Scotland beat England at Twickenham for the first time in 38 years
In case you missed it, something very special happened during Round 1 of this year’s Guinness Six Nations.
For Scotland fans, it was a rousing win at a familiar Scottish graveyard; Twickenham Stadium. None of the players today were alive when Scotland last beat England away from home. What’s more, the teams contesting the Calcutta Cup were celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first contest between the two, and what better way to mark the occasion than to see a historic victory for the visitors. Pre-Six Nations optimism over the years has been the root cause for Scotland’s downfall during the tournament. However, this year was going to be different, as the Covid-19 pandemic has forced fans to stay at home. A ghostly Twickenham wouldn’t pose so much of a threat to Scotland as they ran out 11-6 winners.
From the kick-off, both sides were eager to put their opponents to the sword. After six minutes played, Scotland bagged the first three points. Their impressive form continued throughout the game, as England’s poor penalty count resulted in Billy Vunipola being sin-binned for a high tackle. Things kept on getting better for Scotland, and new boy Cameron Redpath delivered an outstanding international debut on the pitch. England, however, played one of their worst games of rugby to date. It was to be a monumental occasion for the defending champions, as Owen Farrell, the captain, was expected to kick-start their campaign with a win. However, the home team lacked any resilience or discipline. This was summed up when at the breakdown they were frequently penalised in the first half, and they ultimately could not settle. Scotland took advantage of this and got their reward when Duhan Van der Merwe powered over the line for the only try of the game.
Thereafter, the match just seemed to drift away from England. Despite Finn Russell getting a yellow card very late in the first half, Scotland continued to turn the screw. The visitors dominated in possession, at the lineout and in the scrum. With notable performances from Matt Fagerson and Jonny Gray, the Scots picked up numerous chances to add more points to the scoreboard. However, both captain Stuart Hogg and Russell missed the posts when given the opportunity. With the clock ticking, Scotland were leading by only five points. Then, a beautiful spiral kick from Hogg into England’s 22 allowed Scotland to hold their ground against their biggest rivals.
For the final five minutes, the nation held its breath. The Calcutta Cup in sight. A 38-year wait coming to an end. This was it. And who better to end the game than Hamish Watson, who has surely now secured a place on this year’s Lions Tour. Watson turned the ball over and kicked it out as the clock went red. In a silent and empty Twickenham, the Scots celebrated a historic and rightly deserved victory. The sense of accomplishment is hard to beat. The Calcutta Cup is returning to Edinburgh.
“I still go back to three years ago when we beat England at Murrayfield, just because of the crowd, the atmosphere and the way the players played – but today we were outstanding, too, in really tricky conditions,” said head coach, Gregor Townsend.
Next up for Scotland is Wales at Murrayfield on Saturday 13 February. With the home advantage and a win under their belt, Scotland will be quietly confident going into this game. The Scots have not managed to finish above third in the table during the 21 years since Italy joined the tournament. Can we see a Grand Slam on the cards, or is this another false dawn? We can only hope it’s the former.
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