What Is The Wooden Spoon?

The Wooden Spoon is metaphorical prize for the team who finishes last in the Six Nations.

It is much like the fabled Lanterne Rouge in the Tour de France, where the rider who finishes last but still completes the tour is honoured. However, unlike the example from the world’s most famous cycling competition, there is no physical prize handed over to the dead-last side in the Six Nations.

Related: Ireland win the Six Nations

As legend would have it, the original practice of handing out ‘Wooden Spoons’ comes from Cambridge University where they were awarded to the student with the lowest mark in the mathematics tripos, during the 19th century. According to the tales, the spoons would vary in size over time. It is uncertain how the tradition was adopted in rugby.

Embracing the spoon: Fans in Rome hold aloft a giant wooden spoon

Stadio showdown: In 2016, Italy and Scotland played to see who would lift the Wooden Spoon

You will always hear discussions near the end of a Six Nations tournament about who the contenders for a Spoon, although across in France it is believed that a team should only be Spoon holders if they have been whitewashed, losing every game.

Since 2000, when Italy joined the tournament to up it from the Five Nations to Six, only England and Ireland have avoided last place. Italy have collected the most Wooden Spoons since 2000, with 11, and have been whitewashed six times. Should they lose against Scotland in Rome this weekend, not only will they have finished last 12 times in the Six Nations, but they will have been whitewashed seven times too.

Related: What is a Grand Slam?

While Ireland men hunt down a Grand Slam in the men’s Six Nations, and France do the same in the women’s competition, it is a foregone conclusion that Italy men will finish last.

Will Italy’s women do the same? Well after their fantastic win over Wales in the last round, it now all comes down to this weekend to determine whether it will be them, Scotland or Wales at the foot of the table come Sunday.