Does a strong Championship in Rugby World Cup year imply success on the biggest stage of the game?

In November, it will be 20 years since England won the Webb Ellis Cup for the first time as the only team from the northern hemisphere, making them both world and European champions. Rugby World Cup 2023 fans can buy Rugby World Cup Tickets from our website.

The Five/Six Nations-Rugby World Cup double has only been accomplished once, despite England having made four attempts. France have made two, and Scotland, Ireland, and Wales each having made one.

But with Ireland and France, two European sides that are now ranked first and second in the World Rugby Men’s Rankings powered by Capgemini, respectively. As well as a solid run of performances in the July internationals and the Autumn Nations Series. Can the north retaliate and build on its accomplishment from 2003?

Coach Jacques Fouroux led France to won their fourth Six Nations Grand Slam
Coach Jacques Fouroux led France to win their fourth Six Nations Grand Slam

This year’s Six Nations will undoubtedly have greater weight in terms of team selection and as a barometer of form as it comes just seven months before the Rugby World Cup 2023, but it doesn’t usually go that way. We examine the performance of previous Five/Six Nations champions during Rugby World Cup years at the ensuing championship match.

1987 – France comes up just short

France won their fourth Six Nations Grand Slam under coach Jacques Fouroux. Les Bleus were deserving champions and had the championship locked up with one round remaining despite not always playing at their peak or in the manner that Five Nations supporters had come to expect.

Given their performance leading up to the competition, making it to the Rugby World Cup final undoubtedly met their expectations. However, it turned out to be a game too far, and the All Blacks won 29-9 to claim the title of world champions. England was in disorder for the majority of the 1980s, and 1987 was no exception.

Then came a tame quarterfinal departure at the hands of Wales. Which was followed by a last-place result in the Five Nations. Wales was the only side from the British Isles and Ireland to have a significant influence at the RWC 1987. Taking home the bronze medal despite, like England, only winning one Five Nations match that year. Their greatest result to date is third place.

under the new leadership of Geoff Cooke Engalnd became a side transformed in 1980's
Under the new leadership of Geoff, Cooke England became a side transformed in the 1980s

Winner of the Five Nations: France (Runners-up)

1991: England and again another close call

England said goodbye to the 1980s and under the new leadership of Geoff Cooke and Will Carling, became a side transformed. Rugby World Cup 2023 fans can buy England Rugby World Cup Tickets from our website.

England won their first Grand Slam since 1980 by switching to a power-based style of play. With fly-half Rob Andrew keeping a steady hand on the rudder. A shift in strategy in the Rugby World Cup 1991 final proved to be their downfall. And Australia was awarded the Webb Ellis Cup by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

With a home Rugby World Cup to look forward to, optimism was strong that they could deliver on all fronts. Only after splitting the points in a depressing 21-21 draw in Cardiff were Wales and Ireland spared the shame of concluding the Five Nations without a point to their name.

Wales’ troubles in the Five Nations were paralleled at the Rugby World Cup 1991. Where they were unable to go past the group stages due to the loss of several of its great players who moved north to play Rugby League. One of the biggest upsets in the tournament’s history was the loss to Western Samoa, who were making their tournament debut.

Ireland, meanwhile, just missed defeating Australia and reaching the semifinals. A feat that has continuously proven beyond their capabilities since. Only for Michael Lynagh to shatter their hearts in a thrilling game at Lansdowne Road.

Scotland’s lackluster performance in the Five Nations gave little indication that they would go to the semifinals for the first and only time in Rugby World Cup history.

Five Nations champions: England * (Runners-up)

Lomu dashes England’s chances in 1995

England swept everything in their path and did it with style. Dispelling any worries that the 1995 Five Nations would serve only as a sideshow to the Rugby World Cup in June. Their achievements merited a third Grand Slam in five years. And Scotland deserved to finish in second place after their historic victory over France in Paris.

At the 1995 Rugby World Cup, both teams would lose to New Zealand, and Jonah Lomu in particular, exiting at the semi-final and final. How quick Wales went from being champions to suffering just their second-ever whitewash in a year. In South Africa, a new head coach on the eve of the 1995 Rugby World Cup had no impact.

While France lost to the hosts in the semi-finals, Ireland at least advanced to the last four.

Scott Gibbs was a great Wales Player
Scott Gibbs was a great Wales Player

Five Nations champions: England* (semi-finalists)

1999: Home Unions find it difficult to find comfort

For all the world, it appeared that England would win the final Five Nations championship up for grabs before Italy joined an expanded Championship. But in a thrilling finish to the competition, Scott Gibbs’ bullocking run and try for Wales at Wembley prevented them from winning and gave it to Scotland.

From the perspective of the Home Unions, the 1999 Rugby World Cup was mostly one to forget because England, Scotland, and Wales all lost in the quarterfinals. Ireland, who finished second-to-last with France in the Five Nations, did not even get that far as Argentina shocked them in the historic quarterfinal playoffs.

France, who had only won one game in the final Five Nations. Had undergone a complete transformation by the time of the Rugby World Cup. Reaching the championship game after an incredible comeback victory over the All Blacks in the quarterfinals. As Australia began the decade by winning the Webb Ellis Cup, Les Bleus once more had to settle for the bridesmaid position.

Five Nations champions: Scotland (quarter-finalists)

From Dublin to ultimate success in 2003

After coming so close in 1999, England missed out on two additional Grand Slams in the first two years of the new millennium until finishing second to all-conquering France in 2002. When the year 2003 arrived, Clive Woodward was under pressure to deliver a win, and this time his squad did not fumble their lines.

Clive Woodward is a famous England Rugby Team Coach
Clive Woodward is a famous England Rugby Team Coach

With victories against France, Wales, Italy, and Scotland. England only had to face Ireland away for the fourth time in five years after losing to Wales at Wembley in 1999. Scotland at Murrayfield in 2000, and Ireland in Dublin in 2001.

In the winner-takes-all game, England was appropriately cagey. But their second-half performance was one of the best halves of rugby ever created in the history of the Championship. England was naturally one of the pre-tournament favorites at the Rugby World Cup 2003. Buoyed by that 42-6 triumph as well as consecutive victories over New Zealand and Australia in June.

Although they were never really at their best as a team during the competition, England’s strong pack . Jonny Wilkinson’s kicks and Jason Robinson’s skill enabled them to make history. Even though Australia forced extra time in the final before the outcome was decided.

Ireland’s fortunes took a turn for the worst after they were humiliated by England at home. And they went from being the runners-up in the Six Nations to finishing last at the Rugby World Cup. Then of the Home Unions and France advanced to the round of eight. But Ireland’s performance against France was arguably the weakest of all.

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