When the Scotland Rugby Union team won 12-22 at Twickenham in the 1983 Five Nations, in what was basically a Wooden Spoon play-off match, little did they think they would still be waiting such a long time for their next win at the home of English Rugby. In 16 visits since, 15 defeats have followed with their best result being a draw in 1989. To be fair, especially in recent years, they have come more in trepidation than expectation, however when they visit South West London this Saturday, they will be full of confidence.
SCOTLAND ON THE UP
Funnily enough Scotland nearly broke their Twickenham hoodoo in the 2015 World Cup when a controversial last gasp penalty from Australia cost them a place in the semi-finals. However since then they have continued with an attacking brand of rugby which is now paying off with excellent home wins in this years Six Nations over Ireland and Wales scoring 7 tries over their three matches so far, which is in stark contrast to recent years. Even during their defeat against the French, they fashioned 2 five pointers despite being under pressure for the majority of the game. Under Vern Cotter they have developed into a very competent rugby team and currently stand 5th in the IRB World Rankings, their highest ever position.
DOING JUST ENOUGH
England on the other hand have been distinctly average, which you may well think is a good thing for a team who has won all their matches and sit a top of the table. Late tries against France and Wales sealed victories for Eddie Jones’ men after being outplayed. Against Italy, the opponents tactics of not committing to the ruck bamboozled the Red Rose side for 40 minutes, before they figured out how to deal with it and eventually won comfortably to seal a 17th consecutive victory. England have been way below their recent standards during the tournament, though with three wins out of three, it could be argued that winning when playing badly is the mark of a championship winning team.
MOST IMPORTANT CALCUTTA CUP MATCH FOR YEARS
So a Scotland team on the up and confidence as high as it could be, will be looking to win at Twickenham for the first time in 34 years with the added caveat of sealing the triple crown, something they have not achieved since 1990. England have only shown glimpses of what they are capable of at their best. Their caveat is that they are one win away from equalling New Zealand’s world record of 18 straight test match victories. Wouldn’t it be just like the Scots to halt an English charge (1990 and 2000 at Murrayfield, come to mind) though England do have an Australian at the helm and he would just love to be the architect of a team that matches a record held by a New Zealand side and then have the opportunity to beat it.
A SHOCK ON THE CARDS?
Based purely on current form you would favour the Scottish. However the English and probably more importantly Eddie Jones and his backroom team will know the performances that have been produced so far will not suffice against a Scotland team high on confidence, who feel for the first time in a long while that they can beat England on their own patch. As always in matches like this it is likely going to come down to who executes their gameplan properly and takes their opportunities. A hell of a game is in store but who will prevail? The English Rose or The Scottish Thistle? Roll on March 11th – 4pm I say.
Just to say this is actually my 200th blog up on this site – many thanks to all the readers, here’s to getting to the 300th.
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