The 2017 Six Nations championship will get underway this weekend in what is potentially the toughest competition to call in years.
With the British Lions' tour of New Zealand on the horizon, the home nations seem to have upped their game over the past twelve months.
England can break their national record for consecutive wins if they beat France at Twickenham on Saturday. Their 37-21 win over Australia at the end of last year was their 14th straight win, equalling the record set by Clive Woodward's World Cup winning squad back in 2002/03.
Incidentally Eddie Jones' side are now just four games short of New Zealand's world record, another Grand Slam will be enough to surpass that record.
The All Blacks recorded 18 consecutive wins between August 2015 and October 2016 before that run came to abrupt end as Ireland recorded a famous 40-29 victory in Chicago, a first ever Irish win against New Zealand.
Like England, Ireland enjoyed a memorable 2016 as they completed a clean sweep of wins of the Southern Hemisphere 'big three'. Their historic win against New Zealand coming either side of wins against giants South Africa and Australia.
Wales also claimed a major scalp as they defeated South Africa in their final match of mixed 2016. The Welsh narrowly lost out on a Six Nations title after losing 25-21 to England at Twickenham. England raced into a 19-0 lead before Wales almost completed the greatest comeback in Six Nations' history.
A much-improved Scottish side have much to be encouraged by in 2016. Although the record books will show they lost four out of their ten games, that only tells half the story. Their 23-22 loss to Australia, despite leading 22-16 with just six minutes to go was typical of their luck in 2016. Their three Six Nations losses were all by a small margin, losing by six points to England, four points to Wales and by ten points to Ireland – twelve of Ireland's points were scored whilst Scotland had a man in the sinbin.
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