This year is different. How many times have we heard that over the last twelve months? The global pandemic has changed so much of our lives and normal no longer exists and it is the same in international rugby. For so long now, Scotland have travelled south to face England at Twickenham and returned north empty handed and with their pride severely dented. This time, however, the Scots claimed a stunning 11-6 victory on English soil for the first time since 1983 to clinch the Calcutta Cup.
France, Wales and Ireland will be boosted by this shock, colossal result and the Six Nations has been blown wide open.
Having been battered, bruised and beaten so often in the capital, this was only Scotland’s fifth victory over the Auld Enemy but boy did they deserve it? They took full advantage of the ‘new normal’ and were in England’s faces from the off. Knowing the Red Rose would have to do without their usually boisterous crowd of 82,000, Scotland were boosted and rallied while Eddie Jones looked alone and deserted. Jonny Wilkinson, working as an ITV pundit, commented before the game that you simply cannot rely on the fans to push you through the game and must have the hunger from within. From minute one, you could see that hunger deep within Scotland’s players and they knew full well they had never had such a perfect chance to beat England.
The visitors started brightly and with plenty of intent, chasing every lost cause and hunting in packs. It was an irritable England display as they failed to click. Yes, Saracens trio Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and Jamie George have barely featured for months but to suggest that was the reason for Saturday’s defeat would be a major disservice to Scotland.
The England players may be rusty but while Farrell, so reliable, was able to convert his penalties to make it more than 100 points against Scotland for him personally, beyond that the hosts offered little and were stunted. The fact they had just 30 percent possession with twenty minutes remaining tells a story.
Stuart Hogg beamed at the end of the game and told ITV: “It’s amazing for us, we can’t repeat what’s happened in the past but we can change the future. We got excited during the week, we knew we could put in a performance and if we got everything right. We’re going to enjoy this one I assure you.”
England coach Eddie Jones admitted he “didn’t prepare the team well enough” and accepted responsibility for the display before insisting “It is what it is” when asked of his players’ lack of game time. He and his team must go back to the drawing board but right now, their favourites tag has been hugely dented.
Former Scotland lock Jim Hamilton insisted, “[This is the] best I’ve seen Scotland play ever,” while Sir Clive Woodward claimed the score flattered England and many will agree. The Scots were ecstatic at the final whistle, delighted having written the name into the folklore of the nation.