Old rivalries and a 'grudge match' in Six Nations

Six Nations 2018: Scotland v England

England will not be put off by Scottish “mind games” in their 136th meeting at Murrayfield on Saturday in the Six Nations, says head coach Eddie Jones.

Their rivalry – which stretches back to the first international rugby match in 1871 – has been heightened by claims of England playing offside by Scotland coach Gregor Townsend.

Jones has said Scotland are trying “every strategy you can think of”.

“We’re up for the game, regardless of what’s said,” he added.

Scotland prop Simon Berghan meanwhile has said that he “sort of knew that everyone hates England” before he moved to Edinburgh from his native New Zealand.

Saturday’s hosts have secured famous victories against England on home soil in 1990, 2000, 2006 and 2008, with former England scrum-half Matt Dawson telling BBC Radio 5 live that Murrayfield is worth a six-point start for the hosts.

And Townsend said his side have got to deliver their “best-ever performance”.

“It will be a great atmosphere, as it has been for any game over the last couple of seasons, especially since November. But the England game is that extra bit special,” he added.

“We just have to make sure the crowd are cheering at the end as well as the beginning.”

England centre Ben Te’o played for Queensland in the State of Origin during his rugby league days and the British and Irish Lions against New Zealand last summer. He said his side will not be unnerved by the atmosphere.

Jones compares Scotland to the All Blacks

“I suppose every year you come around to these certain games. Last year we were talking about going to the Millennium Stadium, this year Murrayfield, next year it will be somewhere else,” he said.

“You’re always going to have an away fixture with a hostile crowd, that’s part of the game. You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.”

Dawson, however, has a word of warning for the England centre.

“Ben Te’o will find out the history of the fixture,” he said.

“He’s going to find out with the bus journey, and someone walking the bus around the stadium. He’s going to find out when he walks into the dressing room and sees an enormous pillar in the middle of the tiniest dressing room there is and it’s hollow.

“You can’t see your team-mates across the room. He’s going to find out the hard way.”

Six Nations 2018: Scotland coach Townsend looking to upset England
Weekend’s Six Nations action
Friday, 23 February France v Italy (20:00 GMT) BBC One
Saturday, 24 February Ireland v Wales (14:15 GMT) BBC Radio 5 live sports extra
Scotland v England (16:45 GMT) BBC One, BBC Radio 5 live

England have beaten Italy and Wales in their first two games as they attempt to become the first team to win three outright titles in the tournament’s history.

Scotland’s campaign began with a deflating defeat away to Wales, but they recovered to beat France 32-26 at Murrayfield.

The hosts will have to overcome a dismal run of form against England to emerge victorious. Scotland’s last victory in the Calcutta Cup was back in 2008 and they have not scored a try at home to England since 2004.

Ireland v Wales ‘a grudge match’

Ireland, the only team other than England unbeaten in this season’s championship, take on Wales in Dublin in what former wing Shane Horgan has called a “grudge match”.

Brian O’Driscoll gives Flats and Shanks a unique tour of Dublin.

Back in 2009, Wales coach Warren Gatland said his players disliked their Ireland counterparts more than any other team in the Six Nations. And in 2013 when he was British and Irish Lions coach he dropped Ireland legend Brian O’Driscoll for the final Test against Australia.

And Horgan believes the rivalry between Gatland and his fellow New Zealander and Ireland counterpart, Joe Schmidt, means relations between the two camps will be strained.

“There’s a niggle there with Ireland and Wales and that’s heightened when you take into account the coaching set-up,” Horgan told BBC Radio 5 live.

Six Nations 2018: Shaun Edwards backs his coaching record against the best

“Both Gatland and Schmidt might be going back to New Zealand after the next World Cup with an eye on the All Blacks job.”

It was Gatland who received the better news from his medical department this week with fly-half Dan Biggar recovering from injury to take his place in the side and full-back Leigh Halfpenny returning from a toe injury.

Schmidt will be without British and Irish Lions forwards Iain Henderson and Tadhg Furlong, who both suffered hamstring injuries in their win over Italy.

And with the away side emerging victorious in 21 of the past 34 matches between the teams, Wales have history in their favour too.

France attempt to get going in Marseille

Italy captain Sergio Parisse warms up at Stade Velodrome in Marseille

France’s miserable start to this season’s Six Nations has included two defeats and eight players being dropped for “inappropriate behaviour” during a night out in Edinburgh.

A home match against Italy, who have lost their past 14 Six Nations matches, provides new coach Jacques Brunel with a chance to get his campaign off to a belated start.

The match is the first Six Nations contest to be staged outside a capital city since 1954 with Marseille’s Stade Velodrome playing host.

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