After two exciting weeks of rugby, France sit top of the Six Nations table and so far look like future champions in this year’s competition.
Before the start of the tournament, they were established as favourites, in part because they play three out of five matches at home.
So what’s stopping them from completing a seemingly inevitable Grand Slam?
I don’t know and neither do you, but for my part, I’m certainly not canceling the tournament just yet – certainty is a dangerous thing, unless you back Italy for the wooden spoon.
Despite a disheartening 20-17 loss to Scotland in the first round 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.
With the Blues faced with the daunting task of playing back-to-back away fixtures in the coming weeks, England will be hoping to enforce their home advantage by hosting Wales and Ireland at Twickenham.
And with France facing trips to Edinburgh and Cardiff, England will be hoping to delay any celebration of the French title until their final encounter in Paris.
It’s clear that the Six Nations can feel very different at home, especially as the crowds are now back.
According to Research Gate, of the 120 Six Nations games played between 2000 and 2007, there was found to be a significant home advantage in 61% of games.
In this case, home advantage was defined as the number of points scored by teams playing at home, converted to a percentage of all points won playing home or away.
Moreover, 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 of the 11 times a Grand Slam has been won, seven of them have been won by a team with home advantage (63.6%).
All of these statistics demonstrate the importance of home advantage in the tournament, regardless of the quality of the opponent.
With home advantage on their side, the signs bode ill for France’s latest opponents.
But England, along with Ireland, Wales and Scotland, will all be confident of imposing their will in the next three rounds of matches.