Unwelcome sign for Scotland: The RFU weathervane on top of a stand at Twickenham
London (AFP) - Scotland will go in search of just their fifth win in more than a hundred years of playing England at Twickenham when they meet their oldest rivals in the southwest London suburb in the Six Nations on Saturday.
England and Scotland first played at Edinburgh’s Raeburn Place in rugby union’s inaugural international match back in 1871.
After various venues had been used ‘south of the border’, including The Oval cricket ground, England’s Rugby Football Union realised the benefit of owning their own stadium and purchased land on what had been a cabbage patch at Twickenham in 1907, with Scotland’s first game there in 1911.
That match saw Scotland’s George Cunningham seemingly destined to score a try after brushing off the challenge of England full-back Sam Williams.
But Williams’ lunge had torn Cunningham’s shorts off and rather han continue half-naked, he sat down.
The chance disappeared and Scotland – who prior to that match had won on their last six visits to England – lost 13-8, thereby setting a pattern for more than a hundred years of largely unsuccessful visits to London.
Their latest journey south comes with the Scots having won just once, a defeat of strugglers Italy, this Six Nations.
It hardly bodes well, given Scotland have managed just four wins in 48 Twickenham fixtures against the ‘auld enemy, with England victorious in 39 and five drawn.
Scotland’s most recent visit saw them suffer a 60-21 thrashing in 2017, with England scoring seven tries.
You have to go back to March 5 1983 – when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister – for Scotland’s last win at Twickenham, a 22-12 success.
Now Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw will hope to follow the lead of his uncle Roy Laidlaw, also a No 9 and one of the Scots’ try-scorers 36 years ago.
John Rutherford, Scotland’s fly-half that day, told the Guardian: “I liked Twickenham. I thought it was a brilliant atmosphere and the loudest of the stadiums. None of us ever felt inferior going down there, or that we couldn’t win.”
Sean Lamont, who won 105 caps on the wing for Scotland from 2004-16, said of the now 82,000 capacity Twickenham: “It is a hell of a theatre to go into.
“There must be some sort of sway for England. You get a big home crowd singing God Save the Queen or whatever, it makes a difference and puts pressure on referees’ decisions –- they tend to sway in favour with the home crowd.”
- Logan’s regrets -
Scotland drew 12-12 at Twickenham in 1989 and again came close to ending the hoodoo in 1999, when they won the last edition of the old Five Nations.
Both England and Scotland scored three tries, with Kenny Logan on target with all three of the Scots’ conversions.
But, significantly, the wing missed three penalty attempts in a 24-21 defeat.
“Every time we play England at Twickenham now, I always think about those kicks,” Logan told the Guardian.
“I had a knee injury which was heavily strapped. When I kicked there was a real thud –- I couldn’t get it right.”
Family fortunes: Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw, in action against France last month, will hope to follow in the footsteps of his uncle, Roy Laidlaw, by being on the winning side against England at Twickenham
For many members of the current Scotland squad – Greig Laidlaw included – Twickenham was also the venue for their heart-breaking 2015 World Cup quarter-final defeat by Australia.
The Scots had a famous victory in their grasp but, after what World Rugby later admitted was an incorrect decision by South African referee Craig Joubert, were denied by Bernard Foley’s last-minute penalty as they suffered an agonising 35-34 loss.