Ireland are the current Grand Slam title holders, for the first time since 1948, having won the competition in 2009 by beating all other teams, and winning the Triple Crown by beating England, Scotland and Wales.
Ireland currently holds the Triple Crown after beating Wales 17–15 at the Millennium Stadium on 21 March 2009.
Ireland's highest ever position in the IRB World Rankings is third which they reached in 2003 and 2006. They currently lie in fourth position as of 30 November 2009.
Wales played their first international against England. Wales' performances in the Home Nations Championship continued to improve, experiencing their first 'golden age' between 1900 and 1911. They first played New Zealand, known as the All Blacks, in 1905, when they defeated them 3–0 in a famous match at Cardiff Arms Park. Welsh rugby struggled between the first and second World Wars, but experienced a second 'golden age' between 1969 and 1980 when they won eight Five Nations Championships. They played in the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987 where they achieved their best ever result of third. Following the professionalization of rugby in 1995, Wales hosted the 1999 World Cup and, in 2005, won their first Six Nations Grand Slam which was followed by a second in 2008. Their 2005 Grand Slam is notable for being the first ever team to gain the accolade playing most matches away from home. Only Ireland repeated this in 2009.
Current players include Captain Ryan Jones and 2008 International Rugby Player of the Year Shane Williams. Williams has also scored more tries for Wales than any other player with 48.
Wales next won the Five Nations outright in 1975, after sharing it with the four other countries in 1973. In 1976, Wales won their second Grand slam of the decade. Just like the first in 1971, they only used 16 players over their four matches. They repeated the feat in 1978 and, in the process, became the first team to win three consecutive Triple Crowns.
Wales won their first Six Nations Grand Slam in 2005. Wales sealed their second Six Nations Grand Slam in four championships by beating France 29–12 at the Millennium Stadium. Wales conceded only two tries in the entire tournament, halving the previous record of four tries conceded by England in both 2002 and 2003.
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