How Guinness Six Nations teams have performed at the Rugby World Cup

Jonny Wilkinson England 10
The Rugby World Cup gets underway this week and the Guinness Six Nations sides are ready to make an impact on the world stage.

The Rugby World Cup gets underway this week and the Guinness Six Nations sides are ready to make an impact on the world stage.

England, France, Ireland, Scotland, Italy and Wales have all enjoyed varying levels of success at the tournament over the years, but each of the teams possess the talent to hurt the best sides from the Southern Hemisphere.

So, with just days to go until the start of the competition, let’s take a look back at how the Guinness Six Nations sides have performed in years gone by.


Twenty years on from that famous night in Sydney, England are still the only northern hemisphere side to have won the World Cup.

Jonny Wilkinson’s iconic drop goal handed Sir Clive Woodward’s team a dramatic 20-17 victory over Australia in extra time, a moment England have been trying to recreate ever since.

They have come within touching distance of returning to the top of the mountain on two occasions, only to have their hopes ended by South Africa.

Having also finished second in 1991, they fell to a 15-6 defeat against the Springboks in 2007’s final and a 32-12 loss at the same stage in Japan four years ago.

However, England have also had some more testing campaigns at the tournament.

They became the first host nation not to reach the knockout stages in 2015, while they were famously barged out at the semi-final stage in 1995 by a Jonah Lomu-inspired New Zealand side.

After a challenging 2023 Guinness Six Nations, England will hope for another long run in the tournament.


The tournament hosts have finished as runners-up on three occasions, but now they will look to go one step further as the World Cup returns to French soil.

They fell to a 29-9 defeat at the hands of the All Blacks in the first-ever World Cup Final back in 1987, before losing 35-12 against Australia at the same stage 12 years later.

The closest they have come to World Cup glory was in 2011 in New Zealand, where they were edged 8-7 by the All Blacks at Eden Park.

However, Les Bleus have struggled to replicate their initial success at the tournament in recent years.

Having only failed to make it past the quarter-finals once between 1987 and 2011, France have since been eliminated at that stage at back-to-back tournaments.

The pressure will be on them when they look to make history on home soil, but they have the talent to go all the way.


Despite producing some of the best players in the history of the sport, Ireland have never made it past the quarter-finals.

That record has earned them the title of the tournament’s perennial underachievers, but since the arrival of Andy Farrell, things have started to change.

They could now reasonably expect to be called tournament favourites after becoming World Rugby’s top-ranked side and winning the 2023 Guinness Six Nations Grand Slam.

However, they should proceed with caution.

Joe Schmidt thought he had banished Ireland’s World Cup demons after inspiring his side to a first victory over the All Blacks in the buildup to the 2019 tournament.

However, he saw his side beaten 46-14 by the All Blacks in the quarter-finals four years ago.

Ireland have the talent to finally make it past the quarter-final stage in France, but after a blockbuster four years under Farrell, some of their fans may be expecting more.


Kieran Crowley has inspired Italy to new heights since taking charge in 2021, but he’ll have to produce something truly special to get Italy out of the pool stages for the first time.

Italy finished three points behind the Springboks in Pool B four years ago, but the closest they have come to knockout rugby was actually all the way back in 1987.

They let an opportunity slip that year, finishing the pool level on two points with Argentina and Fiji, but missing out on tries scored.

With two of the tournament favourites waiting for them in Pool A this year in the form of New Zealand and France, the Azzurri will need to be at their absolute best to stand a chance of ending their unwanted pool stage record.


Scotland finished fourth in 1991 but have not made it past the quarter-finals since.

They were beaten 9-6 by old rivals England in that year’s semi-final before losing 13-6 to the All Blacks in the third-place play-off.

However, in recent years they have struggled at the tournament.

A 13-12 defeat against Argentina in Pool B cost them a place in the knockout stage in 2011.

Then four years ago they finished third in Pool A behind Ireland and tournament hosts Japan.

Gregor Townsend has nurtured the best Scotland side in a generation, they have the talent to replicate their 1991 heroics.

But with South Africa and Ireland looking dangerous in Pool B, it could be three pool-stage eliminations in four tournaments for Scotland if they are not careful.


Warren Gatland led a Welsh resurgence during the 2010s, inspiring them to their best finish at the tournament since 1987.

Wales performed well at the first World Cup, finishing third after beating Australia 22-21 following a 49-6 semi-final defeat to the All Blacks.

They could not make it past the quarter-finals between 1991 and 2007 though and were eliminated from the pool stage three times in that period.

However, Gatland’s tenure signalled a return to the top table for Wales.

They finished fourth at his first tournament as head coach in 2011, falling to an agonising 9-8 defeat against France in the semi-finals before being beaten 21-18 in the third-place play-off against Australia.

A quarter-final exit at the hands of South Africa followed in 2015, but they were back in the final four in 2019.

However, it was another case of so close but so far for Gatland’s side as they fell to a 19-16 defeat against the Springboks in the semi-finals.

And they could not clinch third in Japan, losing 40-17 against New Zealand.