Former England hooker BRIAN MOORE, writing in The Telegraph, says the importance of winning your opening Six Nations game cannot be overstated.
This weekend sees defending champions Wales host Italy in Cardiff, England travel to Paris to face France in the pick of the fixtures, and Ireland taking on Scotland in Dublin.
'Although each fixture is a distinct event, winning or losing has important consequences,' writes Moore. 'A loss puts inordinate pressure on a side, particularly its management, and there is pressure to alter selection and playing strategies. A win gives the relative luxury of continuity and enables the focus to be positive, as opposed to panic.
'Ireland and Wales will probably win their opening games but France or England will likely have to cope with the consequences of defeat.
'The only real positive of having such a difficult opening game for England is that if you have to play away against the French it is preferable to do so at the start of the tournament rather than the end, when better weather and greater cohesiveness gathered over the campaign make the task more difficult.'
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