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Eddie Jones wonders if Scotland will handle the pressure against England

Jones has questioned whether expectation levels are too high for the Scots.

Scottish players dejected after 2019 draw.
Scottish players dejected after 2019 draw.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

EDDIE JONES HAS upped the intensity ahead of tomorrow’s Calcutta Cup match, suggesting Scotland may choke under pressure.

England launch their Guinness Six Nations title defence with the 139th instalment of the oldest rivalry in world rugby, which also celebrates the 150th anniversary of the teams’ first meeting in Edinburgh.

With poignancy swirling around the cross-border showdown at Twickenham, Jones has issued a riposte to the misconception that national pride is only a Celtic trait.

“They’ve come out very clearly and said it’s the most important game of the year. That expectation for them is high. Maybe, with 15 minutes to go in the game, the expectation is going to get pretty heavy for them,” Jones said.

“We know Scotland are going to be up for it, but so will we. Scotland don’t have a monopoly on pride. Our players get an opportunity to play in this historic game and they are going to be ready for it.

“We like it that teams see this game as so important. It makes us raise our own game. Scotland bring that edge and we are going to be ready for it. It’s one of the traditional rivalries. When I was growing up, watching England play Scotland, you knew that game had special meaning.

“Now having the privilege of being part of these games you understand how important it is to both countries, and more particularly to Scotland.”

It was England who showed signs of feeling the pressure when they coughed up a 31-0 lead two years ago – before they reminded everyone, not least themselves, how good and clinical they are capable of being, by scoring a converted try to get a draw in that match with the the final play of the game.

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They have since reached a World Cup final, won the 2019 Six Nations as well as the Autumn Nations Cup.

“Since that Scotland game in 2019 we’ve noticed we are a lot calmer in those situations,” George Ford said. “To have the ability to be accurate and execute under the most intense pressure was a real positive.”

Eddie Jones added: “We select a squad of 23 and the reality of Scotland v England [is that] history shows the game is won in the last 20 minutes,” Jones said. “So in a lot of respects our finishing team is more important than our starting team.”

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