All things — good and bad — come to an end. So it was, on the first Saturday in April, six days after they had defeated Racing 92 in the Champions Cup quarter-final, by a single point and with 14 players, Toulouse’s record-breaking unbeaten domestic run finally hit the rocks, against Toulon.
Ireland flew into Edinburgh last night with what head coach Joe Schmidt described as a “quiet confidence” that the players he will send into the RBS 6 Nations fray at Murrayfield tomorrow can ignore the hype surrounding Scotland and continue their winning ways.
RBS Six Nations: France v Scotland: The start of a new Six Nations campaign is usually destined to throw Frenchmen of every age, shape and political persuasion into a tizzy. As former captain Fabien Pelous once said: "It is like the start of a new romance. You see a girl across the room, your eyes meet and you both know that everything is possible."
A fractured arm may have sidelined Paul O’Connell from the rest of the Test series with Australia, his place in the second row for Saturday’s second Test going to England’s Geoff Parling, but the British & Irish Lions are desperate to keep their former captain on tour, so important to them is his presence as a leader and mentor.
This morning’s game against the Western Force in Perth will offer the British and Irish Lions management a far greater barometer of what to expect over the next few weeks than the testing but ultimately one-sided game against the Barbarians in Hong Kong last Saturday.