The Autumn internationals are over and the post-mortems have begun on the Northern Hemisphere teams.
Did Ireland reveal a fundamental character flaw when they threw away a lead against New Zealand?
Will Wales make it an historic unprecedented three titles in a row?
Can England step it up from an encouraging autumn series?
Rugby Union fans will spend many an hour debating these questions in the lead up to the 2014 Six Nations in February.
I would contend that these Autumn internationals and performances will have almost no effect on the outcome of the Six Nations Championship.
More likely than not, the outcome of the Six Nations has already been decided six months previously and thousands of miles away from the playing fields of Twickenham, Cardiff and Dublin. The outcome of the Six Nations has most likely been determined in Australia.
Throughout the months of June and July the English and Celtic players undertook a gruelling tour of the Land Down Under playing three Tests against Australia and seven other tour games.
Ultimately, the Lions won a momentous victory defeating the Wallabies 2-1. No doubt the victorious Lions will rightly look back in pride at their summer work.
Equally, however, there can be no doubt that the tour will have taken something out of them.
By contrast the French players will have had the summer to rest up and prepare. History suggests that this gentle preparation will give them a decisive advantage.
In the Six Nations directly after the Lions tours of 2010, 2006 and 2002 Les Blues have won the the Championship each time clinching the much sought after holy grail of the Grand Slam twice. The chances are they will do the same again in 2014.
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