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THE 2018 Women's Six Nations will be a huge event with every match broadcast on television again this year, in what is set to be one of the most fiercely-contested Championships ever.
2017 was a vintage year for England's Red Roses, who recorded a Grand Slam to take the title in impressive style, their first since 2012. But plenty of water has passed under the bridge since then, with a sensational Women's Rugby World Cup last summer and plenty of chopping and changing of the guard following that tournament.
Last year's Championship was a thrilling spectacle and 2017 saw a huge increase in interest in the women's game, meaning that this year's Championship will be more widely available than ever, with matches shown live on TV or streamed online.
The Red Roses will do their utmost to retain their title and could be benefitted by an overhaul of their domestic league, with the inaugural Tyrrells Premier 15s season leading to talents like winger Jess Breach being added to the squad.
But England captain Sarah Hunter is expecting tough competition: "The other nations will raise their game. Every time we come into a competition, teams will raise their game.
"The preparation all the teams have made have been far beyond what it has been before, we know it will be a fierce competition but we're excited. It's one of the biggest competitions in rugby, so we want to take the women's game to a new level."
Second in the Championship last year, Ireland only missed out on a Grand Slam due to a dramatic last-round defeat to England at Donnybrook, and will be determined to exact revenge in 2018.
After missing much of 2017, former captain Niamh Briggs is back in the fold and will be key, as will newly-appointed skipper Ciara Griffin.
"Preparations are going well," said No.8 Griffin. "There's nine new girls in the squad and ten clubs represented, so it's good for Irish rugby. The new girls are slotting in well, so it's very exciting."
France also enjoyed a good Championship last year, finishing third with 16 points, but will be desperate to get their hands on the title once again, having lifted it in 2014 and 2016.
Supporters can look forward to the first-ever Women's Six Nations game to be played in Bastia, Corsica, which will host the third round match against Italy.
France captain Gaelle Hermet said: "It was a boost to do well at the World Cup because it gave us confidence. But it was also a frustration as we really wanted to win it - we really want to win the Six Nations this year."
Scotland get the honour of kicking of this year's Championship but start it with a tricky Friday-night trip to take on Wales at Colwyn Bay's Parc Eirias, with captain Lisa Martin clearly excited.
"We're massively on the up just now," said Martin. "The two wins last year were a massive boost for the girls. It's what we need to push on from, not look back on. We've had a good pre-season and we need to kick on and make this Six Nations as successful as the last one. It's a fantastic and exciting time to be part of Scottish Rugby and long may the rise continue."
Meanwhile, it's been a season of change for Wales, with Rowland Phillips including ten uncapped players in his squad for the Championship and skipper Carys Phillips excited by the potential of youth.
"It's a good opportunity to get these youngsters in," said the captain. "We've got ten new ones which is good to see. It's good to get so many youngsters in the squad ahead of the World Cup. The future is excellent and it's a very exciting time."
Italy had a difficult campaign in 2017 but have plenty of causes for optimism deriving from their World Cup wins over Spain and Japan, and the partnership between exciting young fly-half Beatrice Rigoni and scrum-half Sara Barattin, who also captains the side.
"This year we are better prepared," said Barattin. "We played games in November and have been in camp twice. We have had more time together and the results will come."