Baptism of fire at dreaded Twickers

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Scott Johnson has an early opportunity to endear himself to the Scottish rugby public if he can somehow help to engineer an end to the national team’s most painful losing streak.

It will be 30 years since Scotland last recorded a victory at Twickenham when the interim coach leads his charges to the home of the auld enemy and attempt to win back the Calcutta Cup on 2 February in the Six Nations opener, writes Duncan Smith.

The Scots have only won twice at English rugby’s HQ since the war – with draws in 1979 and 1989 the only other sources of rare comfort at a venue that has become a well-established torture chamber for the men in dark blue. After that daunting trip south comes three home matches in a row – Italy, Ireland and Wales – before a finale against France in Paris. So low are Scottish expectations, if Johnson’s team can beat Italy at home and eke out another win, it would be viewed as a relatively successful campaign.

Johnson has also been given the summer tour to South Africa which will take the form of a quadrangular tournament. Scotland face Samoa on 8 June and the Springboks on 15 June. The final opponents on 22 June depend on placings, with Italy also involved.