Triple Crown (rugby union)

In rugby union, the Triple Crown is an honour contested annually by the "Home Nations" – i.e. England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales who compete within the larger Six Nations Championship. If any one of these teams defeats all three other teams, they win the Triple Crown.

The Six Nations Championship also includes France and Italy, but their involvement in the tournament has no influence on the result of the Triple Crown, although it means that the winners of the Triple Crown are not necessarily the winners of the Championship as a whole.

England won the first Triple Crown – although the phrase was not in use at the time – in the inaugural 1883 series of the original rugby union Home Nations Championship. The latest winners of the Triple Crown are Wales, who won it by beating England at the Principality Stadium on 27 February, having already beaten Scotland and Ireland in the 2021 Six Nations Championship.

Traditionally the Triple Crown was an informal honour with no trophy associated with it. However a trophy now exists, which has been awarded to Triple Crown winners since 2006.


The origins of the name Triple Crown are uncertain. The concept dates to the original Home Nations Championship, predecessor of the Six Nations Championship, when the competition only involved England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Like the modern Grand Slam, the Triple Crown was an informal honour to a team that won the Championship with straight victories.

The first use cited in the Oxford English Dictionary is from Whitaker's Almanack, 1900 (referring to the 1899 tournament): "In their last match at Cardiff against Wales, Ireland won by a try to nothing, securing the triple crown with three straight victories as in 1894." The Irish victory in 1894 was reported as a Triple Crown by The Irish Times at the time and is possibly the first time the phrase was seen in print.[1]

The phrase Triple Crown is also used in a number of other sports.

Trophy historyEdit

Triple Crown Trophies

Until 2006, no actual trophy was awarded to the winner of the Triple Crown, hence it was sometimes referred to as the "invisible cup". Dave Merrington, a retired miner from South Hetton, County Durham, fashioned an aspiring trophy in 1975 from a lump of coal hewn from the Haig Colliery in Cumbria. This has a crown sitting on a four-sided base on which are represented a rose, a shamrock, a thistle and the Prince of Wales feathers. It is kept in the Museum of Rugby at Twickenham.

For the 2006 Six Nations, Barry Hooper, Head of External Communications at the Royal Bank of Scotland (the primary sponsor of the competition) commissioned Edinburgh and London based Hamilton & Inches to design and create a dedicated Triple Crown Trophy. This has been awarded to Triple Crown winning sides since 2006. It has been won four times by Ireland, four times by Wales and three times by England.


There has been a Triple Crown winner in 69 of the 125 competitions held from 1883 through to 2021. (twelve years of competition were not played due to the two World Wars.)

Wales and England have both retained the Triple Crown for four consecutive years: Wales (1976–1979) and England (1995–1998). Scotland and Ireland have never won the Triple Crown for more than two successive championships.

It is possible for the Triple Crown winners to not also win that year's tournament. France and Italy may win either the tournament or Grand Slam while a home nation completes the triple crown and on rare occasions, it is possible for one home nation to win the triple crown, while another claims the championship title (but not the Grand Slam). To date, the Triple Crown winners who failed to win the Championship are Wales in 1977, England in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2014, and Ireland in 2004, 2006 and 2007. The champions were France on each occasion, apart from 2014 when Ireland were champions, the first instance of a team winning the Triple Crown but losing the overall title to another team eligible for it.

Triple Crown winners who succeeded only in sharing the Championship were England in 1954 (lost to France, shared the title with France and Wales) and 1960 (drew with France and shared the title with them), and Wales in 1988 (lost to France and shared the title with them).

The following table shows the number of Triple Crown wins by each country, and the years in which they were achieved.

  England 26 1883, 1884, 1892, 1913, 1914, 1921, 1923, 1924, 1928, 1934, 1937, 1954, 1957, 1960, 1980, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2014, 2016, 2020
  Wales 22 1893, 1900, 1902, 1905, 1908, 1909, 1911, 1950, 1952, 1965, 1969, 1971, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1988, 2005, 2008, 2012, 2019, 2021
  Ireland 11 1894, 1899, 1948, 1949, 1982, 1985, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2018
  Scotland 10 1891, 1895, 1901, 1903, 1907, 1925, 1933, 1938, 1984, 1990

The following table shows Triple Crown winners chronologically.

Year Team Notes
Home Nations Championship
1883   England [a]
1884   England [a]
1891   Scotland [a]
1892   England [a]
1893   Wales [a]
1894   Ireland [a]
1895   Scotland [a]
1899   Ireland [a]
1900   Wales [a]
1901   Scotland [a]
1902   Wales [a]
1903   Scotland [a]
1905   Wales [a]
1907   Scotland [a]
1908   Wales [a]
1909   Wales [a]
Five Nations Championship
1911   Wales [b]
1913   England [b]
1914   England [b]
1915–19 Not held due to World War I
1921   England [b]
1923   England [b]
1924   England [b]
1925   Scotland [b]
1928   England [b]
Home Nations Championship
1933   Scotland [a]
1934   England [a]
1937   England [a]
1938   Scotland [a]
1940–46 Not held due to World War II
Five Nations Championship
1948   Ireland [b]
1949   Ireland [a]
1950   Wales [b]
1952   Wales [b]
1954   England [c]
1957   England [b]
1960   England [c]
1965   Wales [a]
1969   Wales [a]
1971   Wales [b]
1976   Wales [b]
1977   Wales [d]
1978   Wales [b]
1979   Wales [a]
1980   England [b]
1982   Ireland [a]
1984   Scotland [b]
1985   Ireland [a]
1988   Wales [c]
1990   Scotland [b]
1991   England [b]
1992   England [b]
1995   England [b]
1996   England [a]
1997   England [d]
1998   England [d]
Six Nations Championship
2002   England [d]
2003   England [b]
2004   Ireland [d]
2005   Wales [b]
2006   Ireland [e]
2007   Ireland [e]
2008   Wales [b]
2009   Ireland [b]
2012   Wales [b]
2014   England [f]
2016   England [b]
2018   Ireland [b]
2019   Wales [b]
2020   England [a]
2021   Wales [a]
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac Won the Championship outright that year with the Triple Crown.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac Won the Grand Slam that year with the Triple Crown.
  3. ^ a b c Shared the Championship that year despite winning the Triple Crown.
  4. ^ a b c d e France won the Grand Slam that year.
  5. ^ a b France won the Championship that year.
  6. ^ Ireland won the Championship that year.

See alsoEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ Torpey, Michael (March 2010). "First Triple Crown win". The Clare Champion. Retrieved 25 February 2013.

External linksEdit