Which teams contested the first Four Nations Championship match?

Not to be confused with the Rugby League Four Nations, which was last played in 2016, the Four Nations Championship, a.k.a. the Home Nations Championship or International Championship, was the original incarnation of what became the Six Nations Rugby Union Championship. Initially, the annual international competition was an entirely domestic affair, featuring teams from only England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales; it became the Five Nations Championship in 1910, when France joined, and the Six Nations Championship in 2000, when Italy was admitted.

It would be fair to say that, by modern standards, the Four Nations Championship was a chaotic affair. In those early days, there was no points system and matches were decided on goals scored. A goal could be scored by means of a successful conversion, following a try, a drop-kick in open play or a seldom-seen scoring move known as a ‘goal from mark’. At that time, a player could make a mark by taking a fair catch anywhere on the field and, thereafter, had the option of taking a place-kick or drop-kick at goal. If teams finished level on goals scored, the number of unconverted tries was used to decide the winner; if the teams still finished level, the match was declared a draw.

The inaugural Four Nations Championship match was played at St. Helen’s, Swansea, on December 16, 1882 and was contested by Wales and England. England scored four tries and three-quarter Arthur Evanson, an Oxford University student, successfully converted two of them, while Wales failed to score; thus, the final scoreline was a peculiar looking Wales 0-2 England.