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From Five to Six

The oldest and best-loved rugby competition in the world was changing.

As Italy joined the International Championship we bade a fond farewell to the Five Nations (as the competition was famously known) and welcomed the new Six Nations.

Over 75 years ago, William Wavell Wakefield was about to lead his all-conquering England side into the 1925 Five Nations Championship. At the time, France had only been involved in the annual round of matches for 15 years.

No one referred to the series of friendly games as a championship, no league tables were drawn up, no points were awarded and no prizes were given.

Television coverage was unheard of and live radio commentary was still two years away. Numbered jerseys had only been in vogue for a couple of years and the England players still wore their club socks. International players were, and would remain, strictly amateur.

On the verge of the 2000 season, and the first Six Nations Championship, Wakefield's modern counterpart, Martin Johnson, found himself leading England under very different circumstances.

The game that Wakefield lived for would now be unrecognisable to him: professional players and massive sponsorship deals, satellite television coverage and rugby internet sites. However, the International Championship continues to keep us enthralled.

To find out more about this exhibition, click on the links below to view the graphic panels from the exhibition: