It was always going to be the case that this year’s Guinness Six Nations would prove very difficult for Scotland, largely because, as always happens in ‘odd numbered’ years, we have to travel to Twickenham and Paris.

Having attended all four games in each of the Grand Slam years of 1984 and 1990, it looked to me back then as if we could only ever win Slams in ‘even numbered’ years because in those years we would face England and France at home – and before anybody points out that the other Grand Slam year was the ‘odd’ 1925, in that year we played Ireland and Wales away and England and France at home.

For decades from the 1960s, it was just impossible to think of Scotland winning in Paris, and it was 1995 before I saw it, while Twickenham was always our bogey stadium. Both hoodoos have been laid to rest in the 2020s. Now things are very different, and having beaten England away and Wales at Murrayfield, we now have the best chance in many years of winning the championship. But is that realistic?

I said at the outset that I think it will be either Ireland or France which wins the title, but with the fine form that Scotland have shown in the opening two matches, we are now in with a shout of winning the Six Nations for the first time since Italy joined in.

So can we beat France and set up what would surely be the title decider against Ireland at Murrayfield on March 12? Not knowing the starting 23s I am unable to make a definitive prediction but I would not be surprised if Scotland won or gained a draw because the world no.2 side is not perfect. As they showed against Ireland, they make mistakes and can get punished for them.

I am nevertheless a huge admirer of this current French squad and their head coach Fabien Galthie. Examining his record against Scotland since he took charge you find that we have played France four times and the score is 2-2. Indeed we handed him his first defeat in the job with that brilliant 28-17 win at Murrayfield in 2020. That even more extraordinary victory two years ago at the Stade de France was the only time France have lost in Paris under Galthie, who has changed the way France play since getting the top job after previously being assistant to Jacques Brunel.

The current squad is immense both in physical stature and sheer skill. In Antoine Dupont they have the best player and captain in the world, and the squad is replete with players of genuine world class in every division of the XV – prop Cyril Baille, hooker Julien Marchand, second rower Paul Willemse, flanker and former captain Charles Ollivon, number eight the great Gregory Alldritt, stand off Romain Ntamack, outside centre Gael Fickou, winger Damian Penaud and full-back Thomas Ramos who is in grand form. I would have included the hulking prop Uini Atonio but for the ban he received for what should have been a red card against Ireland – his likely replacement, Sipili Falatea, is a big chap, too.

Looking at all those names, the question should be why do we bother turning up on Sunday? Because we have a chance, that’s why.

In their first match of the current championship, France played merde against Italy in Rome yet still managed to eke out a bonus point victory – Galthie famously said he had been left with a ‘bitter taste’ after the game. How much more bitter, then, would the taste have been after France’s loss in that incredible game in Dublin.

I expect reigning Grand Slam champions France to bounce back fully on Sunday. They are at home in a country which expects France to win not just the Six Nations but the World Cup when it is played there later this year. And yet I still think Scotland have a chance of upsetting them.

Galthie is renowned as one of the best technical coaches in rugby union, and certainly he has become one of the best tacticians. That’s why I expect him to change tactics in Paris on Sunday, with a lot less long kicking – for who would want to kick long to Stuart Hogg or Duhan van der Merwe?

I expect France to rely on their big forwards to carry the ball forward before allowing Dupont and Ntamack to orchestrate things. That’s why our forwards will need to raise their game yet again, and I’d love to see Richie Gray et al trying to disrupt the French lineout – they don’t like that.

Though he played as a centre, referee Nika Amashukeli from Georgia has made himself something of an expert on scrummaging thanks to his mentor David McHugh of Ireland, so I do not expect that to be too contentious an area of play.

I do expect a terrific game, and if Scotland can maintain their discipline and believe in themselves, and if Finn Russell gets quick ball and decides to put on a show at home in Paris, then the underdogs might just triumph.