Six Nations: Scotland can shock England

WHETHER it is the anticipation of reuniting with some great friends and sharing memories of 1983 or excitement at Scotland’s line-up that is stirring his grey matter, John Rutherford believes that Scotland could produce a surprise at Twickenham tomorrow.

The 42-times capped stand-off was an influential member of Scotland’s 1983 team, the last to savour victory in London, and he will travel south with the bulk of that squad tomorrow morning as part of a reunion organised by the skipper Jim Aitken. They are heading for London Scottish’ clubrooms, where they will meet up with more team-mates and Rutherford admits it is a gathering that has got the juices flowing.

“Just getting ready to go down is bringing back all the excitement again, which is wonderful,” he said. “I’ve been down a few times since I stopped playing but I’m excited both because the boys are meeting up and also because I like the look of this Scotland team. The coaches have played their part by making some changes and I think they’ve picked a good team. We have a decent bench too and I think Manu Tuilagi [injured England centre] will be a huge miss for England.”

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Rutherford is enthused by interim coach Scott Johnson’s team selection but believes that the key to Scotland’s ability to win could lie less in the personnel and more in the gameplan, and the manner in which the team take to the challenge. “From what I hear, the coaches have greatly simplified things,” added Rutherford, “given the boys a simple gameplan and that will undoubtedly help them.

“Our game was like that. It was all about putting pressure on the opposition and playing to our strengths, and rugby’s not really changed a lot in that way.

“I also feel that we need a marauding back row. We have always been good at producing players in that area, guys that can get in behind the opposition and cause a bit of havoc. I think, with Johnnie Beattie back in there, with Kelly Brown and Alasdair Strokosch, we have that and we have backs that look capable of playing when they get the chance. I am going down there with a really good feeling.”