This weekend will be one of the most exciting on the rugby calendar.
This year’s Six Nations Championship gets under way.
It’s the women who get proceedings going on Friday night.
They’ve a clash between England and Scotland, and the men’s competition kicks off on Saturday afternoon with France playing Italy.
England will also play Scotland at Murrayfield, and on Sunday Ireland and Wales will round things off on the first weekend of the contest in Dublin.
Ireland took the double last year winning both the men’s and women’s competition, and both teams are keen to defend their titles.
RBS 6 Nations (@rbs_6_nations) February 01, 2016
There are smaller competitions within the Six Nations tournament like the Calcutta Cup, which will be awarded to the winner of the England v Scotland game on Saturday.
Scotland have not beaten England since 2008.
England coach Eddie Jones has withdrawn his earlier admission that Scotland are the favourites for Saturday.
Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw remained unfazed by the comments today, preferring to focus on the job at hand rather than who the bookies might be backing.
The more talking he does about us, hopefully the less he’s concentrating on England.
It will be a close game between Ireland and Wales, with the winning side gaining much from an early win in the competition.
The Six Nations is often referred to as a contest of momentum- with the winning side building up to the final and not peaking too soon- so it is crucial that both sides bare this in mind for such a tough first match.
Emma Roberts shares an overview on how the men of the home nation sides are shaping up:
An honour and privilege to be leading @EnglandRugby into this coming 6 Nations tournament. Truly humbled by your messages of support 🌹—
Dylan Hartley (@DylanHartley) January 25, 2016
Ulster's Tommy Bowe (knee) and Iain Henderson (hamstring) have both been ruled out of the Six Nations with injury https://t.co/sUs7vTTvLa—
Rugby World (@Rugbyworldmag) January 06, 2016
France & Italy
Italy have ten uncapped players in their Six Nations line up, which is a questionable move for a team which struggle in this tournament.
Italy have never finished higher than fourth, and only narrowly missed last place in 2015 with a penalty try in the final minute of their game against Scotland.
This said, having talented captain Sergio Parisse back after injury will really add to the squad’s confidence.
Some things come, some things go, but Sergio Parisse at a Six Nations launch is one of life's constants.—
Simon Thomas (@simonrug) January 27, 2016
With many experienced players such as Thierry Dusautoir, Pascal Papé, and Nicolas Mas retiring from French rugby, the pressure is on new skipper Guilhem Guirado to lead his young side.
But like Italy, perhaps this will be the year that new players blossom and make their mark on the team.
Planet Rugby (@PlanetRugby) January 31, 2016
Good luck for the six nations bro, glad I don't have to try and tackle you! twitter.com/vvakatawa/stat…—
Sonny Bill Williams (@SonnyBWilliams) January 29, 2016