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Dublin: 12°C Saturday 8 May 2021

A definitive ranking of the Six Nations' best national anthems

You’re welcome, Europe.

THE SIX NATIONS is finally back on our screens tonight. That means our pubs and sitting rooms will again be filled by the great and the not-so-great nationalistic melodies from around Europe’s rugby-hungry lands.

Rugby Union - RBS 6 Nations - England v Ireland - Twickenham Don't blame Laura Wright. She can only sing the song she's given. Source: Andrew Matthews

If there’s one thing none of us can agree on, however; it’s which anthem is the best.

That’s why The42 is about to do six countries a solid this evening. Yes, we’ve saved you from spending the weekend embroiled in an anthemic row by setting the record straight on which songs are top-top and which downright flops.

Strike up the band, look at the flag with your most serious face and get singing.


Meh. Its only redeeming factor (the ascending da da da daaaah… bit) merely leads back to more drudgery and things that rhyme with notorious.

Source: pierrewillemse/YouTube

On that note: rhyming us with glorious? Come on, lads.

6. Our own battle cry

Leaving patriotism aside, it’s a bit on the downbeat side isn’t it? An anthem that screams ‘ah, shur lookit; we might as well.’

Source: RBS 6 Nations/YouTube

5. The other anthem

Power, good. Glory, good. Shoulders, good. Ireland, great. All the boxes were ticked for the compromised anthem, but it’s still the most divisive song this nation has known since Serge Gainsbourg’s ‘Je t’aime’ was banned.

Source: RBS 6 Nations/YouTube

4. A right good singalong (even if you don’t know the words)

Il Canto degli Italiani is a happy, bouncy, plucky, passionate number that makes everyone smile pre-match.  No wonder they’re getting better every year.

Great stuff, Italy.

Source: MrJbquin/YouTube

3. No flowery language

A good decent straightforward song with no tricky changes of pace and words we can almost always remember. Sombre rather than sad too. Really makes you think about how much you want to go battle some southern invaders.

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Source: colinhendrie/YouTube

For Flower of Scotland, we thank you brothers.

2.  The Welsh one

The Welsh are a great bunch of singers, aren’t they? Not only have they got that oft-copied Bread of Heaven song pre-match, but also the stirring hymn, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau.

With the roof closed in Cardiff, the move from the shouting of ‘Gwlad’ to the hush of ‘Tra môr yn fur..’ (all in one chorus) is one of the best things about the Championship.

Source: Wales2Win/YouTube

But not the best.

1.  Allez les Bleus!

Mesdames et Messieurs , se il vous plaît se lever pour La Marseillaise.

Source: RavenSoldier/YouTube

After listening to that, those 15 players couldn’t possible have failed to beat New Zealand.

This anthem is scary enough as it is, but when France on foreign turf with a big crowd behind them you”d be better off just surrendering before they decide to act on that threat of watering their furrows with your blood. But you don’t need to know the words to know it’s amazing.

‘Marchons, marchons…’

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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