Six Nations outright predictions: Ireland to take first title since 2018
- France are the defending champions after winning the Grand Slam in 2022
- Ireland are the world's top-ranked side
- Recommended bet: Ireland to win
The 24th edition of the Six Nations gets underway on Saturday and the annual Championship allows the teams to further hone their plans ahead of the World Cup later this year.
France host that tournament and are the defending champions of this one after winning all five of their Six Nations matches last year to claim the Grand Slam.
Les Bleus head into the tournament on a 13-match winning streak but a key injury means they may have to adapt their gameplan and with the champions facing a tough trip to Dublin, Ireland look like the side to beat.
Ireland are ranked number one in the world but need to add silverware to their sparkling play, having not won the Six Nations since 2018.
Andy Farrell has built real depth into his squad since taking charge following the Irish's poor showing at the last World Cup and they come into the tournament having beaten both South Africa and Australia in the autumn.
The absence of captain Johnny Sexton for spells of that campaign will have only boosted the confidence within the camp and the skipper is back to guide the team into the spring.
Ireland's first two games will likely define their campaign as they open up against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday, February 11, before hosting France.
A middle weekend trip to Italy should not pose any issues, while they have lost just once away to Scotland since 2013.
Farrell's side then face his son Owen and England on 'Super Saturday' but having won at Twickenham in 2022, they will not fear the Red Rose on home soil.
The ingredients are there for Ireland to win the Championship, and maybe even the Grand Slam.
In-form France still have questions to answer
That second weekend showdown against France has the potential to decide who wins the Six Nations and Les Bleus are fresh off an unbeaten year in 2022.
They have now won their last 13 Test matches and have a fabulous squad to select from. However, centre Jonathan Danty's absence for the entire tournament through a knee injury has robbed Fabien Galthie of his best midfield ball carrier.
Punching holes in the opposition defence have been a big part of France's tactics under Galthie and they have previously struggled when attempting to move away from that direct style.
There were also a few nervy moments in last season's Six Nations and while Thomas Ramos' inclusion at fullback during the autumn provided an additional ball player, the balance of their back-line still needs work.
Trips to Dublin and Twickenham make life tough for France and they will need to be at their very best to defend their title.
England and Wales in transition
Both England and Wales begin life under new regimes. Steve Borthwick has taken over the former but will be without Courtney Lawes and Tom Curry in his pack.
Meanwhile, Warren Gatland is back in the Wales hotseat and is likely to return to his previously successful 'Warrenball' tactics as he bids to get the team back on track after their struggles under Wayne Pivac.
Scotland have Finn Russell back in their side but need to be more consistent under Gregor Townsend, while despite ending their 36-match winless run last year, as well as defeating Australia in the autumn, Italy may struggle.
Ireland and France are the standout teams in the Six Nations and their Round Two meeting might be the fixture that determines the tournament's outcome.
France have won in Dublin just once since 2011 and there is a feeling that Ireland are the real force in world rugby.
Whether they can maintain their momentum heading into the World Cup might be another issue but they should be the kings of the spring for the first time since 2018, with a Grand Slam a real possibility at 3/1.