England know ‘the pressure is on’ as Calcutta Cup offers chance to revive Six Nations and exorcise Murrayfield demons

Sam Underhill admitted that “the pressure is on” England to regain the Calcutta Cup ahead of their Six Nations clash with Scotland on Saturday, with Eddie Jones’s side “incredibly hungry” to exorcise their Murrayfield demons.

Whichever side loses between the two fierce rivals will know their championship hopes are almost certainly over, having both lost their opening fixtures last weekend, though for England the 138th Test between these two sides carries the extra significance of the fact that they have not won the Calcutta Cup since 2017.

On England’s last trip to Murrayfield two years ago, they were on the end of a shock 25-13 defeat that saw a pre-match skirmish in the tunnel and a hostile reception greet the visitors, which taught Underhill a valuable lesson in his sixth cap on what it meant to play away from home. And following last weekend’s championship-opening defeat in France, the Bath flanker admits the side want to make up for their recent shortcomings both in this fixture and Six Nations as a whole.

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“In terms of last week especially, as a player when you have a disappointing result there’s nothing more that you want than another game, so we’ve got a chance as a group to improve and show each other what we’re about to perform for one another,” said Underhill.

“The fact that it just happens to be a Calcutta Cup is probably even better for us because there’s more pressure, and ultimately pressure is something you need to perform at your best. You need to put yourself under pressure and for other people to put you under pressure.


Ratings: France vs England





1/31 France 24-17 England

2/31 France: 15. Anthony Bouthier – 7

3/31 14. Teddy Thomas – 7

4/31 13. Virimi Vakatawa – 6

5/31 12. Gael Fickou – 6

6/31 11. Vincent Rattez – 8

7/31 10. Romain Ntamack – 8

8/31 9. Anthony Dupont – 9

9/31 1. Cyril Baile – 7

10/31 2. Julien Marchand – 7

11/31 3. Mohamed Haouas – 7

12/31 4. Bernard Le Roux – 7

13/31 5. Paul Willemse – 7

14/31 6. Francois Cros – 7

15/31 7. Charles Ollivon – 9

16/31 8. Gregory Alldritt – 8

17/31 England: 15. George Furbank – 5

18/31 14. Jonny May – 8

19/31 13. Manu Tuilagi – 5

20/31 12. Owen Farrell – 5

21/31 11. Elliot Daly – 5

22/31 10. George Ford – 5

23/31 9. Ben Youngs – 4

24/31 1. Joe Marler – 5

25/31 2. Jamie George – 5

26/31 3. Kyle Sinckler – 5

27/31 4. Maro Itoje – 4

28/31 5. Charlie Ewels – 4

29/31 6. Courtney Lawes – 5

30/31 7. Sam Underhill – 5

31/31 8. Tom Curry – 5

1/31 France 24-17 England

2/31 France: 15. Anthony Bouthier – 7

3/31 14. Teddy Thomas – 7

4/31 13. Virimi Vakatawa – 6

5/31 12. Gael Fickou – 6

6/31 11. Vincent Rattez – 8

7/31 10. Romain Ntamack – 8

8/31 9. Anthony Dupont – 9

9/31 1. Cyril Baile – 7

10/31 2. Julien Marchand – 7

11/31 3. Mohamed Haouas – 7

12/31 4. Bernard Le Roux – 7

13/31 5. Paul Willemse – 7

14/31 6. Francois Cros – 7

15/31 7. Charles Ollivon – 9

16/31 8. Gregory Alldritt – 8

17/31 England: 15. George Furbank – 5

18/31 14. Jonny May – 8

19/31 13. Manu Tuilagi – 5

20/31 12. Owen Farrell – 5

21/31 11. Elliot Daly – 5

22/31 10. George Ford – 5

23/31 9. Ben Youngs – 4

24/31 1. Joe Marler – 5

25/31 2. Jamie George – 5

26/31 3. Kyle Sinckler – 5

27/31 4. Maro Itoje – 4

28/31 5. Charlie Ewels – 4

29/31 6. Courtney Lawes – 5

30/31 7. Sam Underhill – 5

31/31 8. Tom Curry – 5

“I played here in the last game at Murrayfield. I was on the bench, it was one of my first caps and first experience here at Murrayfield. It was probably my first insight into the emotion of the occasion and I was probably a bit naive to it before, getting booed off the bus and seeing the reaction of the Scotland players when they won, seeing the crowd and how much it means to everyone up here. It’s definitely something to acknowledge and it’s definitely there – you can’t ignore it – especially when it’s as loud as Murrayfield is.

“But like I say that’s to be embraced as a player, it’s something that you want to play in and be in that position because you want to be under the most pressure you can be because that means you’re playing at the highest level you can play. That for us as a player is what we want.”

The eagerly-anticipated clash could well be impacted by the elements as Storm Ciara bares down on the United Kingdom, with wind speeds in excess of 50mph expected to hit Edinburgh at the time of the 4:45pm kick-off in what is already predicted to be the worst storm to hit the Britain in eight years.

Both teams accepted that the victors could well be the side that adapts to the conditions the fastest, although England defence coach John Mitchell stressed that the visitors are prepared for anything Storm Ciara – and the Scots – can throw at them.

“I think we’re ready for anything, that’s certainly in our preparation,” said Mitchell. “We’ve looked at all situations that could occur and weather is certainly one of those. It’s important for us to be adaptable in those situations.

“I’m not sure who it will favour. Certainly both teams will have to adapt to it. Should it come then it’s adapting to what it presents in each of the halves.”

Scotland captain Stuart Hogg was equally as accepting on how the weather would affect the match, with the full-back calling for his side to beat England to the punch in playing the elements as well as the opponents.

“It’s classic Scottish weather, we’re used to it now,” said Hogg. “We’ve got a couple of different tricks up our sleeve. Hopefully if the weather comes in we can adapt because it will be the team that does that the quickest that will have the best outcome. We’re fully aware it’s going to be coming in at some point. We’ll adapt and overcome and hopefully get through it.”

Hogg also admitted that his side are sick of being labelled brave losers, which is being used to help motivate Gregor Townsend’s side for a match that could reignite their Six Nations hopes. On top of that, world champion boxer Josh Taylor was at Murrayfield on Friday to give a motivational speech to the squad, with the unified lightweight champion set to be in attendance for Saturday afternoon’s encounter.

“We’ve got the gameplan and the players in this squad to be winning Test matches,” added Hogg. “The tag that we’ve been given really hurts the players but we need to be in a position to win Test matches before that goes. We get another opportunity tomorrow to make sure that’s gone.

“There’s a Calcutta Cup to play for and that’s all we’re concentrating on. It’s a huge occasion for us. Some boys are playing in this game for the first time but we’ve shown over the past couple of years that we’re more than capable of winning. We’re ready.”

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