auld alliance 1
"Playing France is like trying to hold a box of frogs. You don't know which way they're going to jump."

So said former Scotland fly-half John Rutherford, and he should know: the outcome of every match he played against France in the Championship was difficult to foresee, including as it did four wins, four losses and a draw. 

The roots of this fixture can be traced back to the original tournament's inception, while the connections between the two nations go back even further to 1295 and the 'Auld Alliance' (the name given to the trophy the winner of this fixture will receive). Recent Championship history also suggests that Scotland need to play out of their skin today to overcome a France team smarting from a loss. 

In the last 20 meetings, Scotland have won six times. It may seem lopsided, but now when you consider that those six victories have come over the course of the past seven years - and four of them were in Edinburgh. The points difference during this time has been a mere 6.5 on average, which suggests the team with the best kicker - or better yet, the best discipline - has tended to edge these encounters. 

"The rivalry between Scotland and France runs deep, fuelled by a shared desire for supremacy on the rugby field," remarked another Scottish rugby icon, Gavin Hastings. The fixture has given us some of the most memorable moments in the Championship's history, and today at Murrayfield it is the hosts who sit on a win in round one, while France are hurting from their loss to Ireland.

Living long in the memory is the dramatic 1999 match where Scotland snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a last-minute try, leaving travelling Scottish fans spellbound and French hearts shattered. "It was a moment of sheer ecstasy, one that will forever be etched in my memory," recalls today's Scotland head coach, Gregor Townsend. That year, he produced the remarkable feat of scoring a try in every match of the Championship.

One of Townsend's successors in the Scotland fly-half jersey, Finn Russell, today has the job of unlocking a French defence that was reduced to 14 men against Ireland. Russell knows the French game well from his time at Racing 92, and would love nothing more than to get one over on old teammates such as Gaël Fickou and Nolann Le Garrec.

For France, defeat would be unthinkable after the giddy heights they've reached these past two years. That makes the latest chapter of this fixture all the more suspenseful.

Scotland v France, 14:15, Scottish Gas Murrayfield (live on BBC)