All the teams news, battle areas and TV details you need for the Calcutta Cup clash at Twickenham
Six Nations England v Scotland Preview
On 5 March 1983, Billie Jean by Michael Jackson crested at the top of the UK single charts. On the same day, Scotland rugby were ‘the one’ – beating England at Twickenham, 22-12.
That was the last time the Scots triumphed in London. An era when hits were played on a Walkman, a try was worth four points, double denim was cool, and England finished rock bottom of the Five Nations table. Today some things are very different; some things same-same.
With rugby in 2021, headbands are back in, but crowds are not. So let’s cling to what we are safe in knowing.
Related: Tales of the Calcutta Cup
England are reigning Six Nations champions. They are the holders of the Calcutta Cup, having won a soggy and stodgy affair in Edinburgh last time out, and are a menacing force when they get going. They have a slew of injuries to recognised stars, particularly in the pack, but still have plenty of firepower.
Finn Russell returns to Twickenham – the man credited with masterminding that crazy comeback in the 38-38 draw in 2019. Centres Cameron Redpath and Ollie Lawrence are friends from when they were England U20 team-mates, but now face off in Six Nations debuts.
This is also the 150th anniversary of this fixture, so to mark the occasion, Scotland will have the corresponding name from the 1871 team embroidered on the players’ shirts. England will wear their own retro shirts.
That first-ever match between these rivals ended in a draw. The last match between these two at Twickenham was a draw, too. Neither team will want that result, but let’s hope it has all the same excitement – and not a downbeat repeat of England’s sodden win at Murrayfield last year.
What’s the big team news?
Powerpack Lawrence made his England debut in the autumn, but gets his first Six Nations start. The move to pair him in the centres with Henry Slade is seen as a lovely balancing act, with Owen Farrell in the ten shirt and George Ford on the bench. That midfield grouping is an exciting one.
England have injuries and absences to contend with in the pack, with Mako Vunipola hurt, Kyle Sinckler suspended, Joe Marler opting out, and Sam Underhill and Joe Launchbury also injured. So Ellis Genge and Will Stuart start, with Beno Obano in line for a debut off the bench. Jonny Hill partners Maro Itoje in the boilerhouse and Mark Wilson starts in the back-row – Courtney Lawes is a good back-five option off the bench. And there is plenty of excitement about Max Malins entering the fray.
For Scotland, Cameron Redpath is thrown straight in. Son of former Scotland captain Bryan, he forms a centre partnership with Chris Harris. There are weapons all around too, with Russell hoping to orchestrate, and Duhan van der Merwe and skipper Stuart Hogg in the back three.
Sean Maitland also starts on the wing, possibly to offer an defensive and kick-fielding safety net.
But it is the up-front battle that will come into keen focus for Scotland. In the absence of Stuart McInally and Fraser Brown, George Turner gets the spot in the hooker position and Matt Fagerson is in at No 8. Off the bench, can Gary Graham and returning Richie Gray offer some oomph?
Jamie Ritchie and Hamish Watson will always be nightmares at the breakdown. But will streetsmarts beat England’s undeniable might?
What have the coaches said?
England coach Eddie Jones said: “You listen to the Scottish and how much it means to them: it’s their biggest game of the year, their most important game, they are playing for trophies.
“That’s a huge expectation for them and maybe, with 15 minutes to go in the game, the expectation is going to get pretty heavy for them.”
Scotland boss Gregor Townsend said: “It’s always a pleasure to welcome a new player into our squad and we are looking forward to Cam Redpath winning his first cap on Saturday. We have been really impressed with Cam’s contributions in the time he has been with us in camp.”
Any interesting statistics?
- This rivalry goes back 150 years.
- It has been 38 years since Scotland have won at Twickenham.
- Eddie Jones was 23 when Scotland last won at Twickenham.
- After the birth of Cameron, Bryan Redpath played England three times… And lost them all.
- The odds of a draw here in 39/1.
- Egland have beaten Scotland 76 times in their history. Scotland have won 43.
What time does it kick off and is it on TV?
England v Scotland, Saturday 6 February, Twickenham
This Test kicks off at 4.45pm 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.
Andrew Brace of Ireland will oversee the Calcutta Cup clash. He will be assisted by Mathieu Raynal and Pascale Gauzere (France) and Federico Anselmi (Argentina), with James Leckie (Australia) as TMO.
What are the line-ups?
England: Elliot Daly; Anthony Watson, Henry Slade, Ollie Lawrence, Jonny May; Owen Farrell (captain), Ben Youngs; Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Will Stuart, Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill, Mark Wilson, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola.
Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Beno Obano, Harry Williams, Courtney Lawes, Ben Earl, Dan Robson, George Ford, Max Malins.
Scotland: Stuart Hogg (captain); Sean Maitland, Chris Harris, Cameron Redpath, Duhan van der Merwe; Finn Russell, Ali Price; Rory Sutherland, George Turner, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Jonny Gray, Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Matt Fagerson.
Replacements: David Cherry, Oli Kebble, WP Nel, Richie Gray, Gary Graham, Scott Steele, Jaco van der Walt, Huw Jones.
The latest issue of Rugby World magazine – a Six Nations special – is in shops now.