SCOTLAND V ENGLAND

It’s All In The Mind

Rugby Union - RBS 6 Nations Championship 2013 - England v Scotland - Twickenham

England’s Owen Farrell in challenged by Scotland’s Richie Gray (left) during the RBS 6 Nations match at Twickenham, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday February 2, 2013. See PA story RUGBYU England. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire.

I would love to know how many column inches have been written ahead of today’s Calcutta Cup encounter at Murrayfield.

It seems that the fact that England have a new Head Coach and Scotland were within a whisker of making the Rugby World Cup semi final have prompted every sports journalist and ex rugby international to comment – add the armchair commenators and blog writers, like myself, and you have an avalanche of information to plough your way through.

Some of it is interesting, some of it is, frankly, banal and most of it seems to have focused on what isn’t going to happen rather than what is – the fact that Itoje and Daly have not made the match day 23 seems to be the big one.

To me the really interesting thing is that, having picked a match day 23 consisting of 20 players who regularly featured under Stuart Lancaster, the thing that we will learn is whether both Jones and Lancaster got their selection completely wrong – chosing players who are not capable of performing on the international stage- or, if it was the tactical, environmental and psychological approach that Stuart Lancaster et al got wrong. Something significant changed between the end of the Six Nations and RWC2015.

Jones has said that he has picked a team to do ‘a job’ and win against Scotland in what will be an intimidating environment against a team that has a point to prove having felt they should have progressed in the World Cup. Lancaster did the same, with succes, with the same group of players!

I can’t wait until this afternoon to sit down and see if Mr Jones has managed, in the short period of time available, to create a new environment, a new mind set and galvanise a team that was shell-shocked when the final whistle went against Australia in their penultimate pool game in RWC2015.

By the time todays final whistle goes, we will have a clearer idea if it is the players who are not capable of performing at this level or if the England coaching team contrived to turn a team of potential world beaters into a a group bereft of snarl, grunt and tactical nouse.

Game on!

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