Six Nations 2018: Gavin Hastings makes bold England claim ahead of Scotland clash | Rugby Union | Sport


That doesn’t make them bad players – they’re not. But it does underline just how well Eddie Jones has got them playing together as a team.

Murrayfield is an inhospitable place for an English rugby player but England’s record over the past couple of years is formidable. The fact is that everyone is going to have to play the game of their lives for Scotland to have a chance of winning.

England always provide a formidable challenge for Scotland. Everything about them is bigger. From the numbers they can call upon to the physical size of the players themselves. They bring with them an awesome power.

I think back to the two victories I had against England in my career and the manner of them was identical. We played just about as well as we possibly could and we limited England’s opportunities.

Gregor Townsend will have been more technical with his detail – I’m sure he will have plans to cause England problems – but the gist remains the same. Every Scotland player has to play out of his skin and in that I include Finn Russell.

The criticism Finn has taken ahead of this game will be water off a duck’s back to him and if that brings out the best in him and makes him play to his potential, I will be delighted.

The thing is I just don’t see England making mistakes. They may not be the flashiest side in the world but they are pretty efficient. There aren’t many weaknesses. They trust each other and they wear sides down with the physical presence they have.

If England get the chance to rub our noses in the dirt they will take advantage of that, I’m sure, and be absolutely ruthless.

Scotland will be up against it for long periods but they have to stay composed and keep in the contest.

They also have to compete for the ball. Wales hardly committed anyone to the ruck at Twickenham a fortnight ago and just seemed content to fan out in defence, allowing England possession.

If Scotland can inject some energy, pace and speed of thought – particularly early on – England will have some different questions asked of them.

Tactics-wise, Scotland could do an awful lot worse than look at the way Italy attacked England in the wide channels in Rome. They had some joy there.

Scotland have to be brave, take risks and have a go because I don’t see them having a prayer otherwise.

Scotland don’t get any more points for beating England in the championship than they do for beating anyone else, but as a Scotsman you savour victories over them more than any other side that you beat. I’m sure that’s as true now as it was back in my day.

Gavin Hastings is a Land Rover ambassador. Land Rover has a heritage in rugby at all levels; from grassroots to elite, supporting the game for two decades. @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal.

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