Six Nations: Why Gregor Townsend is pinching himself as Scotland bid for remarkable 128-year first

Recent Calcutta Cup dominance over England is a new experience for Scotland

Gregor Townsend has changed the narrative around Scotland’s record in the Calcutta Cup and the national coach has admitted he has to “pinch himself” such has been the upsurge in his team’s fortunes against their oldest rivals.

As a player Townsend enjoyed little success against England, winning just one of 10 matches, but his record as head coach is outstanding. He has tasted defeat once in six encounters and goes into this weekend’s renewal at Murrayfield seeking a fourth consecutive victory in the fixture.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

That last happened between 1970 and 1972 and included the centenary international of 1971. You have to go back to the Victorian era for the last time the Scots beat England four times in a row in the championship and that run from 1893 to 1896 was played out at Headingley, Raeburn Place, Richmond and Hampden Park. Truly, a different era.

Scotland will start Saturday’s game as odds-on favourites and it was put to Townsend on Thursday that there is a whole generation of former Scotland players who can only dream of what that must feel like.

“Yeah, I’m one of them,” said the coach, who confirmed that Darcy Graham is likely to miss the remainder of the tournament with a thigh problem. “Sometimes you do pinch yourself that this is what’s happened the last few years, because one win out of 10 I think I was. I remember going as a supporter in the early 2000s and it was pretty one-sided, so yeah, it’s a testament to what the players have done.

“But each time you play them it’s going to be a massive challenge. Going to Twickenham last year was a huge challenge: we went behind in the game and it was obviously a great Test match. You have to deliver close to your best rugby to win this fixture. We’ve done that in most of the games, in the last two games at Twickenham and the 2018 game here. They were some of our best ever performances. So it’s going to take something like that this week.”

Scotland lost eight in a row to England prior to Townsend taking over in summer 2017. Since then they have won in 2018, 2021, 2022 and 2023 and drawn in 2019 when they retained the Calcutta Cup. The solitary loss came at home in 2020.



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.