All the teams news, battle areas and TV details you need for the Six Nations match between England and Scotland at Twickenham
Six Nations England v Scotland Preview
It is the Calcutta Cup after all. And there is no love lost when it comes to this fixture…
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So much of the narrative in the build-up to this one has been about English determination to put the Scots in their place. At Murrayfield last season, Scotland triumphed 25-13, putting on an offensive show while England toiled at the breakdown. That defeat set in motion an English losing streak that lasted five Tests (and a loss to the Barbarians).
There is more though. Last time out there was plenty of niggle, with Scotland flanker Ryan Wilson at the forefront of it all. The same player has also been accused of booing England stars at a World Rugby awards do as well – something that was mentioned this week on BBC 5live’s Rugby Union Weekly podcast.
Oh yeah, and there was that incident last year, on a train out of Edinburgh, when Eddie Jones was harassed.
Throw in the mix the fact Scotland have not won at Twickenham since 1983 and that they have endured horrendous luck with injuries during this year’s tournament and you can feel the pressure building.
England are heavily fancied as high as 1/14 in some quarters, with Scotland at 10/1. The handicap for England is set at 19 points. So we all expect a snarling, unforgiving England display. Can the Scots once again turn expectations on their head? Their Six Nations has been one where they have been so close to big victories and yet so far. This is their greatest test.
The Calcutta Cup is the oldest rugby trophy in existence. There is a rich, varied, sometimes funny and often incendiary history behind this rivalry. But everything here is about recent history and, more importantly, pulling the curtain down on the 2019 Six Nations.
What’s the big team news?
There is surprise in plenty quarters that despite Joe Cokanasiga entertaining against Italy last week, the explosive winger drops out of the squad completely, with Jack Nowell picked instead.
Explaining his decision Jones said: “With all young players you have to look after them, sometimes they need to be exposed and sometimes they need to be pulled back.
“I don’t need to test him. I know he is a good player, now it is about making sure he is a good player for a long period of time, not a short period of time.”
Henry Slade also returns to the starting line-up, replacing Ben Te’o, who drops to the bench. Ben Youngs will win his 85th cap making him England’s most capped scrum-half ever.
In the pack Ben Moon starts alongside Jamie George and Kyle Sinckler and the only other change is Mark Wilson returning to the XV, in place of Brad Shields.
Related: Read Tales of the Calcutta Cup
Gregor Townsend has made six changes to his side that narrowly lost to Wales last weekend, with some tactical moves and plenty of decisions made for him due to their injury woes.
Jonny Gray, Jamie Ritchie and Josh Strauss have all dropped out of the startling line-up with Ben Toolis, Sam Skinner and the pinballing Hamish Watson coming in after his wrecking-ball performance against Wales. Magnus Bradbury has also shifted from blindside flanker to No 8.
In the back-line, Sean Maitland comes in to replace Blair Kinghorn, and then Sam Johnson and Byron McGuigan have been named as starters in the place of Peter Horne and Tommy Seymour.
What have the coaches said?
England boss Eddie Jones said of events happening in Cardiff before this game: “We will be interested, that is human nature. We have not told the players anything about what to do during the game, they will each treat it differently. Some will want to watch it, some won’t want to watch it.
“It is going to be very tight. I think Wales are definitely tiring but Ireland are coming to a peak so it will be a close old game. But we need to be ready to play come kick off.”
Gregor Townsend of Scotland said: “If no-one thinks we’re going to win then that’s fine. We believe we can win and that’s what we’re working to do. Scotland teams tend to be underdogs on a number of occasions and it usually brings the best out in them.
“We’re very motivated and full of energy. There were a lot of positive aspects against Wales, a quality team. We know we have to improve again to win at Twickenham.”
Any interesting statistics?
- These two have met 136 times since 1871. England have won 75, Scotland have won 43.
- In just 22 minutes last week, Hamish Watson beat ten defenders – the most in Scotland’s Six Nations history.
- England wing Jonny May has scored 17 times at Twickenham.
- England won by 40 points (61-21) last time these two met at Twickenham.
- Nine – that’s how old coach Gregor Townsend was the last time Scotland won at Twickenham, in 1983. None of the current Scotland team were alive.
- On average, England have scored a try every three minutes of possession in this year’s championship.
- Highlights of Scotland’s Calcutta Cup win last season, on the official Six Nations YouTube channel, have been watched over 239,000 times.
What time does it kick off and is it on TV?
England v Scotland, Saturday 16 March, Twickenham
This Test kicks off at 5pm on Saturday afternoon. It is live on ITV in the UK and Virgin Media One in Ireland. Commentary will also be live on BBC Radio 5 live and RTE.
Paul Williams of New Zealand is the man inn the middle for this one, refereeing in the Six Nations for the very first time. His first ever Test also featured Scotland – he whistled their game against Italy in Singapore two years ago. His touchline assistants are Jerome Garces of France and Federico Anselmi of Argentina. Kiwi Ben Skeen is the TMO.
What are the line-ups?
England: Elliot Daly; Jack Nowell, Henry Slade, Manu Tuilagi, Jonny May; Owen Farrell, Ben Youngs; Ben Moon, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Joe Launchbury, George Kruis, Mark Wilson, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola.
Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge, Dan Cole, Brad Shields, Nathan Hughes, Ben Spencer, George Ford, Ben Te’o.
Scotland: Sean Maitland; Darcy Graham, Nick Grigg, Sam Johnson, Byron McGuigan; Finn Russell, Ali Price; Allan Dell, Stuart McInally (capt), Willem Nel, Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist, Sam Skinner, Hamish Watson, Magnus Bradbury.
Replacements: Fraser Brown, Gordon Reid, Simon Berghan, Jonny Gray, Josh Strauss, Greig Laidlaw, Adam Hastings, Chris Harris.