'I don't think they have anything to fear': England's aura of invincibility over Scotland has gone
Glasgow Warriors and Scotland hooker Fraser Brown believes the current squad has built a reputation that has been able to change the narrative around Scotland’s status as perennial underdogs against their arch rivals.
Speaking on the BBC Radio Scotland podcast with Andy Burke and Tom English, the 54-test veteran was asked whether Scotland have chipped away from the aura of invincibility that England hold over the side.
“Definitely,” Brown responded, “When I started, England was the biggest game of the season because it has always traditionally been the biggest game of the season. England have been one of the top teams in the world every single year. One of top teams in the Six Nations every single year.
“I think we are so used to England, if they aren’t in the top two in the Six Nations, it’s been a disappointing campaign for them. That’s how it’s been.
“So from my point of view, that’s how it’s been seen since 2000 when the Six Nations started.
“England have the player numbers, they have the finances, they have the league structure, they’ve got the clubs, there’s always been that sense that Scotland are the underdogs against England.
“Even when England have come up to Murrayfield, Scotland have had waves and waves of optimism year after year, but it’s always felt like if Scotland are going to perform and beat England, it has be ‘one of those performances’.”
In the last four Six Nations clashes, England have only won the Calcutta Cup once. In a rain-soaked affair at Murrayfield in 2020, Eddie Jones’ men came away with a 13-6 win to take back the trophy after a two-year absence.
Scotland claimed the Cup in 2018 for the first time in 10 years with an infamous performance from Finn Russell and two tries from Huw Jones, while in 2019 they came back from a 31-0 deficit to eventually draw 38-all to retain the trophy at Twickenham.
The elusive win over England on home soil came last season, when Scotland stunned them with an 11-6 victory. Heading into 2022 is the first time Scotland enter the fixture with an air of favouritism, something Brown says has been built by the squad.
“Now I look at this team, this squad, over the last couple of years, they have started to create their own history behind the squad, create a standard in terms of their defensive unit, how hard they are to break down,” Brown said.
“Since Gregor’s come in, and actually before Gregor with Vern Cotter, there was an evolvement of an attacking edge with Scotland.
“You just got to look at the Scotland backline and the options available to that backline, Glasgow, Edinburgh, all the exile players, you are looking at it and going there is some serious, serious talent in that backline.
“Talking about the England centres and who are they going to pick? It’s ‘who are they going to pick’ because who is available? Look at the Scotland centres, you think, ‘who are they going to pick?’ because everyone is available. Everyone is available and everyone is performing well.
“So I do think England are going to come up to Murrayfield and face a Scottish team that have started to build a reputation and got some serious talent in the squad, but the proof is always going to be in the pudding.”
Scottish pundit Tom English said Scotland ‘doesn’t have anything to fear’ from this England side that has been hampered by injury in the lead-up after losing captain Owen Farrell and then stand-in captain Courtney Lawes.
“I don’t think they have anything to fear from England. I think Scotland can absolutely win this game and if they don’t, they will be crestfallen,” he said.
“You look at last season, at this game [versus England] and also the game in France,” English said.
“I would’ve said before this game last year, if Scotland were to win it, then Finn would have to play one of Finn’s games. He’s going to have to light the place up. He was good but he made a lot of mistakes. They didn’t win this game because of Finn Russell.
“Equally in Paris, he was very good in Paris, but the last 10 minutes he was off the field on a red card. Scotland won the game from a losing position with him off the field.
“So, it’s not about Finn Russell or Stuart Hogg. It’s about the collective, and the collective is getting stronger all the time. It’s about George Turner’s carries, the back row in Paris carried and carried and carried. They were outstanding.
“It’s just strong now in all positions.”
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