By Tadhg Peavoy
There can be no escaping the fact that Ireland are chasing an incredible reward in this season’s Six Nations.
Taking home the title once more would make Joe Schmidt’s team the first in history to win European rugby’s top prize outright three times in succession. It’s been talked about in hushed tones and is the element of glory that has been skirting around in the background of the Six Nations story this season.
With home ties against Italy and Scotland in rounds four and five, one would imagine, Ireland will need to claim away wins in Paris and London to take the accolade and there are many, many breakdowns to be contested, and kicking tees to be lined up, before the final process of examining that comes to pass.
However, what is interesting is to look at what sides have achieved multiples in the past, with shared titles included. More for the purpose of rugby anorak exploration than critical analysis of how good Irelands odds are this season.
Up until 1993, titles were not decided on points difference, but instead shared, and it is largely for this reason that no team has won three outright, instead teams have gone on multiple year wins, with shared titles part of those sequences.
Scotland claim six in the 1800s
Scotland were the first team do so from 1886 to 1891 when they won six on the trot (three were shared) and to this day this remains the most-winning run by any nation in the history of the tournament.
England, Scotland & Wales claim trebles in 1900s
The sport’s father figures, England, were the next side to do multiple wins from 1912-14, when they shared a title with Ireland before winning two outright. The Scots equalled that feat with three of their own from 1925-27, wining the first outright before sharing the second two with Ireland.
Wales matched their British counterparts with three on the trot from 1954-56, their first multiple sequence. They claimed the last of those three outright.
France enter the fray
Les Bleus were the fourth nation to go on a multiple run claiming four in a row from 1959-62, with three outright wins and just one shared in 1960; this French team is arguaby the most successful in the history of the championship.
Wales bag two multiples
It was the turn of the Welsh next as they claimed two multiple runs in quick succession. 1964-66 (one shared & two outright) followed by 1969-71 (again one shared & two outright).
The French return
The dominant French side of the 1980s matched their compatriots’ efforts in ’62, with four titles between 1986 and 1989 (two shared & two outright).
Shared titles end
That was the last mutiple run of three or more, as shared titles were ended in 1994.
Since then England, France, Ireland and Wales have all won back-to-backs, as they had also done in the pre-Six Nations era, but no side has bagged the trio.
Ireland and Italy of course are the odd men out in the list, with neither side having ever having gone on runs of three consecutive titles.
This absence in the history books for Ireland, of course, makes a third win on the trot all the more appealing and enticing for the IRFU class of 2016.
Multiple championship title wins:
6 Scotland (1886-91)
4 France – twice (1959-62 & 1986-89)
3 England (1912-14)
3 Scotland (1925-27)
3 Wales – thrice (1954-56, 1964-66 & 1969-71)