Eddie Jones has ignited the Calcutta Cup fuse by warning Scotland they cannot allow their confidence to develop into complacency when they travel to Twickenham a week on Sunday in a match that will go a long way to deciding the outcome of the Six Nations championship.
Scotland head into round four knowing that they can shake up the title picture, win the Triple Crown and end England’s Grand Slam hopes all at the same time if they can record their first win at Twickenham since 1983. After wins over Ireland on the opening weekend and Saturday’s emphatic 29-13 victory over Wales, confidence is flowing through the Scottish camp, and they will face an England side still reeling from their chastening experience against Italy on Sunday.
But after turning his attentions from criticising Italy’s defensive tactics to the renewal of the Auld Enemy rivalry, Jones was quick to warn Scotland that they now have to carry the weight of a nation for the best part of two weeks.
“Well they expect to win don’t they?” Jones said after Sunday’s 36-15 win over Italy at the weekend. “They are talking about they are on a roll and when you say you are on a roll you are pretty confident. I don’t think you’ve ever heard me say we’re on a roll. I think we’ve won, how many, 17 games in a row and we’re not on a roll. We want to keep the Calcutta Cup here.”
After venting his anger with a game that he insisted “was not rugby” due to Italy’s refusal to ruck and subsequently obey the offside line, Jones admitted that he does not expect Scotland head coach Vern Cotter to deploy similar tactics, given that his side are playing well enough without the underhand defensive system.
“They’re coached by Vern Cotter and the game [Saturday] was a fantastic game of rugby,” he said. “It was contestable, players were at each other and that’s why we play rugby. We don’t play rugby not to have a contest. Rugby is a contest game. We have rucks to have contests, we have scrums to have contests, we have line-outs to have contest.
“That’s what the game’s about so when you take contest out of the game it ceases to become rugby so if Vern does it good luck to him.”
However, this isn’t the first move in the Calcutta Cup rivalry. That came back before the tournament had started, when former Scotland head coach Jim Telfer lit the blue touch paper by launching a stunning verbal attack on Jones, English rugby fans and Twickenham, something that is sure to be brought up again before next week’s encounter.
England vs Italy player ratings
Jones was not ready to respond to Telfer’s barbs, though you can be sure that there will be plenty more from the Scotland and British and Irish Lions No 8 in the build-up to the Six Nations encounter.
Instead, Jones praised Scotland for their brilliant second-half performance against Wales as they 23 unanswered points to all but end Wales’s championship hopes and put them well in contention to challenge for the title if they can defeat England.
A number of players caught the eye during the win at Murrayfield, with Jones acknowledging the danger they pose both at the breakdown and with ball in hand.
“I thought they were outstanding, the simplicity of their tries. They ran straight,” Jones added. “They are a really Kiwi-coached side, they contest hard at the breakdown and then are very good in transition. They’ve got [Stuart] Hogg coming out the back with gas out wide. They are a really well-coached side and everything is coming together for them.”