Saturday, 4 Feb 2017 : Over the next seven weeks the northern hemisphere showpiece, which features England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy, will see the cream of European rugby meet across five rounds, culminating in the final set of games on 18 March.
Scotland play Ireland in the tournament’s opening match in Edinburgh at 14:25 GMT, before defending champions England host France at Twickenham at 16:50 GMT, while Wales play Italy at 14:00 on Sunday in Rome.
Last year’s tournament attracted an average 72,000 fans a game, leading sport’s global standings above American football’s NFL in second and the Fifa World Cup in third – according to statistics published by European football body Uefa.
Event Average attendance per match
England secured the 2016 title with a perfect record of five wins from their five games, earning them the Grand Slam.
They are the bookies’ favourites to win again but an Ireland team that claimed a famous win over world champions New Zealand in Chicago in November are serious contenders to regain the title they won in 2014 and 2015.
Wales are without head coach Warren Gatland – who has stepped away from his role for a year to coach the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand in the summer – but interim replacement Rob Howley leads a team that includes the likes of barnstorming wing George North.
Scotland come into the tournament buoyed by the domestic success of a Glasgow Warriors side currently fourth in the Pro12 and into the last eight of the top-tier European Champions Cup.
France and Italy are both under relatively new leadership, with Guy Noves and Conor O’Shea taking over in January and June 2016 respectively, but the former showed signs of their old form in an improved showing in the autumn Tests, while O’Shea was the mastermind behind Harlequins’ 2012 Premiership title.
And in a competition that saw England captain Bill Beaumont carried shoulder-high from the pitch in 1980, David Sole’s slow walk onto the Murrayfield turf in 1990, Scott Gibbs carving through the England defence at Wembley in 1999 or a fresh-faced Brian O’Driscoll’s hat-trick against France in 2000, there is every prospect of new heroes being made.
Source By: Internet