SIX NATIONS 2016
|Sat 06-Feb||14:25 BBC||FRANCE v ITALY||Stade de France|
|Sat 06-Feb||16:50 BBC||SCOTLAND v ENGLAND||Murrayfield|
|Sun 07-Feb||15:00 ITV||IRELAND v WALES||Aviva Stadium|
|Sat 13-Feb||14:25 BBC||FRANCE v IRELAND||Stade de France|
|Sat 13-Feb||16:50 BBC||WALES v SCOTLAND||Millennium Stadium|
|Sun 14-Feb||14:00 ITV||ITALY v ENGLAND||Stadio Olimpico|
|Fri 26-Feb||20:05 BBC||WALES v FRANCE||Millennium Stadium|
|Sat 27-Feb||14:25 ITV||ITALY v SCOTLAND||Stadio Olimpico|
|Sat 27-Feb||16:50 ITV||ENGLAND v IRELAND||Twickenham|
|Sat 12-Mar||13:30 ITV||IRELAND v ITALY||Aviva Stadium|
|Sat 12-Mar||16:00 ITV||ENGLAND v WALES||Twickenham|
|Sun 13-Mar||15:00 BBC||SCOTLAND v FRANCE||Murrayfield|
|Sat 19-Mar||14:30 BBC||WALES v ITALY||Millennium Stadium|
|Sat 19-Mar||17:00 ITV||IRELAND v SCOTLAND||Aviva Stadium|
|Sat 19-Mar||20:00 BBC||FRANCE v ENGLAND||Stade de France|
BOTH BBC and ITV will broadcast this year's Six Nations Championship in a £300m deal which runs until 2021.
The BBC - which has had exclusive rights since 2003 - brokered the arrangement as part of a cost-saving exercise in which its sport department has been asked to cut £35m from its budget.
At least this way all of the tournament remains on free-to-air television. The BBC will show the home matches of Scotland, Wales and France - while ITV takes charge of England, Ireland and Italy home games.
The way that the fixtures are laid out actually works out well for the BBC this year. It will show two matches on the opening day - including Scotland v England - and two of the three matches on the final matchday, including France v England.
As usual, much of the attention in the build-up has been on England - but perhaps, this year, that is even more so the case.
For, England have a new head coach - the Australian Eddie Jones - as they seek to repair their tattered reputation after a disastrous home World Cup.
Jones, of course, had a totally different World Cup experience with Japan. The Cherry Blossoms caused one of the biggest sporting shocks of all time by beating the two-time winners South Africa in the Pool stages, and England have appointed their new man expecting similar inspiration.
Nevertheless, there has been caution aired ahead of the Calcutta Cup clash with Scotland on the first day - with Jones even declaring the resurgent Scots to be favourites, given their home advantage.
That is still not something with which the bookmakers agree - and it is true that Scotland must turn the tide of recent history to be successful this spring.
Scotland have never won the Six Nations title - they have, though, collected four wooden spoons since Italy were introduced in 2000, and finished bottom last year.
But, after that, they recovered gamely, recording a series of comeback wins in the Pool stages of the World Cup before a heartbreaking and controversial defeat to Australia in the quarter finals.
Indeed, the first Six Nations after a World Cup is often seen in the context of the latter - and this year will be no different.
For Wales, this is good news. Also subject to a heartbreaking late defeat to a southern hemisphere superpower - in their case South Africa - the Welsh nonetheless produced some stirring displays and memorably beat England at Twickenham.
They can be proud of their World Cup efforts - and, certainly, the re-match against England on 12 March, again at Twickenham, should hold no fears.
Meanwhile, Ireland - who have won the last two Six Nations titles, and often in some style - are in a state of flux following their wholly unexpected defeat to Argentina in the World Cup quarters.
Former captain Paul O'Connell has joined the totemic Brian O'Driscoll in retirement and this leaves a lot of pressure on fly-half Jonny Sexton as the clearest link back to one of Ireland's greatest teams.
Indeed, the first match for the Irish - against a more settled Wales team in Dublin - promises to be the most enthralling fixture of this first weekend, even accounting for the Calcutta Cup contest.
Six Nations campaigns cannot be decided in one game - but that tête-à-tête in Dublin may nevertheless go a long way to determining the fate of those two teams this year.
For now, surprisingly, England have been classified as favourites with the money men - despite their awful World Cup and despite the fact that they have finished runners-up for the last four years.
And, while it is a new era for English rugby, it would be no surprise if they extended that record to a fifth year in finishing behind the Welsh.
Scotland will improve but Ireland will still sneak third place ahead of them by winning the match between the two teams in Dublin on the final day.
Finally, the two continentals - France and Italy - will just be there to make up the numbers, a damning indictment on the French, whose World Cup campaign was ultimately little better than that of England.
It would be no surprise, of course, if these predictions are completely wrong - but the fun part is watching and seeing what happens - on two television channels this year.
TEAM-BY-TEAM GUIDE Odds from Ladbrokes
|ENGLAND Odds 13/8 fav ||Coach Eddie Jones Captain Dylan Hartley|
|Twickenham||Fixtures Scotland (A), Italy (A), Ireland (H), Wales (H), France (A)|
|IRB Rank: 8||Six Nations titles 4 (2000, 2001, 2003, 2011)|
|FRANCE Odds 6/1||Coach Guy Novès Captain Guilhem Guirado|
|Stade de France||Fixtures Italy (H), Ireland (H), Wales (A), Scotland (A), England (H)|
|IRB Rank: 7||Six Nations titles 5 (2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010)|
|IRELAND Odds 9/2||Coach Joe Schmidt Captain Rory Best|
|Aviva Stadium||Fixtures Wales (H), France (A), England (A), Italy (H), Scotland (H)|
|IRB Rank: 6||Six Nations titles 3 (2009, 2014, 2015)|
|ITALY Odds 500/1||Coach Jacques Brunel Captain Sergio Parisse|
|Stadio Olimpico||Fixtures France (A), England (H), Scotland (H), Ireland (A), Wales (A)|
|IRB Rank: 12||Six Nations titles None|
|SCOTLAND Odds 14/1||Coach Vern Cotter Captain Greig Laidlaw|
|Murrayfield||Fixtures England (H), Wales (A), Italy (A), France (H), Ireland (A)|
|IRB Rank: 9||Six Nations titles None|
|WALES Odds 9/4||Coach Warren Gatland Captain Sam Warburton|
|Millennium Stadium||Fixtures Ireland (A), Scotland (H), France (H), England (A), Italy (H)|
|IRB Rank: 4||Six Nations titles 4 (2005, 2008, 2012, 2013)|
RBS SIX NATIONS 2015 TABLE