Did you know?
? Although France have become one of the dominant sides in recent Six and Five Nations history, they enjoyed some less than distinguished days in the tournament. In their first four years of entry, the French won just one game – a one-point victory over Scotland in 1911.
? In 1931, France were forced to withdraw from the competition after it emerged that some of their players had been paid; later that decade, they endured allegations that some of their players had stiletto knives hidden in their socks!
? In 1972, the championship could not be completed after Scotland and Wales refused to play in Dublin because of the escalating political problems.
? 2009 saw the first Friday night game in the tournament, when France beat Wales 21-16 in Paris.
? Les Bleus centre Mathieu Bastareaud is a cousin of Arsenal defender William Gallas.
? 9 – the highest number of consecutive Six Nations games without defeat that any team has managed, with France and England jointly holding the record.
? Although the notion of the Triple Crown is as old as the tournament itself, the Plate now presented to the winners has only been in use since 2006, with Ireland the first recipients.
? Ireland and France have the best record in the Six Nations since it began in 2000, each winning 36 out of 50 matches so far. However, in that period, the French have managed four championships to Ireland’s one, as well as two Grand Slams to Ireland’s solitary triumph last year.
? France have gone the longest without winning a championship – they went winless for the 24 Five Nations that were held between 1910 and 1953. Wales have the best record in this regard, with their 2004 win bringing to an end a wait of just ten competitions for outright success.
? Italy have lost 43 of their 50 Six Nations matches.
? England won three of the first four Six Nations titles, but they last lifted the trophy in 2003.
? Wales have drawn more Six Nations games – two – than any other country.
? Only Scotland and Italy have not won Six Nations Grand Slams.
? Three countries – Wales, Scotland and Italy – have a Six Nations successrate of less than 50pc.
? Italy have finished bottom of the Six Nations seven times in 10 seasons.
? England have scored the most Six Nations tries – 169 from 50 games – while Scotland prop up the try table with just 61.
? Wales have lost just two of their 10 Six Nations games played under head coach Warren Gatland.
? Ireland will this season bid to become the first country to win back to-back Grand Slams in Six Nations history.