If Twickenham has been the graveyard of Scottish hopes over the last 34 years, at least one Scot will be happy to be in the concrete mausoleum tomorrow afternoon.
Tim Visser plays his rugby immediately across the A316 at Harlequins’ ground, he lives locally and he has nothing but positive memories of the old “cabbage patch”.
He said: “We’re staying in the Lensbury, which is about 20 minutes from my house so I get to see the little one tomorrow which will be great.
“I’ve a lot of good memories of there, played a lot with Quins in recent seasons, two wins against Gloucester and Bristol this year, it’s been a genuinely good place for me.”
Visser is too modest to admit it, but he is the only player in the Scotland squad to have beaten England at Twickenham in the 15-man game.
His brace of tries helped the Barbarians to victory over the home side in May 2011; little wonder he is positive.
The Scot is one of five Harlequins players who will be involved tomorrow. The other four, Joe Marler, Danny Care, Kyle Sinckler and Mike Brown, will be sporting white.
Visser turned out for the London club as recently as last weekend, so he knows the mood in the opposition camp.
“I think they are probably pretending to be more confident than they are,” he said.
“The English public think Scotland have a realistic chance but the players themselves aren’t as cocky as they normally are, which is a good sign.
“But, at the end of the day, they have the track record, they have the results against us so they probably have good reason to be [optimistic], but they are not as loud as they normally are.”
Visser was drafted into the starting XV against Wales only after Sean Maitland injured his ribs playing for Saracens.
But the Dutch-born winger’s eye-catching second-half performance cemented his place for Twickenham. So, what, if anything, had coach Vern Cotter said to him?
“He didn’t!” replied Visser. “He was quite ‘Stern Vern’ I guess. I kind of hoped I would [keep my place], I felt I’d done enough but at the end of the day you never know whether you have or not. I’ve been on the wrong end of decisions quite a few times with various teams so it’s good to get another shot and I’m looking forward to it.
“We’ve been getting better and better as the tournament has gone on, culminating in the second half against Wales, but we don’t want that to be our end station. We want to be moving forward, so we’re trying to get better day after day and you tend to get reality checks now and again in training when things don’t run quite as smoothly as you want. They’re the kind of things that make you better as a team. That’s been happening to us this last couple of weeks.”
There is a growing sense of expectation surrounding this Scotland squad but Visser insists that all the pressure will be on the home side who are hoping to equal the [Tier 1] record of 18 consecutive victories, which is currently held by the All Blacks.
England’s winning streak stretches all the way back to their final match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, a regulation victory over Uruguay, which kick-started the run. Eddie Jones took over from Stuart Lancaster and the voluble little Australian has won every match since.
The record is on the line and that, along with Scotland’s failure to register a victory in West London since 1983, means there is more riding on Saturday’s game than any in recent Calcutta Cup history.
“I would be lying if I said there wasn’t,” added Visser.
“We all know the importance of it with one eye on the championship. At this level it is all about keeping a calm head. We showed that against Ireland and Wales when we won in the later stages.
“It is going to be a tight game. If we want to be in it we still have to be in with a shout at half-time. England have won championships but we have shown we can win tight games. All we have to do now is do it at Twickenham.
“They have not been as smooth as they have been [in the past]. They have struggled up till half-time on various occasions.
“We have to start well and put them under pressure. They are still winning though, 17 in a row.
“I don’t think we are a team under pressure. We go there with a record of not much success down there but we have kept our feet on the ground. We have to give it our best. The pressure is on them. They have not lost a game in 17 games. If anything the pressure is on them.”