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Six Nations 2017: Scotland to provide early test of Ireland’s favourites tag

• Loss of Sexton a big blow to Joe Schmidt’s side at Murrayfield
• Joe Schmidt urges Ireland to move on from highs of autumn

This is the match that has crept up on us as the connoisseur’s highlight of the opening weekend. If we are on the verge of the most competitive Six Nations in recent years – and there is every reason to believe we are, even if we have said that of many of the recent editions – Scotland against Ireland at Murrayfield is just the sort of fixture by which to judge such a claim.

The surge in Scottish fortunes, spear-headed by Glasgow, has been well documented. Having beaten France, with some confidence, for the first time in 10 years last season, they now need another scalp – and Ireland’s at home is non-negotiable if we are to take them seriously.

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