To win in Paris for only the second time in 40 years
ONE win in Paris since 1972 -- it is an appalling record.
Already there is much being made of the three-Test opportunity to finally register that elusive win against New Zealand in the summer. Amen to that, but first let us get our act together when travelling the short distance to Paris.
Munster broke the mould and Leinster followed suit in overcoming the massive psychological barrier that was French club rugby on home soil. Now we expect our Heineken Cup best to deliver on the European road almost every time.
But when it comes to Stade de France and the biennial Six Nations meeting, we appear locked in a time warp of fear. And the more often we lose, the worse it gets.
A convincing, winning performance today and who knows what may happen in Paris in eight days' time? Don't rule out the improbable.
We are in for four attritional weeks. The appeal of a win in Paris needs little elaboration, but first things first, and a respectable victory over the improving Italians would set us on our way.
Any other outcome doesn't bear thinking about.