Thousands of Scottish rugby fans must surely be thinking that their team are now favourites to beat England at Murrayfield because the ancient foe has major players missing because of injury.
Having won at Twickenham in last season’s tournament and then making decent progress in the autumn internationals in which Tonga, Australia and Japan were overcome, Scotland are in fine shape with arguably their best squad of players for several years.
Coach Gregor Townsend inspired his team to three victories in the 2021 Six Nations with wins against England, France in Paris and Italy, so Scotland are highly competitive and possess a set of forwards which is mobile, aggressive and productive.
Forwards like Hamish Watson, Rory Sutherland, Jamie Ritchie, Zander Fagerson and Johnny Gray are recognised as genuine top players and roared on by a crowd of more than 60,000, they’ll attack England, some of whose players will not have experienced the Murrayfield atmosphere.
So, there’s a strong case for backing Scotland, not least because they’re playing at home and because England have been weakened by injury.
Scotland Will be Hoping for Match Winning Displays from Hogg and Russell
The quality of the Scotland pack is there for all to see, and it should be stressed, the quality of the three quarters is of a high standard too.
Full back and captain Stuart Hogg is not only Scotland’s record try scorer with 25, but he is also one of the best ever players produced by his country .
The Exeter Chiefs star, who’s also appeared for the British and Irish Lions, has been capped more than 80 times, and whether he’s counterattacking up field or playing reliably in defence, Hogg’s an outstanding international and one who can generate so much enthusiasm and noise from the crowd.
Similarly with fly half Finn Russell who has as many tricks in his locker as England’s Marcus Smith. Capped more than 50 times, Russell is one of the most creative and enterprising players in world rugby with the ability to set alight the backs outside him.
On his day, one of the most threatening opponents a side can face in Test rugby, Russell is a delight to watch and a fly half to be feared.
His partnership with scrum half Ali Price, another British and Irish Lion and capped more than 40 times, operates with authority, and if these two can outplay England’s half backs, Ben Youngs(111 apps) and Smith, Scotland may go on to repeat their Murrayfield victories against England in 2000, 2006, 2008 and 2018.
If Scotland play to their full potential at home, there’s every reason to put money on them to retain the Calcutta Cup and repeat last season’s 11-6 win at Twickenham.
Scotland’s Fixtures in the Six Nations
- Saturday Feb 5th: v England at Murrayfield
- Saturday Feb 12th: v Wales at Cardiff
- Saturday Feb 26th: v France at Murrayfield
- Sat March 12th: v Italy in Rome
- Saturday March 19th: v Ireland in Dublin