Fixtures and venues for (almost) all of the 2017 Six Nations have now been announced.
It is over ten years since France won back-to-back titles
With only Scotland’s home games to be confirmed (it is expected that they will play their home games at Broadwood again), we now know the dates and venues for the 2017 Six Nations:
03/02/2017 Italy v Wales (Stadio Comunale Pacifico, Iesi)
03/02/2017 Scotland v Ireland (Broadwood Stadium, Cumbernauld)
04/02/2017 England v France (Twickenham)
10/02/2017 Wales v England (Cardiff Arms Park)
11/02/2017 France v Scotland (Marcel Deflandre, La Rochelle)
12/02/2017 Italy v Ireland (Stadio Tommaso Fattori, L'Aquila)
24/02/2017 Scotland v Wales (TBC)
25/02/2017 England v Italy (Twickenham Stoop)
26/02/2017 Ireland v France (Donnybrook)
11/03/2017 Wales v Ireland (Cardiff Arms Park)
11/03/2017 England v Scotland (Twickenham Stoop)
12/03/2017 Italy v France (Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma)
17/03/2017 Scotland v Italy (TBC)
17/03/2017 Ireland v England (Donnybrook)
18/03/2017 France v Wales (Amedee Domenech, Brive)
Of the three teams likely to be in the running for the title, odd numbered years significantly favour England, who have three home games (including France) and Ireland, who play England and France at home. Both of Ireland’s titles have come in odd-numbered years.
On the other hand, only one of France’s five titles have come in odd-numbered years as they have to travel to both London and Dublin, as well as Italy. That Italian fixture is often overlooked, but in recent years France have a significantly better record in England and Ireland than they have in Italy, where they have not won since 2011.
The introduction of bonus points will also have an effect, and may favour England who almost always score the most tries over the series. If bonus points had been in place last year and results had gone the same way the title would have gone to England instead of France.
But the decisive factor may be how England, France and Ireland balance their squads between the Six Nations and the World Series. Two round of the World Series clash with the 2017 Six Nations - Sydney (3-4 February) and Las Vegas (3-4 March).