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“Le Crunch” Headlines Opening Weekend of 2017 Six Nations

This weekend sees the start of the RBS Six Nations and the whole world is talking about one game only, the match between England and France which is traditionally known as “Le Crunch”.

England hold the record for outright wins of the Home Nations, Five Nations and Six Nations tournaments, with 27 titles in total and Coach Eddie Jones would like to see his team extend this as well as their winning record under him when the tournament kicks off on Saturday at Twickenham.

The Rose have won all their matches since Jones arrived after their dismal 2015 Rugby World Cup campaign and a perfect defence of their 2016 title would see the men in white extend their winning streak to 19 games and smash New Zealand’s record of 18 successive tier-one victories.

If England can master this feat they will also become the first England side to claim back-to-back Grand Slams since 1992.

The head-to-head count does not make for good reading if you were to be a French supporter, but many pundits are expecting a rare upset at the home of English rugby this coming weekend due to Jones missing a number of key players due to injuries as their main reason.

The question though, as has become the norm since their last taste of silverware in 2010 – and 2017 is no exception. Which France team will turn up?

If international rugby’s most recent form guide is anything to go by then we are in to see a French squad that appear to be making great strides under head coach Guy Noves. Their recent narrow losses to Australia and New Zealand displayed sustained performance levels of high quality rugby.

It is very possible that France could find themselves on a slippery slope early on in the tournament if things don’t go their way at Twickenham this weekend.

Players to keep in mind when the tournament gets underway are Alex Lozowski and Gael Fickou.

Eddie Jones called up Saracens fullback, Alex Lozowski who impressed at fly-half during Owen Farrell’s absence at the start of the season. The youngster also outlined his versatility with some jaw-dropping displays at fullback with his fine kicking game, soft hands and runs some fantastic attacking lines. Given the chance he could fire up the tournament to another level.

The French are without Wesley Fofana for the whole tournament, which has given Gael Fickou chance to stake his claim for a regular place in the national setup. In his fifth outing for Les Bleus in the Six Nations, the Toulouse centre is only 22 and already a relatively seasoned campaigner.

Looking at the odds for winning this year’s Six Nations are as follow and it’s no surprise to see England at the top.

England – 3/4, Grand Slam 2/1

Ireland – 5/2, Grand Slam 11/2

Wales – 6/1, Grand Slam 14/1

France – 10/1, Grand Slam 33/1

Scotland – 16/1, Grand Slam 66/1

Italy – 500/1, Grand Slam 2000/1

In the two sides’ last meeting England were far from perfect in Paris a year ago but did enough to seal it with a 31-21 victory.

England v France betting odds are ranging at 1/7 for the All Whites and around 9/2 for Les Bleus to win this encounter.

It will be difficult to bet against the current title holders but don’t be surprised if the French arrive!

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