What is the wooden spoon?
The wooden spoon is figurative booby prize awarded, in good-natured ridicule, to the team that finishes bottom of the table in the annual Six Nations rugby tournament. Historically, a real, physical wooden spoon was presented to the student who achieved the lowest mark in the final honours degree examinations, known as tripos, in mathematics at Cambridge University, but still earned a third-class degree. The last such spoon was awarded at Cambridge University in 1909, but 15 years earlier, the ‘South Wales Daily Post’ had already used the term, in the correct sense, in connection with rugby union.
The Six Nations began life as the Home Nations Championship – as the name suggests, featuring just England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales – in 1883. Since then, Ireland has won the wooden spoon 29 times, followed by Scotland on 21, England on 19 and Wales on 16. The Home Nations Championship became the Five Nations Championship between 1910-1931 and 1947-1999, with the addition of France, and the Six Nations Championship from 2000 onwards, with the addition of Italy. France has won the wooden spoon 12 times, but Italy has already finished bottom of the table in 13 of its 19 appearances.