Oh how I miss Alan (diafol) at times like this. Those times being when England beat Wales in the Six Nations rugby :-)

Any other rugby union fans left on DaniWeb?

Out of curiosity, how did they pick which six nations would be the "Six Nations"? I'm also seeing Ireland, Wales, England, and Scotland. Is NORTHERN Ireland involved at all? If so, since there is no "Northern Ireland" team, do they play as part of the England team or the Ireland team? I'm guessing they aren't part of the Irish team, but given that the North and South Koreans are at least sort of in a small way putting aside differences for the Olympics as we speak, might there actually be hope for Irish unity?

As for the game itself, what's the popularity of rugby in your neck of the woods as compared to, say, soccer (I refuse to call it football. We have the real football here. Flame away. :))

Rugby kicks ass. It's fun to watch. If only I understood what the heck I was watching.

The Six Nations started as a 'Home Nations' tournament back in the 1880's with just the four home teams playing. France were added into the mix post war as it became the 'Five Nations' and Italy made up the numbers to where we are today much more recently in the year 2000.

Ireland is a unified team featuring Northern Ireland as well. Indeed, when the national anthems are played pre-match, Ireland has two different anthems played one after the other :-)

As for popularity here, I was born and bred in London. In the south of the country it's all Rugby Union (same game as played in the Six Nations) and I played for both my school and at county level. I now live further north, in Yorskhire, where the popular game is Rugby League (which is far less physical, no contested scrums, hardly any physical contact - I hate it.) I'm a Rugby Union man through and through... All that said, football is the national game in the UK and rugby takes very much a back seat.

(I refuse to call it football. We have the real football here. Flame away. :))

hehe... no, your 'football' is what we call handball here. :)

Ireland is a unified team featuring Northern Ireland as well. Indeed, when the national anthems are played pre-match, Ireland has two different anthems played one after the other :-)

That's pretty damn cool.

Italy made up the numbers to where we are today much more recently in the year 2000.

Never pictured Italians as rugby players. My google-fu is apparently weak. I've been looking for a nicely organized list of the rankings by year and coming up with a bunch of tables that I can't even read. Who tends to dominate in this?

And can you have a real rugby tournament without the Aussies and the Kiwis? Too far away?

Italy were included back in 2000 to help develop the national game, and it has worked: while they still tend to finish last (and often get the wooden spoon for losing every match) they are a vastly improved team nowadays.

Historically, the Six Nations is generally between England, Ireland and Wales with French hopes depending, as the saying goes, on 'which team truns up on the day.' Scotland are another much improved side, and no longer destined to always be fifth.

If England win this year, it will be the first time any team has won back-to-back titles outright in Six Nations history. They are looking good so to do, on a 23 out of 24 win streak across all matches and last year they equalled the All Blacks record of 18 consecutive test match wins.

As for why no All Blacks or Australia, it's a hemisphere thing. There are tournaments in both north and south, test match tours etc, but the World Cup is where they all mix it up.