Gregor Townsend said England coach Eddie Jones’ suggestion that Scotland are “red-hot favourites” for this weekend’s Calcutta Cup clash at Murrayfield was just a “song and dance” routine.
England travel north to Edinburgh for the first round of this season’s Six Nations championship beset by injuries and with a new captain in Tom Curry after both Owen Farrell and Courtney Lawes were ruled out of the latest edition of international rugby’s oldest fixture.
Scotland boss Townsend, by contrast, has selected a relatively settled side as the Dark Blues look to back up last season’s 11-6 win over England at Twickenham – their first away victory in the fixture since 1983.
“Every coach does this little song and dance going into a game trying to convince the media they’re underdogs and saying to players, ‘our backs are against the wall, going to this hostile place and we’re underdogs’,” Townsend told reporters after announcing his team.
“I don’t know who picks the favourites – the bookies obviously do, and I know we’re not the favourites with the bookies. It’s not really something we talk or worry about.”
Rain and driving winds, the background to many Scotland wins at Murrayfield, are forecast for Saturday.
But it has been a while since Scotland had to hope for bad weather to bolster their chances of success, with Townsend’s men also winning in Paris last year.
“I remember when I played, coached and spectated that maybe two teams were in the running for the Six Nations,” said former Test flyhalf Townsend.
“That’s changed. Most teams on their day can beat any other team – that’s been proven in the last couple of seasons. We would be one of those teams.”
The 48-year-old added: “We had three wins and two close defeats last year, so we’ve been very competitive.”
And for all England’s upheaval, Townsend said they would still have plenty of talent on show this weekend.
“They’ve got experience throughout their team with guys like Elliot Daly when they are missing (Manu) Tuilagi and Farrell in that (centre) position.
“He is going to add his experience and he has a very good kicking game … There is a lot of depth in English rugby. Even with players missing it shows they can still put out a quality team.”
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