The statistics do not lie – in every addition of the Five or Six Nations following a British Lions tour, during the professional era, France have lifted the most coveted trophy in European rugby.
Or do they? ‘Lies, damned lies, and statistics’ someone might mutter in response and they would be right. The 2014 Six Nations appears to be one of the most open yet.
Wales enter the tournament as defending champions, the bookies favourites and targeting a historic third consecutive title but the game across the border is being crippled by political in-fighting.
Whether that has an affect on what in truth is the most well-rounded team in the Championship remains to be seen but they will be missing a number of key players for the big kick-off, including in-form centre Jonathan Davies.
France are joint favourites for the crown and Le Crunch against England will be monumental to both sides’ quests for glory. Win and the power-packed French will be on a roll and still in possession of their notoriously fragile confidence.
But if Les Bleus lose, don’t be surprised if they implode. For England, a win would do wonders. With Wales and Ireland both to visit Twickenham they will be in a formidable position.
They have lacked fire-power in the past but with the likes of Jonny May, Jack Nowell and Luther Burrell in the backs and the emergence of the Vunipolas up front they certainly pack a punch.
The Round Two clash between Ireland and Wales will be of equal significance to events in Paris tomorrow. The Celtic duo will be favourites to kick-off their campaigns in style but the Dublin showdown promises to be of colossal proportions.
Ireland are still seething from the omission of Brian O’Driscoll for the third and decisive Test during the British and Irish Lions tour. Warren Gatland is public enemy number one for robbing the great centre of the crowning moment of his career but can he finish it with one final Six Nations swansong.
The men from the Emerald Island boast a side as settled as the Welsh and they have a chip on their shoulder which always serves them well.
As for Scotland and Italy, it is hard to look beyond the basement. They both caused their fair share of upsets last season but the big four appear far too formidable.