After two absorbing weeks of rugby, France sit atop the Six Nations table, and so far, they look every bit of soon-to-be champions in this year’s competition.
Prior to the tournament’s beginning they were established as favourites, partially because they play three out of five fixtures at home.
So what’s to stop them from completing a seemingly inevitable Grand Slam?
I don’t know and nor do you, but I for one am certainly not writing the tournament off just yet – certainty is a dangerous thing, that is unless you’re backing Italy for the Wooden Spoon.
Despite a disheartening 20-17 loss against Scotland in round one of the Six Nations, England bounced back with a convincing 33-0 win over Italy in Rome on Sunday, jumping to second place in the standings after two games played.
While Les Bleus have the gruelling task of back-to-back away fixtures in the coming weeks, England will hope to make their home advantage count as they welcome Wales and Ireland to Twickenham.
And with France facing trips to Edinburgh and Cardiff, England will be hoping they can delay any French title celebrations until their final round encounter in Paris.
It is clear that the Six Nations can feel very different on home soil, especially as crowds have now returned.
According to Research Gate, of the 120 Six Nations games played between 2000 and 2007, there was found to be significant home advantage in a whopping 61% of matches.
In this instance, home advantage was defined as the number of points scored by teams playing at home, converted into a percentage of all points gained when playing either at home or away.
Furthermore, according to The Stats Zone, of the 16 Six Nations Championships played between 2000 and 2016, 62.5% were won by a team with home advantage.
And on the 11 occasions a Grand Slam has been won, seven of these have been claimed by a side with home advantage (63.6%).
All of these statistics demonstrate the significance of home advantage in the tournament, regardless of an opposition’s quality.
With home advantage on their side, the signs are ominous for France’s remaining opponents.
But England, along with Ireland, Wales and Scotland, will all be confident of imposing their will on the next three rounds of matches.