In Review

Scotland vs. England Six Nations preview: Storm Ciara is heading for Murrayfield

Wild weather could see a Calcutta Cup kickathon between the rugby rivals

Scotland vs. England 

  • What: Six Nations round two
  • When: Saturday 8 February 
  • Where: BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh 
  • Start time: 4.45pm GMT 
  • TV coverage: live on BBC 

It’s been a stormy few days for English rugby following their thrashing by France but things could get even more tempestuous tomorrow when they play Scotland in the Calcutta Cup.

Weather reports indicate that Storm Ciara will sweep across Scotland, bringing heavy rain and high winds, both of which could have a significant bearing on the Six Nations clash. 

“I’ve been looking at the weather forecast every day and it has started to close in,” said Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend. “It’s now looking like it’ll be wet and windy around kick-off time.”

Asked if the conditions will affect his team tactics, Townsend replied: “It’ll be a factor in how we play. England kick the ball a lot - they average 33 kicks a game - so I don’t think they’ll kick it less because the weather is poor. 

“They’ll kick it more and we’ll have to deal with that. We have to make smart decisions if we are receiving ball in our half.”

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Calcutta kickathon

If the weather is as bad as predicted it will suit England more than their hosts.

Scotland are still without their experienced and talented fly-half Finn Russell - dropped after breaking a team curfew last month - and in his place they have the raw Adam Hastings. 

Russell is one of the game’s most astute fly-halves: adaptable, versatile and a master tactician. Hastings has talent but is still learning his craft at this level.

In contrast England have George Ford at No.10, another intelligent kicker who will know how to exploit the conditions. Alongside him at inside centre is captain Owen Farrell, who may be out of form at the moment but is still a crafty kicker of the ball.

Then again, if the Calcutta Cup does become a kickathon, expect Scotland to test the catching skills of England full-back George Furbank, who experienced a difficult international debut in Paris. His hands were buttery against France and Scotland will send some high balls his way early on.

Furbank has retained his place in a starting XV showing five changes from the side that lined up against France. 

Scrum-half Ben Youngs has been replaced by Willi Heinz, Courtney Lawes has given way to Lewis Ludlam in the back-row, Jonathan Joseph is in at centre for the injured Manu Tuilagi and the Saracens duo of Mako Vunipola and George Kruis come in for Joe Marler and Charlie Ewels at prop and lock.

Scotland have resisted making wholesale changes, despite their dispiriting defeat in Dublin, with No.8 Magnus Bradbury for Nick Haining their only shuffle in the side that lost to Ireland.

Up for it

Whatever the weather, England head coach Eddie Jones is expecting a torrid afternoon and he clearly hasn’t forgotten what happened in 2018 when there was a fracas in the tunnel before the game started. 

“We just have to be prepared for anything,” he said. “We know they are going to come at us, try and distract us and put us off our games and they were able to do that in the tunnel two years ago. 

“There could be more of the same this year or it could be something else.”

Six Nations: England tell Scotland ‘we hate you too’

Matchday squads

Scotland team
  • Starting XV: 15. Stuart Hogg (captain), 14. Sean Maitland, 13. Huw Jones, 12. Sam Johnson, 11. Blair Kinghorn, 10. Adam Hastings, 9. Ali Price; 1. Rory Sutherland, 2. Fraser Brown, 3. Zander Fagerson, 4. Scott Cummings, 5. Jonny Gray, 6. Jamie Ritchie, 7. Hamish Watson, 8. Magnus Bradbury 
  • Replacements: 16. Stuart McInally, 17. Allan Dell, 18. Simon Berghan, 19. Ben Toolis, 20. Nick Haining, 21. George Horne, 22. Rory Hutchinson, 23. Chris Harris
England team
  • Starting XV: 15 George Furbank, 14 Jonny May, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell (captain), 11 Elliot Daly, 10 George Ford, 9 Willi Heinz; 1 Mako Vunipola, 2 Jamie George, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 4 Maro Itoje, 5 George Kruis, 6 Lewis Ludlam, 7 Sam Underhill, 8 Tom Curry
  • Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 Courtney Lawes, 21 Ben Earl, 22 Ben Youngs, 23 Ollie Devoto

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