Home is traditionally where the heart is in the Guinness Six Nations but Gregor Townsend knows that Scotland need to end their away-day blues if they are to contend for the title this year.
Scotland are unbeaten at BT Murrayfield since 2016 in the Championship and overhauled both England and France in Edinburgh last season, while the fixture list is on their side this year with Scotland hosting three matches against Italy, Ireland and Wales
However, if they are to improve on last season’s third place finish then Townsend knows they must claim at least one win from two traditionally tough venues.
Scotland visit Paris and France during Round 3, a place they have not won at since 1999, while their winless record at Twickenham is even longer – stretching back to 1983.
Scotland’s clash with England in London could well turn out to be a Championship decider if all works out.
“Winning any game in the Six Nations is difficult and we have historically not been good away,” he said.
“We had a record win in Argentina in the summer so that was a positive but we have not played so well when we have gone in as favourites, whether that is home or away.
“We have had games where we have risen to the challenge, like Ireland last year. But in the last three years everyone has struggled away because everyone is so strong. If you win away from home, you have a good chance of doing very well.
“I feel every year is the right year for Scotland, whether as a player or coach. We have two away games against teams we have not won at in a number of years.
“Paris and Twickenham are very tough places to go.”
Before Townsend can start thinking about trips to Paris and London, he first has to mastermind victory against an Italian side who have historically performed well against them.
Conor O’Shea and his Azzurri side travel to BT Murrayfield in Round 1 and Townsend is seeking a far better performance than they delivered in their first game a year ago – where they stumbled to a disappointing defeat to Wales.
“Last year we felt our game was in a good position but we did not deliver in the first game,” Townsend added.
“The confidence from what we are doing at club level should put us in a good position but we need to transform that into a good performance against Italy.
“Winning your first game is the best way to start. We have lost a number of times to Italy at BT Murrayfield and we should have lost there last year. They are a very tough team and Scotland sides historically have struggled.
“Expectations will be high but we know we have a very tough game against Italy. If we come through that, then we will look forward.”