Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


England v Scotland, Six Nations 2023: Match Preview pt I

England vs Scotland
pic © Scottish Rugby Blog

KO 4.45 at Twickenham Stadium
Saturday 4th February 2023

Live on ITV1

It’s hard to overstate just how unusual the recent run of results between these two countries is. From the end of the Gand Slam game in 1990 until 2017, Scotland and England met 29 times with 3 wins for the Scots, 1 draw and 26 losses. Since 2018 they have played on 5 occasions with 3 wins for the Scots, 1 draw and 1 loss.

The dark blues’ win (in 2021) and draw (in 2019) came after their previous 9 visits to Twickenham in the Six Nations had seen 9 losses by an aggregate score of 340 – 134.

Scotland are aiming for back to back victories at the home of English rugby – which would be the same number of wins they managed at that venue in the previous 83 years. They are also looking for a third consecutive triumph over England at all venues which has only happened twice in the last 100 years.

There is also the chance to get the Six Nations off to a positive start with a Round 1 win for the third year running. Given how slow out of the gate the Scots have historically been in these tournaments the turnaround in recent seasons has been fairly remarkable.

Round 1 results for Scotland in the Six Nations:

  • 2000 – L
  • 2001 – L
  • 2002 – L
  • 2003 – L
  • 2004 – L
  • 2005 – L
  • 2006 – W
  • 2007 – L
  • 2008 – L
  • 2009 – L
  • 2010 – L
  • 2011 – L
  • 2012 – L
  • 2013 – L
  • 2014 – L
  • 2015 – L
  • 2016 – L
  • 2017 – W
  • 2018 – L
  • 2019 – W
  • 2020 – L
  • 2021 – W
  • 2022 – W

England Scouting Report

A new broom?

Replacing Eddie Jones with a man who was Jones’ assistant with both Japan and England doesn’t immediately suggest a revolution. Given England’s resources though it’s very possible that Steve Borthwick doesn’t need to tear down the edifice and start again – in fact, the simple fact of not being Eddie Jones might be enough to reinvigorate an English setup that won the Six Nations in 2016, 2017 and 2020 as well as reaching a World Cup final and securing an historic (well it is the only one ever…) Autumn Nations Cup triumph.

That they then seemingly fell off a cliff instead of pushing on to greater heights possibly speaks more to the potent but short-term nature of the impact Eddie Jones’ style of coaching can have and, quite simply, how long players can tolerate him for (5 years Australia – really?!?)

Steve Borthwick has had minimal time to make significant changes – his short-term goal may simply to be to get his players playing at or near their potential and all pulling in the same direction. These are simple concepts but ones that can prove frustratingly ephemeral for many coaches. With the playing base available to him though, England should be in the top echelon of Test rugby alongside potential RWC winners France, Ireland, New Zealand and South Africa rather than scratching around with the next rank who can, by or large, beat most sides on their day but lack the consistency to be real contenders.

Fortress Twickenham?

It’s well established that, until very recently, Twickenham hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Scotland. It’s also fair to say though that it’s not a ground that has been particularly welcoming for any visitors over the years. Since crashing out of the 2015 World Cup – after back to back losses in front of their own fans against Wales and Australia – England maintained an 89% win percentage at their home venue until the start of 2022.

Across 2019, 2020 and 2021, England won 16 out of their 18 home fixtures – no doubt all Scottish fans are well aware who accounted for the defeat and the draw to spoil the Auld Enemy’s perfect record during this period…The tail end of the Jones’ era brought with it some pretty dreadful form at the Cabbage Patch though with just a single victory (over Japan) in their last 5 home games.

Despite these recent struggles, no one should be under any illusion as to the scale of the task facing Scotland on Saturday. Twickenham remains one of the most difficult grounds on the international circuit for a visiting side to come away with a positive result. Ireland and South Africa have done it by blunting, in fact trumping, English physicality. Argentina just had to dig in, make their tackles and take every scoring opportunity when it came along. Scotland v2021 used an astute tactical kicking game to pressurise their hosts. What will Scotland v2023 bring to the table? If rumours are to be believed it will be Russell + Huwipulotu and the potential for an absolutely banging attacking game…


  • Against South Africa, the English scrum conceded 9 penalties or free kicks – Steve Borthwick seems to have responded directly to those struggles by recalling veteran Dan Cole to steady the ship. Scotland themselves conceded some most unfortunately timed scrum pens in the Autumn – both sides will be eying opportunities to win the advantage up front.
  • Billy Vunipola was comfortably England’s busiest carrier during the Autumn Nations Series. While the giant number 8 may not have been as dynamic as he was before, his work rate was still voluminous. With the younger Vunipola omitted from the squad this time round, there will be plenty of opportunity for other options to involve themselves in the game. With the likes of Alex Dombrandt, Sam Simmonds and Ben Earl available for the home side, the Scottish defence will have far more to think about than the straightforward (if admittedly very effective over many years) bashing up from Billy.
  • After missing the 2022 Six Nations, Owen Farrell has played all 560 minutes of England’s last 7 Tests. England’s skipper will, barring injury (or a card…), be out there for the full 80 against Scotland – but will it be at 10 or 12?

Previous results

This will be the 12th time the two sides have met in London for a Six Nations’ match. The head to head looks like this from Scotland’s perspective:


England 6 – 11 Scotland

Significant stat
78 – the number of kicks from hand by the two teams. Scotland put boot to ball on 43 occasions – the most for any game in the Townsend era. This certainly wasn’t a case of kicking possession away though but rather winning the territorial battle (70% in England’s half) and pressuring the opposition into handing the ball back in advantageous areas (65% possession for Scotland). Many of the other key stats also point to a dominant Scottish performance (eg clean breaks to 11 – 0; tackle breaks 29 – 11; only 1 ruck out of 117 lost; 100% at the setpiece) that probably should have ended in a much more comfortable victory.

The Scottish Rugby Blog match report from that game is here.


Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant Referee 1: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant Referee 2: James Doleman (New Zealand)
TMO: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)

Mr Williams has yet to preside over a Scotland defeat which is a positive – if entirely meaningless – omen. The Kiwi whistler had an annual appointment with the dark blues from 2017 to 2020 but, after taking charge of the last pre-Covid match v France, he hasn’t been sighted since in any Scottish fixtures. In that previous encounter, he did of course send off Mohamed Haouas after the French prop decided to test his fist against Jamie Ritchie’s metal cheek. This time round the Edinburgh flanker will be Scotland’s skipper – hopefully still annoying opponents but maybe in less incendiary ways!

Scotland’s last games with Mr Williams in charge:

  • 2017 – beat Italy (N)
    Penalties: 26 (For 17 – 9 Against)
    Cards: Italy 2 YCs
  • 2018 – beat Argentina (H)
    Penalties: 17 (For 7 – 10 Against)
    Cards: none
  • 2019 – drew with England (A)
    Penalties: 11 (For 5 – 6 Against)
    Cards: none
  • 2020 – beat France (H)
    Penalties: 18 (For 11 – 7 Against)
    Cards: France 1 YC + 1 RC

Part II of the preview, including the head to heads, will follow on Friday after the team announcement on Thursday.

The Team

UPDATE: They snuck in early with the Toony Tombloa to end all Tombolas this morning: no Zander, Harris on the bench, Crosbie at 7! Here’s the team:

Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Kyle Steyn, Huw Jones, Sione Tuipulotu, Duhan van der Merwe, Finn Russell, Ben White; Pierre Schoeman, George Turner, WP Nel, Richie Gray, Grant GIlchrist, Jamie Ritchie (capt), Luke Crosbie, Matt Fagerson.
Replacements: Fraser Brown, Jamie Bhatti, Simon Berghan, Jonny Gray, Jack Dempsey, George Horne, Blair Kinghorn, Chris Harris.

53 Responses

  1. Scotland beat England twice in a week , home and away in 1971. They also won in 1970 and 1972 at Murrayfield , a winning run of 4 concurrent games. It can be done but will need a lot of something as well as 80 minutes of flawless rugby.

    1. Flawless rugby is impossible and you don’t need it. You need good decisions and make less crucial mistakes than opposition.

      Wish we’d stop coming out with nonsense that doesn’t make sense.

      No one has the perfect game no where near….only ones than come close is nilling the opposition and how often does that happen in international rugby?

      1. Oh someone got out of bed on the wrong side. Well I dont entirely agree with you . Some flaws can change a game, some less directly as they kill morale. I suppose you might call them ‘Crucial’ but flaws none the less.

        How many times have we seen it. A missed penalty touch , Hogg dropping the ball over the line to let Ireland off with it etc, etc. So no , I am not letting you get away with tarnishing my comment. Some flaws , are very costly and these pages are full of it, week in , week out.

      2. I’m happy enough…just get annoyed with lazy language.

        I get what yer saying…but flaws are only highlighted when they are costly and capitalised on. Did we play flawless rugby 2021 at Twickenham? No but England didn’t punish us early. We don’t go on about that we say that was an 80 mins performance…it really wasn’t…we did enough we played very well but England made errors after producing the mistake from us.

        So often its a bad error after bad error that costs you. So that’s important….

        …we have so many brain dead moments to look back on…5 in the last 5 mins in 2019 to draw the game. But had we only had 4 we’d have won that.

        Asking for perfection is futile…making less crucial errors and not compounding errors is important.

        I’m hopeful but uneasy for Sat. Could be a high scorer…we go way ahead early I’d be less confident we struggle with a lead at times

      3. If you dont like lazy language , put your talents to use . Let me set you a challenge. How about the words ‘world class’. Yes , go for that. What does that lazy compellation actually mean.

        These pages are full of lazy language , the papers are full of it, the pundits we praise and extol like demigods of rugby say it every day ‘world class’.

        As far as I am concerned, it is meaningless. But ‘flawless’, a real word with a comprehensive meaning, rightly or wrongly in context, is universally understandable. An easy target for grammar police.

        You didn’t think I mean that we could go a whole game without giving them a scrum, lineout , penalty, stray kick, did you ,mm surely you didn’t ? did you !

      4. I’m not keen to fallout on this…and I do understand partly your point but are you understanding my point?

        You can make errors and lose tries and still win. All teams do it and yet some are winners more often than others. Ireland and France have both learned that…they are not flawless and don’t need flawless games to win.

        The open field we botched against France turned the game last year…that came from surely French mistakes? Yes I think that cost us a chance in that game but it doesn’t mean you need flawless rugby.

        We deserved to win Eng game in 2021 but as I’ve said we should have been down by more points than we scored that day in first 5 mins. Not so flawless rugby won the game deservedly.

        Thinking back we snatched and grabbed 2022…not in a month of Sundays did we deserve that one and made loads of mistakes but we hung in got some inspiration for last 15mins and made some smart calls in amongst the very average definitely flawful rugby.

        World class as far as I understand it is a player playing at a standard that would be the best player in their position across the world at that time. I don’t tend to say that stuff too often but I do understand the sentiment.

        Flawless is also fairly straight forward… without flaw, perfect, without error, something that is remarkable.

        I’ve yet to see the perfect performance in sport…both team and individual for everyone makes mistakes…but those that win and learn to continually do so recover from error to move on quickly and focus on what they can influence.

        Fin Russell a fine example if this and he is far from flawless but he is glorious….let’s hope they do enough of the right stuff tomorrow so we can enjoy a flawless trophy once again.

  2. Random aside – Vern Cotter has quit as Fiji coach 8 months out from the RWC. So far only reasons given in press are ‘personal reasons’. Not really a good look and devastating for the Fijian squad who’ll want to make an impact on a group they might see as one they can qualify from.

    1. Sorry to read that. Will a new coach really make such a difference! Wales Just sacked theirs and went back to the future. I think their ambitions are far greater ranging than the Fijians.

  3. Toonie with some big – and maybe surprising – calls that will wrongfoot his critics.

    I’d have preferred Maitland, Redpath on the bench, Skinner on the bench. But largely this is a team picked on form that wants to pose a threat and take the take by the scruff of the neck. Excited and nervous now! Roll on Saturday.

  4. strap in, this is an exciting team. No Z Fag, but I did not see him benching Harris for Huwipulotu. Does it make a difference that he’s playing them the opposite way round from Glasgow? Big chance for Crosbie. Hornito on the bench, does he take the kicks over Kinghorn? When was the last time Jones and Finn played together?

    1. Saw some analysis on Glasgow forum of where Huw and Sione actually stood in the line – long story short they mixed it up continually but more often then not in the others nominal position. So I hope it doesn’t make much difference and they’ll be similarly fluid for Scotland.

      1. I think this selection probably reflects that this probably isn’t a must win game for Scotland. They have to win their three home games so it’s not worth rushing Zander back but it is worth pushing the boat out bit with the attack. Given it’s Englands first game under Borthwick, see how quickly they have got up to speed with their defensive system.

      2. I think Sam has a good observation there. It is a roll of the dice.

        I think the front row will suffer, and dont get a strong feeling about the bench. I doubt we can go far wrong with Dempsey, Bhatti or Horne but if Harris was called in it would change the game and Kinghorn must be so confused by now as to where he fits. Berghan and Brown are penalty likely, all our hookers are suspect with darts , lets hope it is a wind free day. Richie Gray =colossus and all of his years , experience and presence were made of this match.

  5. Can’t really complain at that team, well maybe Healy/Redpath on bench.

    GT always surprises doesn’t he???

    It’s down to the players now, Crosbie’s inclusion may be key he has the physicality and attitude to take the fight to the English, forward impact from the bench too….

    1. Worried about the bench actually.

      Dempsey and Horne could give some impetus if we are chasing but the rest of the forward subs are hardly game changers and I worry about Brown’s discipline if we are defending a lead.

      I can see a place for Harris on the bench if we need to defend a lead but I can’t see any justification for Kinghorn on the bench.

      Given the starting midfield, we don’t need to cover the centres from the bench so I would have gone with Healy and Maitland.

      1. Or perhaps Healy and Redpath as Jones is familiar with back 3 duties/cover. And yes, tough on Skinner to not even get a bench spot. GT has sensibly rested/omitted Fagerson and Watson, so would have thought Gray would get extra time too as Skinner is no dip in quality.
        Just hope that going for the in form selection for once reaps a big reward on Saturday.

  6. What a great team given availability. Picked on form/fitness which is really all we can ask for – over to the players!! Particularly pleased to see White & Jones starting.

  7. As was talked about on The BBC Scotland Rugby podcast you don’t get away with mistakes at test rugby….another soundbite that’s nonsense.

    You may well not get away with as much but looking back in 2021 we rode our luck early on.

    Three times Price was under pressure in our 22…twice charged down and but for luck and English discipline we’d have been 14-0 down early…whole different game.

    You could say Wales got away with stuff in the following game that would have left us 2 from 2 and had France not been going for a championship we’d not have won the last game…a prime example of Harris never giving up and yes a team punishing another for a big error of judgement.

    So staying in the game is pretty important especially at Twickenham (however Scotland have now disproved that isn’t essential either)

    Just watched Squidge’s rugby kicking video….that was crucial in 2021 and 2022 three fine kicks won that one.

    So Russell and Hogg do their stuff there we’ll be ok

    1. I love this had France not been going for title. Prior to Dulin’s moment of madness? Antonio clear as day played the ball on the ground to turn the ball over. Had the Ref not had his head up his rear? YC and Scotland have a pen. What ifs are fun.

      1. James.

        Same about Wales that year…in last play. Harris had the ball jackaled and stick on pen…he was on it for 5 seconds…crazy stuff from ref.

        About France if they had only had to win ball straight off park well before…agree about Antonio too.

    2. It is harder to play away from home , in a noisy stadium. We have done well away to empty stadiums. Yet , it can work for you , this side have yet to manage to absorb it and allowing the stadium to go silent and the crowd pressure to move on to the opposition shoulders. The psychology of the rumble in the Jungle. Maybe this is will be it. Mind you , the rumble in the cabbage patch is never going to make the deadlines.

    3. Oft overlooked point in 2021 – if we’d scored anything more against Wales (or they less) we’d have won the championship, not just that match.

  8. Crackin team selection. Delighted Richie Gray starts, the line out is always less of a panic with his size. Huw Jones back, finally, what made Toony realise he’s class after so long is anyone’s guess. Would maybe have kept Redpath on bench, but I can see Harris brings a different game. Redpath will definitely get his moment though once he and Finn get a chance to combine at Bath. Kinghorn also good cover for a range of positions. Surprised by Price omission, is he injured or just off form? Now let’s hope discipline is good, and nerves are under control. Can’t wait.

  9. Whoof, here we go. Biiig statement for the first game of a huge year.

    Harris out is the big news here, I’m very surprised, especially given we’re playing a unknown quantity in Borthwicks England, and are likely to have to tweak our defensive system on the fly. If Townsend has decided our best bet is just to outscore teams, I’m absolutely here for it. 

    I’d say this team has a worse chance of beating England than the safety-first defensive model, and a better chance of beating Ireland (last time we did it, we blitzed them early and put points on the board, and then just about hung on). But this year, with the world cup, beating Ireland is the major goal.

  10. This game is huge for us, win we can look forward to Wales and Italy at MF with real confidence, lose and cant help but be wee bit deflated.
    I do reckon England will be more pragmatic and try and stop Russell, Crosbie and M.Fagerson have been in superb form so can we see Finn getting some space?
    Jones is magic, whatever had happened to his form is hopefully in the past.
    R.Gray brings a whole new assurance/threat to the line out. Surely the 50-22 is being practised right now??

  11. Wonder how much of the selection is down to having P Horne helping out? Given he played with Jones frequently he might have persuaded GT on that call. And dare I say it, probably helped younger brother get a bench spot. However, Horne Snr knows these keys from Glasgow training/matches so would have in depth knowledge of their current form.

    1. Toonie probably had Tandy in one ear pushing Harris’ case and Horne snr in the other backing his Glasgow lads. It’s a bold decision and I like it.

  12. Very bold from Toonie and fair play to him. Excited to see if Sione and Jones can replicate their club partnership. I wonder if the lack of ‘data’ on England’s style of play resulted in the decision to drop Harris and back our own attack for once. Let’s hope we have a lead to defend when Harris comes off the bench otherwise he may as well have been left out of the 23. Hoping to see the Pete Horne attacking playbook in full swing.

  13. yes happy with this team – only real preference from me would be Maitland for Steyn , but not clear cut. Has gone for form over reputation in a few instances, which I like.

    Huge game for us

  14. That looks like it could be a great backs combo…if they get enough ball could do some fair old damage.
    Pleased to see that back row ..Crosbie could be a cracking player at test level imo…all in good form and a balanced looking blend.. no obvious weakness…Dempsey on bench a very good option to bring on. All 6,7,8 eventualities looks covered with the combo.

    2nd row fair enough..R Gray massively improves lineup. Would have Skinner in there but hey ho.

    Front row….looks like it’ll either be competitive or a disaster penalty machine and not much in-between. Will probably be targeted.

    As with most 6N matches …pack success usually dictates the outcome.

  15. England team: Steward (Leicester); Malins (Saracens), Marchant (Harlequins), Farrell (Saracens, capt), Hassell-Collins (London Irish); Smith (Harlequins), Van Poortvliet (Leicester); Genge (Bristol), George (Saracens), Sinckler (Bristol), Itoje (Saracens), Chessum (Leicester), Ludlam (Northampton), Curry (Sale), Dombrandt (Harlequins).

    Replacements: Walker (Harlequins), Vunipola (Saracens), Cole (Leicester), Isiekwe (Saracens), Earl (Saracens), Youngs (Leicester), Lawrence (Bath), Watson (Leicester).

  16. Bill McLaren might have said ” they’re going to cause a wee bit of mischief ” about Scotland’s backs selection. We’ve got plenty of muscle in to pack too. I like the shape of this team.

  17. Well it looks like he has at least attempted to pick on form which is what most of us have been shouting for. Jones and Tui given just reward for their recent Glasgow performances and Ali Price being given his too. Big call leaving out Harris and Price though although I think it is the correct one. Would have maybe preferred Dempsey starting at 8 with Fagerson and 6 and Ritchie at 7 but someone has to go on the bench so fair enough.

    Not sure the bench is right, Hornito is exactly the kind of guy you bring on to mix things up but Kinghorn and Harris aren’t, for me they are kind of start or don’t play at all kind of guys.

    Roll on the weekend, I am strangely subdued about the start of the 6N this year, hopefully that bodes well as usually its mad optimism dashed at the first hurdle!

    1. Dead right: The bench is a mess. But fair play, he is finally listening to us. Personally I can see that the attacking flair of the Glasgow Centres will be fine if the ambitions of the back 3 do not compromise their contribution.

    2. For me, the bench is OK. I might have picked Price to see the game out but Horne has been playing better.

      Kinghorn has enough experience across 10/Wing/FB and I did say a few weeks ago here that Harris could be a good option to see out a lead.

      Would have preferred Skinner on the bench rather than Johnny but horses for courses.

      The one thing is that previous results aside, this has the potential to be a great game of rugby.

      It’s the hope that kills you ;)

  18. I’m obviously liking the look of the backs, like most of us. Having those two at centre gives Russell a lot more strings to pull. He studiously ignores Harris in my opinion, creating a black hole in our attack, but obviously he is stone wall in defence. With Manu not playing, I’m delighted to see Sione & Jones together. This is potentially one of the most exciting centre partnerships in the 6N.
    The front 5 worries me. Outside Schoemann, not enough ball carriers. I get that we need a solid lineout, but we don’t need GG as well as Richie. I would have preferred Skinner or Jonny.
    As to Crosbie, I just hope he translates his club form to an international. Some guys do this seamlessly: Darge, Watson. If it comes off, it’s a back row with some potential.

  19. On ball carriers has seemed to me that Richie Gray (especially) and Gilchrist have been carrying much more effectively this season. Throw in Turner,Crosbie and Fagerson and looks to me we are pretty well set up for ballcarriers.
    Like you would have preferred to see Skinner in there somewhere.

    1. Fair dues Ardent, Richie’s work rate has definitely improved, probably cos he’s been free of injuries for a decent spell. And you’re right about Fagerson. Either way, I’m right behind the boys. When was the last time we went to Twickenham with anything like this degree of optimism?

  20. In the absence of J Gray and Mish who will be the main tackle bots? Crosbie and M Fagerson? Is R Gray known for his tackling?

    1. Saint : Ritchie Gray does not need to be known for his tackling, does he! He is there for his line out and frankly years of experience in the toughest leagues in the hemisphere. What is the problem !

      1. Calm down pal. You seem like the sort of chap who could start an argument in a phone box. All I know is that brother Jonny is known for his tackling and defensive qualities and having not seen much of Richie I merely asked if the same applied to him. I know Hamish had stepped in as our top tackle machine when Jonny hadn’t been in the side and neither will be playing tomorrow.

    2. Would you prefer Jonny Gray over Richie Gray ? I see the point about tacking, we will need it , that English back row are menacing but Richie Gray has given Glasgow line out stability this season and it is making a difference. On balance , I am all for Richie Gray and for all his critics , Gilchrist has been going well in the line out recently and is solid in the scrum. His outfield play is much improved.

      1. I simply asked about Richie Gray’s tackling ability/rate to aid my own understanding. I didn’t have a pro Jonny/anti Richie agenda. I definitely concur that the lineout has improved significantly since Richie’s return to the side. Thanks for your response.

  21. I guess the head to heads will follow but now is time to look at their side and decide what we are up against. One name immediately jumps out : Alex Dombrandt . I have never seen him play a bad game , deadly in the red zone, try scoring machine.

    1. Totally agree re Dombrandt, fast for such a big guy, great hands and brute strength too. IMO one of the best players in Europe right now. Dempsey is showing a lot of promise and probably still needs to bed in at international level but it would be great if we had a Scottish Dombrandt clone

  22. Well with that selection its going to be entertaining. Lets hope our units gel quicker than the English ones and we can silence the crowd.

  23. Well, cannot complain about the midfield.

    Can see Dempsey, Gray and Horne coming on to make an impact.

    Tighthead feels like a worry depending on how he can last. But to begin with it’s Nel and Schoeman, so actually…

    White is the unknown really.

    Buckle up.

  24. Team not included this weekend

    Oli Smith – Darcy Graham – Mark Bennett – Cam Redpath – Sean Maitland – Adam Hastings – Ali Price – Andy Christie – Hamish Watson – Rory Darge – Sam Skinner – Scott Cummings – Zander Fagerson – Ewan Ashman – Rory Sutherland

    Kyle Rowe – Sam Johnson – Jamie Dobie – Magnus Bradbury – Kiran Mcdonald – Murphy Walker – Oli Kebble – Stuart McInally

    1. Nice one Neil. I’d probably have Dave Cherry somewhere in there but point well made – quite a few class players missing.

  25. Consensus from Glasgow board is that England team has been picked to kick a lot and attack fast from turnovers after contested kicks. Pack is mobile rather than brutal.

    Certainly our back 3 is not the most secure fielding high balls – on the other hand any poor or loose kicks will give them opportunities for Hogg and VDM to run back at them hard. I think if we can establish a decent set piece platform and win enough fats ball, we have the tools to break down their defence.

    I’m very nervous as no real instinct about how this game will play out. Not the scariest England team but any kind of win at Twickenham is a minor miracle.

    1. I thought Borthwick’s team selection presser was interesting and probably a bit too revealing. One example was him explaining that Marchant had been picked as he was familiar with running onto Marcus Smith’s dinks and chips over the top. Experienced coaches are usually more vague and don’t give away too much detail and so it could be a bit of a gift for Toonie.

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