Five Classics: Triple Crown deciders

At the start of any Guinness Six Nations, every home nations player dreams of winning the Triple Crown.

At the start of any Guinness Six Nations, every home nations player dreams of winning the Triple Crown.

It is the ultimate bragging right, a reminder of just how important regional rivalries are to the sport of rugby.

Over the years we have seen some classics between England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

And this year should be no different, with Scotland and Ireland still in the hunt for the Triple Crown ahead of their clash in Round 4.

So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the great Triple Crown deciders over the years.

Wales 32-20 Ireland (2005)

Wales recorded their first Grand Slam since 1978 and their first Triple Crown since 1988 with a remarkable win in Cardiff in 2005.

This Round 5 clash saw Wales going for the Grand Slam and Ireland looking to win back-to-back Grand Slams, with an outside shot at the Championship with a huge win.

They did not get it, Wales’ 32-20 triumph was also their first over Ireland at their new ground.

It was a fantastic contest in its own right though, with a first-half try from Gethin Jenkins helping Wales to a 16-6 lead at the break.

Gavin Henson did his bit with a drop goal and a long-range penalty, and then Kevin Morgan’s try put Wales 29-6 up before scores from Marcus Horan and Geordan Murphy ensured a nervous finale.

Wales added 16 points from the boot of Stephen Jones and held on to win the Triple Crown and the Slam.

England 24-28 Ireland (2006)

Ireland were on the winning side a year later though, beating England 28-24 in dramatic circumstances at Twickenham to clinch the Triple Crown.

Ireland led 11-8 at the break after Shane Horgan cancelled out Jamie Noon’s early try.

Steve Borthwick’s score put England ahead but Denis Leamy responded to restore Ireland’s advantage.

Andy Goode landed two penalties to make it 24-21 but Horgan pounced at the death, scoring a try to give Ireland the win and the Triple Crown. They could have conceivably won the title as well, but were never in reach of the 34-point success they needed to deny France.

Ireland 12-16 Wales (2008)

Just two years on from their last triumph, Wales were Triple Crown winners once again in 2008. Unlike our previous two examples though, this came in Round 4 of the Championship.

Having already beaten England away and then Scotland at home, as well as Italy, Wales were dreaming of a Slam, while Ireland still had Triple Crown aspirations of their own.

Shane Williams’ record-equalling 40th Test try put his side ahead in a battle of attrition between the two teams.

The winger produced a moment of magic to skip through Ireland’s defence and dot down in the corner for the only try of the game.

Ireland closed to within a point through a Ronan O’Gara penalty, but James Hook’s late kick sealed a famous win for Warren Gatland’s side, who went on to clinch the Slam against France in Round 5.

England 25-21 Wales (2016)

An Owen Farrell masterclass inspired England to their 25th Triple Crown in 2016 as they beat Wales 25-21 at Twickenham in Round 4.

The triumph took Eddie Jones’ side to within one win of their first Grand Slam in 13 years.

The match was a classic, a one-score encounter that England edged thanks to Farrell’s 20-point haul.

England were 16-0 up at the break thanks to an Anthony Watson try and three Farrell penalties.

Dan Biggar crossed the whitewash to give Wales hope, but Farrell’s boot gave England breathing room.

Two tries in four minutes from George North and Taulupe Faletau changed all that, and the game ended dramatically as North nearly scored a second.

However, England hung on to the win and wrapped up a historic Triple Crown on their way to their 13th Grand Slam.

England 33-30 Wales (2020)

The 2020 Guinness Six Nations was exceptional for a number of reasons, good and bad.

One of the big positives of the Championship was the manner in which England wrapped up the Triple Crown.

They looked set to secure their first since 2016 after beating Scotland 13-6 at BT Murrayfield in Round 2 and Ireland 24-12 in Round 3.

Both were thrilling contests, but the decider in Round 4 will live long in the memory.

England won their fifth Triple Crown of the Six Nations era with a bruising 33-30 victory over Wales in front of a raucous Twickenham crowd.

Anthony Watson and Elliot Daly both crossed the whitewash for the hosts as Eddie Jones’ side stormed into an 11-point lead at half-time.

Manu Tuilagi’s try after the break and a 15-point haul from the tee for Owen Farrell looked to have wrapped up the win for the hosts.

However, Wales battled all the way, getting on the scoresheet through a Justin Tipuric double and a try from Dan Biggar.

That was not enough though, and England went onto win in Rome, months later after a Covid-interrupted Championship, to take the title on points difference ahead of France, their conquerors in Round 1.