Your Multi Purpose Calcutta Cup Preview Piece

There has been a lot of focus in the buildup to this game on 1983, when a Scotland XV last won at Twickenham. It was 34 years ago, and I was very young indeed. Most if not all of the Scotland team weren’t born.

Here’s what they aren’t looking at, though – that team was filled with vintage names, but they finished second bottom in the 5 Nations, having lost to everyone apart from England, who went on to finish bottom.

Vintage players, not a vintage year for either side.

That performance was a brief fillip in a poor run of results that season. It was, of course, followed up by the Grand Slam in 1984 by many of the same players. Gregor Townsend might fancy following a win at Twickenham up with a Grand Slam the next year, but purely in terms of this game Scotland need to look elsewhere for inspiration. Vern Cotter has said that counting a solitary win against England as a successful season is a mindset to get away from.

Our lads are in a different place, having won 2 from 3. Certainly, the mindset of the England team going for a record run of victories would be different.

For me the source of inspiration should be 1990, regardless of the venue. That was a much higher pressure match with more than bragging rights at stake – in which the Scots were still given little chance but still emerged the victors.

We’re not sure if this is a championship-winning Scotland side – we still need results to swing our way much as the next good side in 1999 side did, which is something the true winning teams don’t have to rely on. What we do know is that this is about as talented a team as we’ve had since those great teams. But wouldn’t we rather they were remembered as a golden generation rather than for one-off results?

Good times are ahead people, but they might not start just yet.

So with that in mind, you can pick and mix from the choices below to build a match preview to your own liking. Team news is below as well.

Setting the Scene

The most insightful, tactically aware and best-prepared coach in world rugby is:

a) Eddie Jones
b) Vern Cotter
c) Rob Howley
c) Sir Clive Woodward would never have allowed this to happen

Warren Gatland is:

a) Starting to take notice of Scotland
b) Going through a midlife crisis
c) Still picking Alun-Wyn as captain, just get over it

The Arrogant English

England are:

a) Woefully ignorant of the Scottish threat and in for a hammering, even at home
b) Already focusing on the game against Ireland for the Grand Slam
c) Trying to work out how you drop the captain
d) Completely aware of the Scottish threat, taking it seriously and preparing accordingly given a few iffy performances so far in the tournament

Meanwhile the English press are:

a) Already focusing on the game against Ireland for the Grand Slam
b) Printing up “greatest team ever apart from the All Blacks” t-shirts
c) Bricking it in case Scotland turn up and it’s a decent game so they’re printing semi-decent pieces on the talent within Scottish ranks in order to appear balanced
d) Fairly admiring of several in the Scottish ranks including Finn, the Gray boys and Stuart Hogg (exception: S Jones who still picks Kearney as Lions FB)

Eddie Jones is:

a) taking all the pressure on himself to avoid putting it on his players who are “world-class” but misfiring
b) making it up as he goes along
c) cunningly posting fake team plans to confuse the press

England team: Mike Brown, Jack Nowell, Jonathan Joseph, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Joe Marler, Dylan Hartley (capt), Dan Cole, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Maro Itoje, James Haskell, Nathan Hughes.
Replacements: Jamie George, Mako Vunipola, Kyle Sinckler, Tom Wood, Billy Vunipola, Danny Care, Ben Te’o, Anthony Watson

It’s a very strong team and those Vunipola boys add plenty of power on the bench. If you hadn’t seen them play against Italy then you’d definitely have strong reasons for worry.

But it is a team built on size and power. Is that a flaw?

The Chippy Scots

From their swanky training base at Oriam, Vern Cotter and Scotland are:

a) Planning a bunch of practical jokes to play on Dylan Hartley in order to cause an implosion, possibly involving leaping out of cupboards
b) Going down to Twickenham with the aim of a 4 try bonus point win
c) Probably going to lose by 7-12 points
d) Completely aware of the English threat, form and winning record, taking it seriously and preparing accordingly for a venue where they haven’t won in 34 years

Stories in the Scottish press are:

a) Focusing on the fact that none of the current team was born in 1983
b) Piling the pressure hard on England as overwhelming favourites
c) Trying not to jinx anything so picking England as winners
d) Hiding the fact that we all feel that a win is definitely possible if we can play the territory well but not wanting to lose underdog status

Finn Russell is:

a) Lions standoff if Jonny Sexton gets injured
b) Lions standoff if Owen Farrell gets injured
c) Too mercurial even to get on the plane
d) A cheeky chappy with a famous ex-girlfriend, so pass the sweeties

Scotland team: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Huw Jones, Alex Dunbar, Tim Visser, Finn Russell, Ali Price; Gordon Reid, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Richie Gray, Jonny Gray, John Barclay (capt), Hamish Watson, Ryan Wilson.
Replacements: Ross Ford, Allan Dell, Simon Berghan, Tim Swinson, Cornell Du Preez, Henry Pyrgos, Duncan Weir, Mark Bennett

One thing is for sure, our bench is going to have to work twice as hard to make any sort of impact. England aren’t going to worry too much about what’s thrown at them from there, provided they can survive the starting XV from the off.

It’s some arena for Cornell du Preez to get his first cap and equally hard to see the back row replacement not being required at any point. And Sean Maitland is unlucky to miss out off the bench. It may have been a close selection between him and Bennett who has a good game vs the Dragons to thank – and he played pretty well the last time he appeared at Twickenham in that quarter final…

Kickoff is 4pm Saturday, the game is live on ITV, and the referee Mathieu Raynal of France. Our coverage this weekend will come from Cammy and Iain. Enjoy!

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129 comments on “Your Multi Purpose Calcutta Cup Preview Piece

  1. Andrew McGavin on

    Every England player will be feeling pressure to some degree. Of course, England are also masters of their own fate, but the extent to which Scotland adds to, or releases, that pressure, will also play a large factor in deciding the outcome. Both Vunipolas will feel the pressure of coming back after injury, having to regain their spots, hoping their bodies hold up to the strain etc. The expectation on both of them is significant, which is usually unrealistic when coming back from injury.

  2. Andrew on

    Weir on the bench clearly means we will be looking for game management to hold our lead in the last 10-15 minutes! On the BBC HYS the usual stuff about no Scotland players being good enough for the England 23 is being trotted out. I would take Billy Vunipola on the bench, otherwise I am happy to stick with our boys.

    • JohnMc on

      Maitland can consider himself very unlucky – I’m just wondering whether he had a fitness problem.
      Chance for CdP to shine then! A bit surprised by that selection, but Vern and his team must be seeing things in training that we haven’t been seeing on the pitch for Edinburgh.
      Yes, lots of over-confident, thoughtless guff on BBC HYS from some England fans. They are outnumbered though by others who know that England need to take us very seriously indeed.

      • Not rocket science on

        Real shame neither Maitland or Taylor make the 23 through fitness presumably. But I don’t think our bench is that bad, it’s certainly for cover and continuity, not impact. Bennett if he has played himself back into form can make a difference – who can really tell against the dragons! Other than that Pyrgos could manage the game if everyone is losing their heads, Swinson is solid and had a cracking game against France, du preez was apparently a player a seasons ago, Ford is pretty good off the bench. The rest can make the tea.

  3. KenScot on

    England have been dicing with danger over opening 3 games, any of which they could have lost (although you can say that about many games at this level). But that spinning coin could fall on either side. On the one hand maybe they’ve been playing poorly, riding their luck, and at some point they won’t get away with it. Or… they’ve been beating very good sides while nowhere near their best, and if they hit form they’ll give someone a walloping.

    Here’s hoping it’s the former.

    For me it all boils down to how our set piece holds up and how much territory we get to play with. If the territory and possession falls at 50/50 or better for us i’ll back Scotland to win – we have the the more dangerous finishers. But if we constantly concede points and ground from scrum pens like in Paris we’re in trouble…

    Despite the 2 from 3 wins, i don’t think we’ve played nearly as well as we did against Australia in Autumn. For me the Grays still have a bigger performance in them, Russell hasn’t been at his best (despite MoM against Wales), and we haven’t seen all Hugh Jones or Seymour have to offer yet.

    The VC era has seen continual steady progress… but hasn’t seen an era defining win yet. Close against the All Blacks two autumns ago. The two 1 point loses to Aus. Leading at Twickenham at HT 2 years ago… Maybe, just maybe, it’s time

    • 1.8T on

      I agree, yes England haven’t been playing well but a team as good as them doesn’t need to play that well to win. We also haven’t been playing that well (in periods of a game) but have still managed to win twice. Totally agree that Russell, Jones and Seymour have more to offer (I would add Dunbar to that list too, he has been terrific in defence but we haven’t seen much of him in attack). If that lot click I think most teams in the world would be on the receiving end of a barrow load of tries.

      I’m trying not to get too carried away but this is genuinely the best chance of beating England at home we have had for donkeys years, we have had the ability but in the past I think the team has been beaten before they have reached Twickenham, I don’t get that impression with this team. Look at our results since the last 6N. Two (albeit scruffy) wins over Japan, a narrow loss and excellent game against Australia, wins over Argentina (even though we did our best to lose) and Georgia, wins over Ireland and Wales and a nearly against France despite a scrum schooling. The team now has a winning mentality that has been sorely missing in the past, we have no need to fear anyone!

  4. 1.8T on

    Pretty much what we thought then. Maitland can be justifiably annoyed at being left out, he has done no wrong but with Visser’s performance against Wales it would have been very difficult to drop him and Bennett played well for Glasgow. I would probably still have had Maitland on the bench due to his ability to cover 15, not to take anything away from it but Bennett’s good game was against a woeful Dragons side, he has still been short of form in a Scotland jersey.

    The rest pick themselves, just have to hope that Watson and Barclay don’t get crocked or we could be in trouble. Need some big carries from brothers Gray. The second row should be a monumental clash, Launchberry has been sublime. My fear is England’s bench, it beats ours hands down, hopefully we’ll be done and dusted by then though…..!

    Can’t wait!

    To answer one of the questions in the post, Warren Gatland is A, B & C. He is noticing Scotland, and looked ill last weekend as he was contemplating how difficult his justification for taking half of wales with him is becoming. He is definitely going through a midlife crisis and AWJ will be the captain, pass the fake tan.

  5. Sean on

    Can’t wait for Saturday. The English have an almighty bench at their disposal but the first 15s look very competitive. Slightly surprised to see a weir/Bennett combo on bench. I thought we may go with Horne/Maitland.

    Whoever we pick this is, for me, the most i’ve looked forward to a game since the WC semi final in 1991!

  6. Ade on

    Finn Russell is:

    c (or is it d) – a cheeky chappy whose ex-girlfriend has a famous ex-boyfriend?

    Go for it Scotland – I’ll be there on Saturday cheering you every step of the way!

  7. Referendum on

    A big point that perhaps has been missed thus far in the win from Wales is that we won in being down at half-time. When has that happened last? Maybe Japan in the summer? But against a tier 1 team it won’t have happened in a long time. We can win now from varying positions in a game. A great chance on Sat.

    • Sean on

      Did we not go behind against Ireland too? A mate of mine from Wales used to say as soon as scotland go behind they can’t win. Changed days!

    • Referendum on

      I’m not talking about going behind. Very few teams stay ahead the whole match but being stuck in the dressing down on the score board at half-time only having hope rather than belief has gone. Over the last year we have been knocking the negative stats out the park. We can continue to do so no problem without fear. This is the biggest yet make no mistake.

  8. Busy Little Bee on

    I predict Cornell Du Preez to win the match off the bench with a brilliant late offload to on-rushing Jones.

    I know he hasn’t performed this season but I quite like his inclusion, it’s daring. We won’t win this match with a bunch of Rob Harleys but CDP is capable of some magic hands and is a big boy.

    I too would rather see Horne and Maitland on the bench but hard to argue with Vern’s judgement.

    • KenScot on

      Agree on Maitland. But on Weir i still think it’s horses for courses. Horne and Russell are better, more creative 10s from the start. But, if we need a drop goal or pen to win it in last 5, who would you rather have off the bench?

      Although dream scenario is that we’re so far ahead we can have Dunbar try a DG in last min – while facing away from the goal :)

  9. Andrew McGavin on

    Just read that Owen Farrell has limped out of training with a knock. Jones just gave a bizarre press conference where within 40 seconds he says that Farrell is a doubt, before saying that he’ll be fine, before saying that they have a great replacement if Farrell can’t play (Ben Te’o). When asked how it happened, Jones said Farrell ran into Jones’ dog. Cue confused journalists…one website says he was joking about the dog; another major London paper is reporting it as fact – sounded more like a joke to me. Whatever Jones says, if he can’t play, that is a significant boost to Scotland…

      • TheSmidge on

        I’m happy for Jones to play mind-games in the press. We can keep ours for the pitch, where they’ll be guessing if we’re going to pull any unusual tactics out. Given their experience against Italy and the line-out trick for Dunbar’s try vs Ireland, they have ground for being concerned about tactics that require time to respond to. If we’re still in the game at HT, the best time to dig something out of the playbook will in the 2nd half.

    • JohnMc on

      Neil, I’d be happy to take that, considering you predicted a winning margin against Wales that was only two points out.
      As a result of a tragic calendar accident, I find myself at Sandown Park on Saturday afternoon. Having established they will be allocating some of their tv monitors to the Calcutta Cup match, Mrs Mc is well aware that all my interest in horses will disappear from 3.50 pm.

  10. TVP520 on

    If Finn brings his A game we really could cause them problems. People go on about the scrum but remember Dan Cole was in the Leicester team that got munched by Glasgow twice.His 45 Degree bore at the scrums did not work on either occasion. and it is the same Glasgow front row. Really excited and I will be there.

    • Mikelinds on

      Agree, not impressed with Cole. His technique, or lack of it has been highlighted in the past and I’m sure BVC will alert Mr Reynard to that. He’s also ill disciplined.

      Talking of Reynard, anyone got any insights – other than he doesn’t know the laws, witness Connaught v Wasps.

  11. Frazer on

    We really need to get off to a flyer in this game as the England bench is very formidable. England will do all they can to stifle us for the first 20 minutes, we will come flying out the blocks and try all that we can to get an early lead. For us to be in with a decent shout I’d like to see us ahead by at least 10 by the 60th minute.

    I keep shifting between being sure we’ll win and sure we’ll lose, but given how Glasgow and Edinburgh performed against Leicester and Quins I feel that we have a great chance to win the Triple Crown. Had we not been so stricken by injuries I would have even had us as favourites!

    • Andy on

      Yup if we had Dickinson, Sutherland, Nel, Hardie, Strauss, Denton, Laidlaw, Taylor and Maitland fully fit and available we would be even more formidable. Strength in depth really being pushed.

  12. RuggersB on

    Good selection by VC …considering the players we have out injured.

    Happy to see VC picked an attacking side that suits us. Visser ahead of Maitland …I feel VC is showing the intent to have a right go at England. As everyone is saying the bench looks far weaker in theory….however..Im not convinced it is. Du Preez is a smart move by VC I think. England have no footage of him at International level, granted neither do we, and he has potential to have a real impact much like Vunipola. They are similar players ….with the exception that, of course, Vunipola, has already proven his abilities. Du Perez has not shown any form of note this year…. but IF he is a big game player that won’t matter a jot. It isn’t a gamble because Harley has had his opportunities at international level and just wouldn’t make an impact off the bench and of course we have no Strauss.
    Bennet showed in his last game that he is getting his mojo back, albeit against a poor side…was still a classic Bennet try he scored.

    If we had Nel, Dicko, Strauss, Laidlaw and Taylor our bench would be very strong….as it is Englands looks stronger..will be interesting to see if that is actually true tho.

    Not so sure the front row can’t win their battles..or at least hold their own. Englands front rows dont seem as strong as say Ireland, to me. I doubt the Glasgow lads have much concerns about facing Cole…thats for sure.

    We probably need a decent a lead around the 50 -60 min mark to have a chance…who knows tho.

    • Mikelinds on

      I think we will likely be OK up front until Reid goes off. I expect Fagerson will be flogged till he is out on his feet and then some more.

      Think I smell a bit of a plan, if both
      Grey’s can do 80, then Swinson and CdP give us the grunt to hang on for dear life. Not sure it would be my choice, but if we are still in it at 65-70 minutes then Barclay, Wilson and Watson will be out on their feet.

      Just give it our best shot, and leave nothing out there.

      • RuggersB on

        Yeah I think the plan is for CDP and Swinson to help give us the pushback that counters the Vunipolas in the 2nd half.

    • Don on

      Last night we saw a different George North.
      Or was he differently marked by Zebo rather than Visser
      Tim V more than earns his starting place.

  13. Ej's baws on

    Strong defence , kick well , play in their half ,score on every visit to the 22 and return the favour every time they score, piece of urine .Failing that kidnap eddies dug

  14. Niddrie Exiler on

    That does seem to be the plan guts, though u did think Denton would get the nod. However VC thinks DuPreez can do the job so that’s good enough for me. Wilson and Watson off around 60 mins, the Gray’s and Barclay a full shift. Pyrgis on at 60 as well. We can do this what a game in prospect

  15. pragmatic optomist on

    I can’t believe how big the English scrum back 5 are.
    Itoje, Haskell and Hughes as a back row, are enormous. It does make our back row look lightweight in comparison.
    They are almost playing 5 x locks, so their plan seems obvious. It’s the same gameplan as France had.
    Hopefully we have the speed and guile to move them around, otherwise we’re going to have a few more injuries to deal with.

    • Referendum on

      I did initially think the injuries in France were due to them being big and hitting hard but Laidlaw and one other was their own player was it Strauss? I discount Hardie too for he is completely reckless and if he continues to tackle like that he’ll always get concussed. So the level of injuries there were more normal in that context meaning two going off. I think we were unlucky and I’d hope that level of injury wouldn’t happen so soon again. There is no doubt so many going off early meant we weren’t as fresh going into the last 15 where we did lose the match.

  16. brigandaca on

    I fancy Du Preez as a big game player so am quite excited to see his entry into the game. OK, he hasn’t been on great form but this occasion will bring out his best…I hope.

    Been going to Twickenham every two years since 1999 (and that was the only time we were close to winning – aaaargghhh Kenny Logan). I’ll continue until we do win and then never set foot in the place again – this is the best chance to do that we’ve had in a long while.

  17. TheSmidge on

    I see the Farrell injury scare continues to be perpetuated today. While I have my doubts that it is in anyway real, in the event it is, I don’t see where England have any cover for 10 in their team or on the bench. Unless Daly is their version of Huw-play-anywhere-Jones. One would then hate to see a member of our pack charging up the channel and flattening Ford in the early exchanges…

    • RuggersB on

      The Farrell ‘injury’ looks BS to me. The only ‘training’ he is missing… is the last day which is just light training to keep things ticking.
      Its maybe an invite to Scotland to attack that area ..because England have based their tactics around Scotland doing that.

  18. Mikelinds on

    Like you I have my doubts. Lozowski is in the wider squad, so presumably he’ll be called up if needed.

  19. Ej's baws on

    If Farrell out and they try and spread it ,could be time for a bommy toyd intercept,haven’t seen one for a while

    • TheSmidge on

      One of the English coaches said that Te’o comes into the team and Jonny May onto the bench if Farrell is injured. I suppose it adds more evidence to the dubious nature of the story.

      • Mikelinds on

        Totally, they haven’t thought their story through. That would mean them going into the game with no 10 cover. Bollocks.

    • Mikelinds on

      Won’t be Slade, he’s not a regular 10 and Jones doesn’t rate him.

      It’s all a piece of EJ rubbish.

  20. Andrew on

    Great pieces on the BBC – Finn Russell’s column seems like a guy who knows what he is about and has his feet on the ground. Then Hogg’s interview – exuding confidence and acknowledging that he has weaknesses in defence. Talks about him being peppered with high balls. Not sure that would be a smart move for England. The job Vern has done has been exceptional hope the boys give him a game to remember tomorrow.

    • Mikelinds on

      Very poor indeed. Playing by numbers, which is Schmidt’s plan. OK, it looks like they are trying, the loop round, then the kick, dink or cross, and so on, but no sense they are ever pulling the opposing threes out of place.

      Toner can book his summer holidays now.

      Worser, all the Welsh over the hillers can start checking their passports.

  21. FF on

    So, Welsh result means if we win tomorrow we have a good chance of winning 6N title and will probably be in top seeds for RWC. Big day.

    • Doddies trews on

      I’m not even nervous. Just excited about the possibilities. It feels like a free shot at glory. Lose and this tournament has still been a big step forward (provided we win at home to a poor Italy). Win and we are in dreamland.

  22. Bulldog on

    For once the Rugby Gods shine on Scotland. The Friday international means we know exactly what we need to do.

    Ireland beat the All Blacks. We beat Ireland and Wales who lost narrowly to England. The pundits favour England at home, playing poorly but winning, with a world record up for grabs they need to up their game a bit and their last outing was ruckgate (not ideal prep). It is all set up for trademark Scottish defiance.

    If Scotland win the first 20 mins , the crowd expectation will become a burden. The game will be over when the bench get on the pitch.

    This is as good a chance as we have ever had with a team that has already experienced dealing with the unexpected and come through.

    It is as good a day as any to get emotional :

    This is my country,
    The land that begat me.
    These windy spaces
    Are surely my own.
    And those who toil here
    In the sweat of their faces
    Are flesh of my flesh,
    And bone of my bone.

    • Ian on

      Yet do thy children
      Honour and love thee.
      Harsh is thy schooling,
      Yet great is the gain:
      True hearts and strong limbs,
      The beauty of faces,
      Kissed by the wind
      And caressed by the rain.

  23. Referendum on

    Huge day. And who was the team and the coach to last beat Eddie Jones as coach on the International stage? It might be a certain New Zealander by the name of Mr Vernon Cotter and his plucky blue shirted warriors. I will cry tears of elation tomorrow should we do what we are dreaming of!

  24. Niddrie Exiler on

    I will never forget being at the Scots end at Twickenham as a 15 year old schoolboy, English accent but a proud Scot. At the end the Scots cheered their beaten heroic team and as I turned to move away I looked up and a giant banner was held high by several fans with the words ” Remember Bannockburn ” they hadn’t given up.
    We are all proud emotional Scots on here, this can be our Bannockburn boys. All the best

  25. JohnMc on

    Hope every Scotland supporter in the ground has a day to remember. As well as the millions of us around the world watching on television. The team believes in themselves, and we believe in them. If we win I just know I’ll unashamedly greet like a bairn. Come on, Scotland!

  26. niall2510 on

    buzzing for the game lots of possibilities if we play to our best we can win we don’t even need England to have a bad game. considering the ages of our players this year is a breakthrough year for our rugby nation and the future is looking bright whatever the result today

  27. john martin on

    Fascinating to discover if we can impose the organised chaos” gameplan onto the huge english team (if my maths are right they out-weigh us by 8st+ in the back row alone). If we can escape their brute force & get Hogg/Russell in a wee bit of space then you never know.

  28. BigAl on

    Its the same referee as Leicester v Glasgow. The Glasgow boys will all be saying hello.
    I’m sure the Scotland team will be reminding the ref how Dan Cole went in the scrum in that game. Fingers crossed.

  29. niall2510 on

    beers are in the fridge
    phone going onto silent
    wife been told to have a shopping day
    all add up to perfect conditions to watching a game of this magnitude!
    better go and warn the neighbours about the colourful language that they will likely hear.
    I’m strangely not nervous at all though

  30. FF on

    21:07 Bennett off injured. This has turned in to an absolute b***** disaster very quickly. We’re gonna be on the end of a big score here.

  31. Csc on

    How come Scotland’s play is so slow today. Especially against an England who have learned to play fast.

  32. RuggersB on

    Well….this one was gone after Brown got the yellow at 2’….proceeded to become a farce with the injuries etc.

    Bad day at the office… putting it mildly.

    Never expected this poor performance from Scotland…thought we would at least compete.

  33. Sean on

    We’ve been very bad. Have to give England credit in exposing a midfield weakness.

    Lions tour up in smoke for most of our players.

    • RuggersB on

      Yeah… we’ll be lucky if we have more than have one player..

      The petition to keep VC probably just got a fair bit shorter too…

  34. Csc on

    I would agree that England have played the better rugby, but the ref seems to have been very generous to Eng in allowing them to smother the ball at the breakdown.

    • TeamCam on

      Yeah, he’s been wacky, but England would have won regardless. Injuries haven’t helped, but England would have won regardless.

    • Will on

      Breakdown refereeing was a load of bollocks, but I think England still would have won anyway. Questions to be asked about our mental preparation surely. We looked completely rattled once Hogg went off

  35. Doddies trews on

    I said earlier on this thread that it was a shot to nothing today, and I wouldn’t be too disappointed with a loss. Yeah, f**k that, I didn’t consider the possibility that we’d be man-shamed today. Huge congratulations to England, light years ahead of us. The Scottish players let themselves, Vern, and the nation down.

  36. Highland Bear on

    ‘… and sent them homeward to think again.’
    England turned up with their A game and blew Scotland away. The boosters and fantasists (I include the contributors to the Podcast) who have been frequenting this blog for the past fortnight need to eat some serious humble pie. This was a serious beasting.

  37. FF on

    Had to turn off at HT: a real wooden spoon performance. We need to work hard to win back some respect next week. A loss will send us back to square one. So disappointed :(

  38. Mydogcouldrefthebreakdownbetter on

    A combination of us not turning up, mistakes, bad luck, the god awful ref and the English actually turning up in attack for a change has led to a severe beating

    • Al on

      It was a perfect storm indeed. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, and the mental ref sealed the deal. We made England look like the All Blacks, which they ain’t!

  39. Andrew McGavin on

    England simply outstanding. No answers today. A shame we didn’t sneak a 4-try bonus point, but I don’t think we deserved it, tbh. We were unlucky that England put it all together today compared to previous showings, but we should never have fallen apart like that. Our inexperience and youth showed. Just hope it doesn’t destroy the well-deserved confidence we’ve built up from previous showings.

    All to play for next week. We still have a great chance of coming 2nd in this Championship.

    • FF on

      We’re a long way behind Ireland on points difference so even a BP win we’re prob just hoping for 3rd. Don’t think we can count on beating Italy tbh

      • Andrew McGavin on

        I’m not presuming we’ll beat Italy, although I think I’ll almost be more disappointed than I was today if we don’t. However, if: a) we win with a bonus point; b) England win; c) neither Wales nor France win with a 4-try bonus point, then we will come second. That doesn’t sound too unlikely to me, although Ireland will be very strong in Dublin and could certainly turn England over.

  40. Dave B on

    In the professional era Scotland just haven’t been at the races. The coaches have to work with what they are given. The SRU need to step up the game. It’s no use blaming the players and coaches. It’s about time the SRU got some stick as well.
    We have only 2 Pro teams! It’s no wonder we don’t have strength in depth. We have 4 Academies yet 2 pro teams is strangling the national team. So much so, we simply don’t have the depth in players playing at the highest level.
    Today there was no intensity from our forwards in the breakdown. Our backs forgot how to defend. Tim Visser was nowhere to be seen. We had our starting 9 on the wing. We had our centre at full back. Brown sent off in the first minutes. We had two weeks to prepare for this game and we were served a dogs breakfast.
    Fin Russell making mistakes again. Barclay as captain had a penalty over turned because of unsportsmanlike conduct which led to the scoring.
    Seriously though, the SRU need to have a long hard think about how we begin to turn the game of rugby around in Scotland at the highest level before we have to endure many more years of national humiliation in the pro era.

    • Andrew McGavin on

      I totally understand the emotion, Dave, and you make a few valid points, but let’s not throw away the confidence and genuine improvements we’ve made at all levels of the game in Scotland. We need to get behind the boys after a devastating day at the office. We can still finish 2nd.

      • Doddies trews on

        This. The SRU HAS made changes to make us more competitive. The future is still bright, but today was undoubtedly a big reality check.

      • Dave B on

        Hi Andrew, in the cold light of day I’m sure your words will resonate and those fans that are hurting bad now will get behind the lads for the Italy game. This will still go down in the annals of rugby history as Scotland’s worst defeat in the Calcutta Cup.

      • Andrew McGavin on

        You’re right, Dave. We were hoping this game would be historic, but not for these reasons!

  41. Ray on

    We thoroughly deserved that beating,yes some referee decisions were maybe bit odd but congratulations to England superb performance with the help of some really bad tackling by us. What a confidance destroyer,Italy will be boosted by that performance by us, I’m gutted, bit embarrassed too. Oh well back to the drawing board and as for lions maybe Huw Jones, but no one else put their hands up.

  42. Sean on

    England played to the refs interpretation of the breakdown, we didn’t.

    The injuries made it impossible.

    For me we need a ball carrier in the back row in a game like this-Strauss and/or a fully fit Denton were needed to take some carrying burden from the Grays.

    It was a strange performance all round, like England were playing a different game….

  43. JP on

    The only plus I can take from today is that I’m now far less concerned about Vern leaving…

    Having a scrum half on the wing and a winger at full back makes a mockery of the decision to omit Maitland (who I believe was fit)…

    • Kilry on

      Also unsure as to why Huw Jones wasn’t put at FB, move Russel to centre where he’s played reasonable pro rugby and let Weir control into the game a bit at 10. Jones had a good game but though he was touted as a play anywhere man?

  44. Neil on

    despite not watching anymore , this was clearly an off day and not a disaster long run for sru . i think we lacked leadership and defense was not pressing hard enough. losing hogg and the brown yellow just changed the mindset i think.

  45. 1.8T on

    As soon as Fraser Brown had his rush of blood in the 2nd minute and England scored 10 points just after that it was game over. The injuries sealed our fate. England finally showed up and proved why they have won 18 in a row, very powerful display from them and they blew us away. In the back row it was always going to be englands hammers vs our rapiers, the hammers won.

    Don’t think we should get too carried away and dwell on this game, how we bounce back against Italy (if there are any non concussed players left) next weekend will be a mark of where the teams at.

  46. niall2510 on

    just a really bad day every team has them. only positive was huw Jones who stood out. next week’s selection is going to be interesting because of injuries I’m hoping matt Scott gets a chance to prove himself

  47. Ej's baws on

    The two 1 point defeats against Australia were learning/turning points and the tuning today is hopefully one of them ,it shows where we need to be,well played England

  48. Davie on

    Disastrous today, but a wee bit of context needed perhaps? While I don’t think for a minute that we were lucky to beat Ireland and Wales, those matches could easily have gone differently. Again, our injury list, up to and including events today, is barely believable.
    PS – I wonder when we’ll see the first rugby international in which none of the players was born in the country they’re representing?

  49. A Jock In Wales on

    Pretty disappointing today – from the very early rush of bloody by Brown and the quickly conceded try it was already in my books over…. I don’t think any injury contingencies cater for what we have been through this year – one BIG THING is what happened to Hoggy though?

    Anyway, like said above somewhere, this is a reality check only. Scotland ARE better than we were before big VC arrived, and have shown marked progress. We do need a very very convincing win against Italy next week though – luckily watching this back home in Scotland too!

    Grudgingly :) I will say a very well done to England too- they certainly upped their game and look likely to win the slam too.

  50. Al on

    Massive wake up call in how far we still have to go. The luck, of lack of it we’ve had with injuries beggars belief. If Hogg and Seymour failed an HIA i suspect neither will be free to play against Italy. Bennet looked like his Achilles popped and Wilson took a massive clout. We will potentially be missing Laidlaw, Hogg, Seymour, Wilson, Strauss, Bennett, Taylor, Dicko, Nell. Our player pool is so shallow I worry that this could be the Breaking of this team. Comfortably the worst 80 I’ve seen us put in for some time. Russell and Dunbar had terrible first halfs and the damage done by half time meant there was no way back from there. Back to our usual guff restarts and aerial game. Penalised out of sight by the ref (rightly or wrongly) which killed us and a defence more welcoming to penetration than a Dutch hooker. They won’t go into the Italy game thinking it’ll be a stroll now.

    One final thought….Scott Hastings. Seriously, what is the point of him? He never says anything controversial or disagrees with Dallaglio. Anything remotely iffy (e.g. Hughes late tackle) and he clams up. Who is he worried about upsetting? Come back teapot, all is forgiven.

    • Occhiali on

      Yes, I found Hastings irritating too. Such a twat at times. I thought Laidlaw’s body language (especially the sly expression on his face at the end) vis-a-vis Sah Clive was interesting post-match. Personally, I would like to have punched Woodward off-camera. Wilko had good comments particularly re Russell’s silly risk-taking on his own line trying to push things when as he said Scotland needed to get the ball and ‘keep it’ for 5-10 minutes to settle a bit.

      • Al on

        Creamy has some interesting things to say about Hastings in his biog. Treated Scotland tours like a jolly and didn’t like being told to knuckle down and graft. As for his brother, he was one of the main blocks on getting pro rugby sorted properly in Scotland when the game went open. Notwithstanding their playing ability they are both “Very much so” out of touch relics of the amateur era.

  51. Busy Little Bee on

    A day where everything conspired against us, it can happen. This is an excellent English side with very good players coming back from injury and the early yellow, injuries and below par individual performances did for us. If we beat Italy it’s been a successful tournament.
    That’s the bottom line and I believe the players gave everything again today and we should be proud of them. Long before half time was had Weir at full ball and Price on the wing. Thanks to the players for their commitment.

    • Borderer on

      Good summary BLB, I would only add that when everything conspires against you experienced teams find a way of working them out, slowing things down for a while and working their way back. It’s that experience as a team we’re lacking, we must stick with this squad and will be a much better team in the big away games in 2/3 years time. Don’t expect a lot of changes next week, only those enforced by injury. We put this behind us and move on. We’ve not become a poor team after one game against a world class team on top of their game.

      • RuggersB on

        We are not a poor team by any stretch. We are underpowered tho. England are also further down the road in their development than we are…they are simply a better team than us at the moment. They are the top team in the northern hemisphere by a fair distance.

        I dont think its just experience we need….its power too. We are also starting to build depth…but have a bit to go with that.

        Watching the u20 teams you see the same problem…England look like they are physically twice the size of our players. If quick ball or loose ball isn’t there for speed to make a difference …we just get outmuscled.

  52. RuggersB on

    I felt today that we were shown that despite it not being ‘our style’ to play power rugby…and that we dont have many power options up front. England showed us today that we will need to find those options if we want to win trophies….otherwise we won’t get over that hurdle. England overpowered us upfront to prevent us getting any front foot ball. We have talented backs but if they dont have the power in the front pack to give them the ball and create some space for them they’ll just get shut down by the top teams.

    Guys like Bradbury, Ritchie, Cummings etc …starting bulking up guys…if you want to win anything.

    Like to see CDP play 8 against Italy…to see what he can do.

  53. BorderBadger on

    Nobody you turned up. Simple question to the guys in blue on the pitch. Who are you and what have you done with the Scotland team?

    • Busy Little Bee on

      What do you mean exactly?
      Does anyone honestly believe the guys who edged past Ireland and Wales downed tools in this match? Please don’t be so stupid. This was a case of facing an excellent, record breaking English side and absolutely everything that could go wrong did go wrong. We had Weir at full back and Price on the wing most of the match FFS. The players care and we have the best side we’ve had for a long time, these boys are well worth backing despite the disaster today.

      [edited for profanity]

  54. Mike on

    Really bad day at the office. Needed to start well and didn’t; actually we started horribly. Game was lost in first quarter and with injuries we had no chance after that. I’m not despondent, if we win next week it will be what most of us realists would have prayed for before the 6N started. I see us very competive at home (injuries aside) now, and now need to nick wins away. To be fair, no-one except for England have managed an away win (bar some beating Italy away). It was painful today, but I think a lot of the support had gotten carried away. The biggest problem from today, will be giving Gatland cover to select only a couple of scots for the lions now.

    • Occhiali on

      Tbh, I’m not bothered about the Lions. The best thing for this team is to go on tour in Australia with some new guys along to get game time from the bench to ease them in. Toony will also need the time with the players, regular and new. The Lions tour is a red herring and looks a horrendous schedule with every super team lined up to play them plus the ABs themselves. I think the Lions are in for a hiding and we could do without our top players having either to recover from injury or to rediscover their form a la Hogg last time.

  55. JohnMc on

    It’s quite a shock, really. Even allowing for the daft yellow and the unfortunate injuries, I didn’t think I’d seen anything in Scotland’s or England’s form in the three previous rounds to point to such a royal humping today. A serious reality check and reminder that there is quite some gap between the top two in the world and the rest when they get their acts together.
    Could only watch the first half on a screen 20 yards away with no sound. Probably just as well.
    Anyway, as some have said, we haven’t suddenly become a bad side because of this. Just one that’s received a painful reminder of the need to continue to build on the foundations that Vern and others have laid if we have serious aspirations to remain in the top half dozen or so sides in the world.
    Having said that, what the hell went wrong with our midfield defending today?

  56. Prager on

    Well. What is there to say about that? Clearly it was England’s best performance for a while, and Scotland’s worst, so England would almost certainly have won anyway. But the amount of bad luck we had today was quite staggering. Already missing Nell, Dicko, Strauss, Laidlaw, Hardie, to lose Hogg and Bennett in the first few minutes was just too much for the squad to take. Surely there’s a case to be made that teams must be allowed more injury cover on the bench?

    To those who said it was BVC’s fault for not putting Maitland on the bench, who’s to say that he wouldn’t have been stretchered off anyway, just as Bennet was.

    What are the rules about return to play exactly? Any chance of seeing Hogg, Seymour or Wilson play next week?

  57. Prager on

    Also, the referee REALLY doesn’t like Barclay. Every time Barclay tried to talk to the ref it turned him more against us – that probably added 14 to England’s tally directly (the overturned penalty decision and the “missed” knock-ons at the end).

  58. Andy on

    Can’t really articulate my feelings at the moment

    Scotland players need to hit the gym and eat more chicken

    Ref was pathetic. Worth 15 points to england

    Lots of Scots have ruled themselves out of lions

    Pathetic defence in midfield from us

    England bullied us and the Ref

    The still image of Danny Cares face swan diving over the line for the last try should be placed in every dressing room in every club in Scottish Rugby from entry level all the way tI the big boy’s.

    • DJB on

      Yep, Danny Care has now been added to most-hated list (along side Liam Williams, Keith Earls and others).

  59. walker on

    we were outmuscled up front. the back row are too lightweight for international games.vunipola actually picked up du preez and threw him away. not many for nz now

    • RuggersB on

      We were playing with 3 7’s today against a back row that could all play 2nd row.
      All they had to do was hold onto the ball.

      I’m a big fan of all 3 of our back row… Wilson, Barclay and Watson …but playing all 3 against big powerful packs is never going to end well.

      We desperately need a powerful #8 …and #6 for that matter… to rise up.

      Im not totally sold on Russell yet…. he does on occasion do great things…. but can also be anonymous ….and makes far too many poor decisions at this level which has such fine margins.

      Just a dire all round performance today.

      There is no way Gatland will pick players who lack power in their positions. Its just not his brand of rugby. He stated before the match that the result wasn’t everything….the performance was most important. Scotland had neither.

  60. James on

    Oh dear!

    ESPN are saying we ended with 77% tackle completion. You are going to get punished with a stat like that. Crucial line outs messed up. Scrum creaked then got punished. We had equal pack weights so how were we so under powered compared to England? And do we not practice scrum technique?!

    So many mistakes it took me right back to the bad old days. Ok, man in the bin inside 2 mins (lucky not to be a red, think that used up all our good grace with the ref straight off!) and 10 pints down but you keep calm and remember your training. Our midfield defence was horrific.

    For much of the game it was rabbit in headlights stuff. But when we were composed we made ground. Perhaps it is mental weakness as much as physical and today will be a big lesson for the future…

    As for the ref, yes some odd calls but we didn’t help ourselves. Too much handbags after the whistle. Barclay getting the defensive scrum (not a penalty from my viewing) turned into an attacking penalty- gone from the calm hero against Wales to panto villan! And it was the TMO who called the none yellow for Hughes, ref wanted to give it as a cumulative for a previous tackle by someone else with no warning. Now that is a weird call. Plus it was only late, not high and he did try and wrap his other arm.

    Poor stuff, worrying injuries but I’m still hopeful for next week. It won’t be a cricket score but a bp win would salve the wounds a bit.

    • Prager on

      Agree with most of that, but thought the scrum actually did ok. You’re right about the TMO calls too. I think the ref thought Seymour was knocked out by the tackle, when in fact it was the accidental contact with Jonny’s arm.

      Talking of which, anybody know what happened to Hogg? Bit of a mystery and no replays.

    • Feepole on

      Agree James. No point in complaining about the ref. Entirely a bed of our own making. You’re right about the Fraser Brown tackle – clearly no ref wants to hand out red card within 2 mins, but he did treat Barclay through rest of the game a bit like he’d used up his credits.

      When we went through the phases we made ground. Just think we never regrouped after the horror show of first 20 minutes.

      Just come to the realisation that, to add insult to injury, I may have to shout for England next week!

      • 1.8T on

        Totally agree, the card was a disaster that we never recovered from, it rattled everyone and put the ref against us. When I saw it again I thought it was a red and think we were fortunate it wasn’t. Although in hindsight it’s a pity it wasn’t red, at least it would be an excuse for the cricket score! Add the injury calamities and it threw all the boys off their game, it shouldn’t have but it did. Then we had people trying to force the game and the mistakes not so much crept in as came in torrents. Russell and Dunbar had horror shows and the Grays and the back row were outgunned.

        All that said we did still score 3 tries and made decent ground when we did keep it together…… ok there are no positives.

        Italy will no doubt decide they want to try next weekend. It is a must win game, the confidence will be shot and beating Italy well will prove that this was a one off, to the guys themselves as much as us.

  61. RuggersB on

    I think part of the reason our players stood off England was tactics. VC said before the match he wanted the players to pace themselves so that they had energy levels later in the match. He said he wanted them to select opportunities to contest ball to reserve energy. This, if correct, totally backfired. We gave England free momentum and they took full advantage.

    VC generally is a sound tactician…but this one was a fail… in many aspects of play.

    • Rory Baldwin on

      Surely that would be in terms of the breakdown, eg when to challenge the ruck and when not to? That’s not the same as the defensive line warily crabbing and holding off tackles which was the key problem in the three identical tries, I can’t think he told them to do that.

  62. Frozen North on

    Well done England…glad you showed Scotland such respect by saving your best performance for us – appreciated!

    This is and can only be seen as a blip, Scotland’s dawn continues, undaunted.

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