Scotland's Huw Jones aims to taste Twickenham success again

Scotland centre Huw Jones in positive mood during training at Oriam. Picture: SNS/SRUScotland centre Huw Jones in positive mood during training at Oriam. Picture: SNS/SRU
Scotland centre Huw Jones in positive mood during training at Oriam. Picture: SNS/SRU
He may still be very much one of the new boys in the Scotland camp but Huw Jones can boast that he has won silverware at Twickenham.

The Stormers centre, who will be joining Glasgow next season, was part of the Millfield side that won the English Under-15 Schools Cup in 2009.

“It was against Judd School from Tonbridge. We got a good win,” explained Jones yesterday shortly after arriving back at Scotland’s Oriam training base following a flying return to South Africa. “I was playing scrum-half then. It was massive to win that and play there at Twickenham

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“Going into this game at the weekend where it is unchartered territory, you haven’t won down there before, that can have a negative effect.

“A lot of what we have done recently has changed that mindset. We believe we can win tight games against opposition we haven’t beaten before. Going into this game the guys will be quite positive about it. It’s an exciting opportunity.”

The fact that Jones’s ‘fallow week’ following the win over Wales involved an 18,000-mile round trip back to Cape Town was hardly ideal but the 23-year-old was looking fresh and keen to earn his seventh cap in Saturday’s massive Calcutta Cup showdown.

“I was already going back there. That was organised at the beginning of the tournament as they [Stormers] knew they had a game,” he explained. “They wanted me back just in case. I didn’t have to play [in the 36-25 Super Rugby win over Jaguares]. I trained midweek with them and then got a nice little rest. It was nice and warm down there.”

Jones admitted he felt an extra frisson as he returned to camp as the Scots gear up for a shot at the Triple Crown and the chance to end both their long run without a win at Twickenham since 1983 and England’s hopes of a record-equalling 18th successive Test victory. If they could pull of a momentous triumph the cherry on the pie would be a potential tilt at the overall title in the closing home game against Italy.

“It’s a big game, there’s quite a few things riding on it, so definitely at the start of the week there is a good bit of buzz around,” said the Edinburgh-born midfielder. “I’m massively looking forward to it. It’s a big game for everyone.

“The 34 years thing has not been spoken about much really. Obviously that was before quite a few of us were even around so I think this is a different era, different team and I don’t think we need to think much about that, it won’t affect us that sort of stat. We’re going into this fresh minded thinking about what we can do.”

Jones got his first introduction to the Scotland set-up in last summer’s tour to Japan but it was during the autumn Test series when he properly established himself with some eye-catching displays, and he admits that he has noticed a shift in mindset during his short time as part of the group.

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“There’s just an extra bit of positivity,” he said. “We have still got the same hunger we had at the beginning of the tournament. We set our goals, we didn’t shout about it, but we knew what we wanted to do. We’ve had two good wins but we are looking to kick on now. There is a lot of enthusiasm and the hunger is still there. The camp is more positive.”

England’s impressive run of 17 straight wins – 16 of them since Jones’s namesake Eddie took over as coach – has garnered Scotland’s respect but the centre said the prospect of preventing the auld enemy equalling the All Blacks’ benchmark added an extra bit of spice.

“It’s not so much daunting, it’s quite exciting,” he said. “It’s a massive opportunity. That’s one of the big incentives, to stop their run. They have done really well to get to this point but I wouldn’t say it’s daunting. It’s quite exciting to have that opportunity.

“That is the end goal, we want to win the game, and winning the game will end their run.

“We will be thinking about that. Obviously it won’t be our sole focus. We will be looking at the tactical side of it and what we can do, it’s not just going to be motivational and emotional.”

Jones feels that Scotland’s fine wins over Ireland and Wales, and narrow loss in France, will have England on alert that this is a different proposition in dark blue than they have perhaps come to expect in recent years.

“I think traditionally, not 
just England, maybe other teams too, have gone into Six Nations thinking that Scotland might be an easy game,” added Jones.

“Over the last couple of years, and this season especially, I think we have managed to change that mindset.

“I don’t think they will be thinking this is going to be an easy game.”