Wales claimed their 20th Triple Crown on England soil for the very first time in February 2012 after a titanic struggle at Twickenham. A new-look England side, under the stewardship of temporary head coach Stuart Lancaster, had Wales swaying as 12-12 but a moment of magic by replacement centre Scott Williams saw him dive over for a late try for Wales to secure a stunning 19-12 victory.
Wales's Triple Crown win in the 2008 RBS Six Nations represented the first time that the Dragons had won the title as a trophy since its creation for the 2005-2006 season's Championship. Winning it at Croke Park, Ryan Jones's lifting of the coveted crown wrestled the title from the holders, Ireland, who up until that point, had won it back-to-back in the 2006 and 2007 RBS Six Nations tournaments, the only team prior to Wales to possess the title as a physical trophy. The win in 2008 was Wales's 19th Triple Crown since the Wales national team first took to the field in 1881.
Wales's first Triple Crown success came after eleven years of international matches which also coincided as an outright Championship win. They had to wait a further seven years for their next Triple Crown success which again saw Wales win the Championship with Billy Bancroft playing at fullback in both of those winning sides.
The Triple Crown was won a further three times in the first decade of the 20th Century; 1902, 1905, 1908 and 1909 with Wales wrapping up the title outright on all four occasions and achieving the Triple Crown as part of a Grand Slam (albeit with France's matches not counted as Championship encounters) in 1908 and 1909.
1911 saw Wales achieve their first Triple Crown of the next decade and the first-ever official Championship Grand Slam to add to their 1908 and 1909 slams; France, by now, playing a full set of Championship matches allowing for a Championship clean sweep to be obtained. Captained by Billy Trew and Johnnie Williams this would represent Wales's last Triple Crown for some time and although there were subsequent Championship successes in the intervening years, Wales had to wait nearly four decades for their next Triple Crown success.
1950 and 1952 as with the previous three Triple Crowns coincided with a Grand Slam success as John Gwilliam twice captained Wales to victory over the home nations. The 6-3 victory over Ireland that delivered the first crown for Wales for 39 years in Belfast on 11th March 1950 was overshadowed by events the day afterwards. A Tudor V aircraft carrying fans back home from the match crashed outside Llandow killing 80 people, at the time, the worst aviation disaster in history. Championship success followed again after 1952 on a further four occasions but no Triple Crowns were achieved again before 1965 saw Wales bag the Crown and Championship but no Grand Slam. The men in red were not finished with Triple Crowns in the 60s, following a further Championship win in between with another Triple Crown and Championship in 1969.
As the 1970s golden-era broke into full-swing Wales pulled off five Triple Crowns, in 1971, 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979 with the 1971, 1976 and 1978 successes contributing to Grand Slam successes. The 1979 Triple Crown also secured the Championship outright. Success between 1976 and 1978 ensured Wales became the first team to win the Triple Crown three times back-to-back, a record, that with the 1979 Triple Crown they were able to stretch to four. The team selected to achieve the Triple Crown at Lansdowne Road in 1978 was, at the time, the oldest Wales team in history. Charlie Faulkner, the Pontypool prop, was the oldest player at 37.
With the legendary team of the 1970s moving on it took Wales eight years before their next Triple Crown came about as a Jonathan Davies-inspired Wales team took the Triple Crown in 1988, sharing the Championship with France in the process, after wowing the Home Nations with a brand of attacking rugby. The defeat of England at Twickenham would be Wales's last at 'HQ' for twenty years. Wales's loss to France in the final match of the 1988 Championship on March 19th 1988 denied Wales a Grand Slam and outright Championship win and Wales would have wait seventeen years to the day before securing their next Triple Crown.
The Triple Crown of 2005 came as part of the Grand Slam of the same year with Wales going into their final Championship day encounter with Ireland with four wins out of four under their belt. Three titles rested on the outcome of the match (although mathematically Wales could have still won the Championship alone even if they had lost to Ireland), and having blazed a trail through Italy, France and Scotland; Wales - led equally for exactly 50% of the tournament by both Gareth Thomas and Michael Owen - made good on their opening day victory over England to beat Ireland and deliver Wales's 18th Triple Crown, along with a Grand Slam and Championship title.
In 2008, Wales were afforded the luxury of going into their Triple Crown decider without the outcome of the Championship necessarily depending upon it. With France still to play, the Grand Slam could not yet be discussed, and a loss to Ireland at Croke Park would not have necessarily ruled out Wales's Championship ambitions. Having defeated England at Twickenham in the opening match and laying the ghosts of twenty years to rest, Wales moved on through the Championship with a renewed vigour and belief. Scotland made Wales's life difficult one week later but Wales's class shone through defeating their guests by three tries to nil.
After Italy gave Wales a chance to express themselves during the middle match if five, Wales arrived in Dublin in an assured mood looking to achieve their first win in Dublin since 2000 and their first win at Croke Park at the first time of asking. After a nervy opening passage Wales emerged the stronger of the two teams in the match, surviving two yellow cards and a half-time deficit to power forward squeezing victory from Ireland, toppling the Triple Crown title holders in the process and securing their 19th Triple Crown. All eyes turned to Cardiff and the sudden potential for a Grand Slam the following weekend.
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