Six Nations: England coach Eddie Jones’ ‘song and dance’ routine starting to become tiresome as he labels Scotland red-hot favourites

Gregor Townsend has dismissed Eddie Jones’ “song and dance” routine after the England coach declared Scotland “red-hot favourites” to win the Calcutta Cup.

Jones has tried to pile on the pressure ahead of Saturday’s Six Nations clash in Edinburgh, questioning whether the Scots can cope with the burden of expectation.

Townsend’s side have been lauded following away wins last season over England and France and an impressive victory against Australia in the autumn.

It is widely considered to be the strongest Scotland squad in years and Jones didn’t miss the opportunity to indulge in a bit of gamesmanship as both sides named their teams.

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“It’s the first time I’ve had the experience of going up there when Scotland have been red-hot favourites. They’re expected to win,” Jones said.

“Every time their players look at the crowd at Murrayfield they’ll feel that expectation. They’re red-hot favourites and they’ve got to cope with that.

“There’ll be 67,000 fans and they’ll be thinking about all the fans watching the game on the BBC. They have to carry that burden. Every game for us is the same – we’re expected to win, so it’s no different for us.”

Jones said similar about France while discussing their title chances during the official Six Nations launch last week. The routine is starting to look a little tired and Townsend wasn’t about to rise to the bait.

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England coach Eddie Jones has questioned Scotland's ability to cope with the burden of expectation. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA

“Every coach does this little song and dance going into a game, trying to convince the media they’re underdogs and saying to players, we’re backs against the wall, going to this hostile place and we’re underdogs,” said the Scotland chief.

“I don’t know who picks the favourites – the bookies obviously do, and I know we’re not the favourites with the bookies. It’s not really something we talk or worry about.”

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All the leading bookmakers have England as odds on to win on Saturday, despite Townsend’s record in the fixture. He has lost only one of four Calcutta Cup games since becoming head coach.

Gregor Townsend has picked a Scotland a side containing 12 of the team which started at Twickenham last year. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

He has named a XV with 12 of the starters from last year’s famous win at Twickenham. The match has come too soon for Cam Redpath who is only three games into his comeback from a serious knee injury and Sam Johnson will play at inside centre.

The other changes from the 2021 match are Darcy Graham starting on the right wing in place of Sean Maitland and Grant Gilchrist coming in for Scott Cummings at lock.

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The uncapped London Irish scrum-half Ben White is on the bench for Scotland along with Sione Tuipulotu, who made his debut in the autumn, and Magnus Bradbury, returning after almost two years away from Test rugby.

England field a relatively inexperienced side, with 23-year-old Tom Curry named as captain, their youngest since Will Carling in 1988.

When pressed on Jones’ “favourites” jibe, Townsend offered a measured response.

“We have our own expectations and that is delivering performances we are capable of,” he said. “We've not done it in every game we’ve played, but in last year’s Six Nations three games stood out as us at our best – England, Italy and France. The aim for us now is to do the same in five games.”

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