Despite the fact they hosted the tournament a decade ago, France are very serious about hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2023, and they used today's Six Nations clash with Scotland in Paris to show off exactly how serious they are.
Ireland have been the bookies' favourites to host the tournament for months now, ever since Argentina dropped out to leave France and South Africa as our main competitors to host rugby's quadrennial showpiece. Ireland were considered favourties as both of these nations have hosted the competition in the past (South Africa in 1995; France in 2007). Furthermore, doubts were raised about the South African bid, as the government threatened to pull support if the Springboks failed to meet transformation requirements.
In the last few weeks, however, the threat of the French bid has been building. Last month, Midi Olimpique reported that France are "intensifying" their efforts to win the bid. Midi Olimpique's English translator, the France-based Gavin Mortimer, tells us that Bernard Laporte - the former France and Toulon coach was appointed FRF President last year - has been dining with Billy Beaumont, new sponsors have been secured, and the bid will be built around the attractiveness of Paris.
The French Federation reinforced how serious they are about hosting the tournament in Paris this afternoon. Having already targeted the power-brokers, today they set about mobilising the fans. The French jersey bore #France2023 on the front.
#France2023 also adorned the advertising hoardings around the pitch.
No doubt that the Irish bid team are working as hard as they can, but it's a timely reminder that we have our work cut out.