Computer says yes
The bookies may be saying England, but a computer believes Ireland will make it three in a row.
QBE, the business insurance firm that backs England in the November international series at Twickenham, created a computer model for the Six Nations based on a complex mathematical formula created by a team of experts whose day job is predicting the impact of catastrophes, such as floods.
The model simulated the tournament 10,000 times, producing outcomes from 150,000 matches, and gave Ireland a 35pc chance of winning the tournament ahead of England on 30, France on 17, Wales on 11, Scotland on 4 and Italy given absolutely no chance.
Ireland were 20pc to win the Triple Crown, while England's chances of getting the Eddie Jones (above) era off to a winning start at Murrayfield tomorrow are 70pc.
QBE says its rugby predictor has an 83pc success rate, correctly predicting the outcome of 38 of the 48 matches in the World Cup and New Zealand's success. The predicted results would leave Ireland and England on eight points with Ireland champions because of their superior points difference. Bonus points? The computer, like the Six Nations Committee, did not go there.
Emotional return to Stade de France
Ireland fans plotting a St Valentine's visit to Paris next weekend will be watching closely as the Stade de France opens its doors for a sporting event for the first time since the venue was a target of the terrorist attack on November 13.
The visit of Italy to St Denis tomorrow will see a massive security operation with snipers and sniffer dogs being deployed and an increased police presence on the ground on what could be a nervy occasion.
Quote of the day
"I sincerely don't want to talk about the past failures. We will win and lose, there will be ups and downs, disappointments. What matters is not what happened yesterday. Our oldest player is 30, this squad is built toward the future."
- France coach Guy Noves is not a man for backwards glances.
Number of the day
3 Tom Tierney has named three new faces in his matchday 23 for the opening game of Ireland women's Six Nations defence, with winger Elise O'Byrne-White and hooker Zoe Grattage starting and Tralee's Ciara Griffin on the bench.
Compiled by David Kelly
and Ruaidhri O'Connor
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