Northern Hemisphere rugby world every year, as long as the sporting gentleman is able to efficiently combine his love of rugby with his Valentine’s Day plans on the 14th.
But why is rugby the chosen pursuit of many gentleman? The first rule of the rugby playing gentleman is to expect nothing less of either his teammates or the opposition, than to give his all on the pitch. The second rule is always to bond with those same opponents because they share a passion and love of the game.
“Rugby is great. The players don’t wear helmets or padding; they just beat the living daylights out of each other and then go for a beer. I love that” – Joe Theismann
Whilst this may be a somewhat crude quote, it is an interesting view of the sport from an American Footballer player and it rather accurately encompasses the two most important aspects of any sporting gentleman’s affiliation with rugby; the handling of one’s self on and off the pitch.
Any sporting gentleman will find the spirit of both competition and community is as much a part of the game on a rainy winter’s afternoon at the local rugby club as it will be when Wales and England kickoff the first match at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Indeed one of the most enjoyable aspects of the tournament is the traditional wine and cheese picnic, hosted before kickoff at England’s home ground Twickenham. A thoroughly enjoyable experience for any gentleman.
2015 marks a significant year for all involved in the Six Nations Championship as they prepare for the Rugby World Cup in the United Kingdom starting in September. Each country will be looking to finalise their best XV over the course of the tournament, as they prepare to compete in Rugby’s showpiece event.
As a result we can expect two months of fiercely competitive and entertaining Rugby, whilst providing rugby fans from across all six nations the opportunity to embrace their mutual love of the game. A mouth watering prospect for any sporting gentleman.