England aim for unprecedented Six Nations hat-trick

December 20, 2017

England's Twickenham fixtures are always eagerly anticipated, and never more so than in rugby's Six Nations. For fans coming to see the match against Wales on February 10th, the stakes could not be higher, for the home team will be aiming for an unprecedented hat-trick of outright tournament victories.

Of course, the Six Nations in its current form has only existed since the addition of Italy in 2000, but it is also the case that England never won a hat-trick when it was the Five Nations. Nor, for that matter, has anyone else; history beckons if Eddie Jones' men can win the 2018 tournament.

There have been numerous times, of course, when England have won the tournament twice in a row, just as they did in 2016 and 2017. The first two editions in 1883 and 1884 saw the flag of St George flying triumphant, but the 1885 tournament was not completed and in 1886 they could only share top spot with Scotland.

England's next back-to-back titles came in 1913 and 1914. War intervened to prevent a possible hat-trick in 1915, and when the teams got back into action in 1920 there was a three-way tie between England, Scotland and Wales. England won successive titles again in 1923 and 1924, but Scotland prevailed in 1925. 

The next brace of triumphs did not come until 1957 and 1958, by which time the addition of France to the event meant the Home Nations had become the Five Nations. Any entente cordiale did not stretch as far as any French generosity on the field, however, as they secured their first ever outright victory in 1959.

Indeed, the French have made a habit of busting England's chances of a hat-trick, repeating this feat in 1993, 1997 and 2002. They also ended Welsh hopes of a hat-trick in 1977, the one time in a five-year period that what was arguably Wales's finest ever team did not win the tournament. 

Beating Wales could be the key to victory, as will the other home game against Ireland. England know they also face tough away battles in Paris and against a fast-improving Scotland team in Edinburgh.

For all that, Eddie Jones knows he has a formidable squad at his disposal, with a dozen new players getting their first taste of international rugby this autumn in order to further expand England's formidable strength in depth. 

Even before England's final game of the autumn against Samoa, Jones, always the man with the longer-term vision, was eyeing up the prospect of making history in the spring.

He said: "I'm excited about the Six Nations as we’ve got the opportunity to create history by winning it three consecutive times.

"We want to get better with every game. The Six Nations is always tough as every side wants to beat us. Playing England is their big game and that’s the great thing for us, we’re put under enormous pressure in every match so we are going to have to prepare well."

When Wales come to Twickenham, they will be looking to spoil the party. Can this England rise to the challenge and complete the hat-trick that has eluded all their predecessors?

Image: Getty, from Keith Prowse subscription

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