The Five Most Iconic Moments in Six Nations History
February 1, 2019
England’s six titles makes them the most successful outfit, with France one behind on five while Ireland and Wales have four wins each.
Scotland and Italy are yet to land the Six Nations title, although the Murrayfield outfit were the last side to lift the Five Nations trophy before the turn of the Millennium.
While the fortunes of the countries involved differ each year, the interest in the Six Nations betting remains constant.
With the tournament getting underway in France on Friday evening, let’s take a look back at five memorable moments in Six Nations history.
England Head to Australia on the Back of Six Nations Grand Slam
2003 was the greatest year in English rugby union history as the Red Roses were crowned champions of the world after beating Australia in their own back yard.
Before that, however, Clive Woodward’s men ‘warmed up’ for the Rugby World Cup with the small matter of a Six Nations Grand Slam.
A 20-point haul from kicker Jonny Wilkinson saw England open their account with a 25-17 victory over 2002 Grand Slam winners France.
A 26-9 win in Wales followed before 40-5 and 40-9 drubbings over Italy and Scotland respectively.
A trip to Ireland awaited and, for the first time in Six Nations history, two sides went into the final game with ambitions of a Grand Slam very much intact.
Ireland had battled to their 100% record with a 15-12 victory over France and an incredible 25-24 win in Wales. They had Ronan O’Gara to thank for that stunning Cardiff victory, as the Munster fly-half kicked an injury-time drop goal to send the travelling Irish fans jubilant.
The hosts started the quicker at Landsdowne Road, and took a 3-0 lead as England’s previous Grand Slam failures looked set to haunt them once again.
It wasn’t long though before the whites took control as Lawrence Dallaglio crossed to hand the initiative to the visitors.
Trailing 6-13 at the interval, the Irish remained very much in the contest, but were blown away by 29 unanswered second-half points, thanks to tries from Will Greenwood (2), Dan Luger and Mike Tindall.
A comprehensive 42-6 victory handed England their first ever Six Nations Grand Slam, and meant that Martin Johnson and co. headed to the World Cup as one of the favourites in the rugby union betting.
We all know what happened next.
France Avenge World Cup Heartbreak With Grand Slam Victory Over England
2003 was without doubt the pinnacle for English rugby, but the sweet chariot came crashing back down to earth in 2004.
It could have been so different, as the Six Nations holders went into the final match in Paris with a chance to win the Championship.
A 13-19 home defeat to Ireland had already ruled out back-to-back Grand Slam’s for England, but a win by eight points or more over the French would have seen them successfully defend their title.
In reality, such a result was never on the cards, as a Dimitri Yachvili inspired France soared to a 21-3 half-time lead.
A resurgent Red Roses outfit, led by the kicking off Olly Barkley, looked destined to complete a miraculous recovery as they reduced the deficit to just three points with four minutes left to play.
While a draw would still have resulted in France regaining the trophy, their Grand Slam dreams were dangerously close to being ripped away from them at the last moment.
They managed to hold out for their second Grand Slam in three seasons, and the success was that bit sweeter coming against England.
Just four months earlier, England had beaten France in the World Cup semi-finals on their way to being crowned world champions.
The 24-7 defeat in Sydney clearly still hurt the French team, and the celebrations of landing a Grand Slam against their fierce rivals showed how much the victory meant.
Sexton’s Miracle Drop Goal
Ireland have fast become the dominant force of European rugby, winning three of the last five Six Nations titles, and winning their own Grand Slam in 2018.
Joe Schmidt’s side are the odds-on favourites in the Six Nations betting this time around, and will want to get off to a winning start against England on Saturday.
Their 2018 campaign ended in perfect fashion, with kicker Jonny Sexton’s long-range injury-time drop goal securing the Grand Slam honours in the nick of time.
Ireland had looked comfortable throughout the tournament, and were expected to deal with a struggling French side with relative ease.
However, when Teddy Thomas crossed in the 72nd minute, Anthony Belleau’s conversion seemed to have ended Irish hopes of another 100% record.
As you have probably already gathered, the Six Nations has a habit of producing iconic moments, and the 83rd minute winner from Sexton will live long in the memory.
An excruciating 41 phases passed before Ireland forced themselves into a kicking position. Still, standing just inside the French half, the odds were stacked against Sexton to actually deliver a winning kick.
He couldn’t have caught it any sweeter as the ball sailed between the posts to send the travelling Irish fans into a frenzy.
O’Gara Boots Ireland to Iconic Grand Slam
2018 was Ireland’s first Grand Slam since 2009, and the similarities in how they were both secured are quite something.
Heading into the final game of the championship, Ireland once again found themselves on their travels in a bid to maintain the coveted 100% record.
Their route to the decisive match wasn’t quite as straight forward ten years ago, and included a nail-biting 14-13 victory over England.
Still, Ireland headed to Wales as favourites to claim their first Grand Slam since 1948.
The legendary Brian O’Driscoll scored the only try of the game, but the kicking of Stephen Jones had put Wales into a 15-14 lead with two minutes to play.
It was clearly time for one of those previously mentioned iconic moments, and onlookers weren’t disappointed (unless they were Welsh).
Just outside the Wales 22 metre line, O’Gara collected the ball in front of the posts and clipped his kick in between the posts to make history.
Wales Demolish England to Snatch Title on Final Day
When England travelled to the Millennium Stadium in March 2013, they did so knowing that a win over Wales would see them become the first side to record back-to-back Grand Slams in Six Nations history.
The hosts clearly hadn’t read the script, knowing that a winning margin of seven points or more would see them snatch the title from their visitors.
Their hopes of successive Grand Slam’s were buried on the opening day, when Ireland won in Cardiff 30-22.
However, impressive away wins in Ireland, France and Scotland offered hope of defending their title.
Leading 9-3 at half-time, the atmosphere was tense with Wales one-point shy of the required seven to lift the title.
The home crowd might have been nervous, but the players were anything but, scoring 21 unanswered points to register their biggest ever victory over England.
Two Alex Cuthbert tries, as well as a whole host of kicks from Dan Biggar and Leigh Halfpenny, overwhelmed a shell-shocked English outfit, with the atmosphere inside the stadium quickly transforming from nervous to jubilant.
Where to Enjoy Your Six Nations Betting
Outside of the World Cup, the Six Nations is the most fiercely contested competition in rugby union.
Given the interest across the continent, the betting opportunities are aplenty.
Can anyone stop Ireland from defending their title? Come and have your say.
Find all your Six Nations betting odds here
Gary has been writing for a variety of well-respected media outlets for over a decade. His work has been published on websites such as The Mirror, Manchester Evening News and the Liverpool Echo. Formerly a reporter with the world’s largest football website in Goal.com, Gary is a boxing fanatic and previously ran his own boxing column for Betfred. He used to own an Everton fansite, but his love affair with his beloved Toffees is close to coming unstuck.