Few sport rivalries in this world are as ancient as the one between England and Scotland in Rugby Union, playing for the Calcutta Cup, but in recent years, especially in the Six Nations, it’s been one of the more one-sided one’s as well.
Since the change to a six nations format, Scotland have won against England only three times, not winning the tournament even once, and adding another draw. They haven’t avoided losing at Twickenham since 1983, and going by recent results (losing their last three matches, including a home loss to Tonga), it’s not going to change this time.
England come in feeling quite good about themselves – not just because their impressive showing in last year’s 6 nations, Stuart Lancaster surprising many by winning four of five matches with a brand-new, young squad, including in France, but especially about beating the All Blacks 38-21, their first win against the World Champions since 2003, ending a nine match losing streak.
Manu Tuilagi is injured, which means Billy Twelvetrees will make his England debut in a new-look midfield alongside Brad Barritt. Another injured player is Alex Corbisiero at loose-head; Joe Marler will step in for him. Those are the only two changes to the side that beat the All-Blacks, out to prove it was more about their ability than the All-Blacks’ fatigue at the end of the year.
Scotland are hoping that New Zealand born winger Sean Maitland, qualifying to play for Scotland through his grandfather, is worth the “coversion”. A few other changes (six from the loss to Tonga) include players that haven’t worn Scotland jerseys for a while: Johnnie Beattie at number 8 and hooker Dougie Hall returning to the starting line-up after a six year break. Captain Kelly Brown, playing as the openside flanker, is probably the most important in the match when it comes to individual battles (facing Chris Robshaw), and his ability to dominate might be the precursor in a potential upset.
Prediction – England are obviously the more talented and deeper side. Sometimes that is countered by amazing effort or tactical brilliance, but it’s hard to see that coming from Scotland, with their interim head coach taking on his first test match.