Six Nations: Ritchie expects England to have ‘a bit of edge’ in opener against Scotland

Six Nations: Ritchie expects England to have 'a bit of edge' in opener against Scotland

Jamie Ritchie is in line to win his 37th cap at Twickenham
Dates: 4 February-18 March
Coverage: Selected matches on BBC TV and BBC iPlayer with live text commentary and BBC Radio Scotland commentary on every match.

Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie expects England to show extra bite in their Six Nations match at Twickenham after losing the last two Calcutta Cup games.

The old rivals meet on 4 February, the opening day of the championship, with the Scots having secured narrow wins home and away in recent years.

“It probably adds a bit of edge to the game for them knowing the last couple of times we’ve played we’ve come out on top,” the Edinburgh forward says.

“I’m sure they’ll be up for this one.”

For 26-year-old Ritchie, speaking the day after helping Edinburgh to a European Champions Cup win over Saracens, the challenge for Scotland is not only to win in London but to follow it up with match-winning performances as the Six Nations progresses.

“We’ve probably won those games, the first game of the tournament, and not performed as well after that,” Ritchie tells BBC Sport.

“If we get that performance right on the first week, it’s backing it up after that.

“Consistency has been a continual work-on for us. It’s about continuing to learn, taking confidence from our good games, seeing what has worked well and then taking that in to the next games.”

The games to follow for Gregor Townsend’s Scotland are the visit of Wales and a trip to France before Murrayfield matches against Ireland and Italy.

In last year’s tournament, Scotland followed a 20-17 win over England with defeats by Wales and France. They then won in Italy but lost 26-5 away to Ireland.

Head coach Townsend admits he does not know what the future holds for him when his contract runs out after the World Cup in France in the autumn.

He is looking forward to the Six Nations nonetheless, saying he feels “tremendously lucky and grateful to be still involved in the team I supported and played for”.

“The adventures we’ve had have been amazing,” Townsend says. “They’ve not all been brilliant, but we’ve had great games when we’ve connected with our supporters and here we go again – the Calcutta Cup in the first game.

“There are two ways you can look at this game. You can lean on the emotional side of it – the history of it and what it means to our supporters – or you can look at the technical side of it.

“I made a mistake four years ago where we had too much emotion and didn’t play well in the first half at all.

“We know we have to be accurate when we play England. You have to bring a level of energy and physicality when you play for Scotland, but the technical side is really important – and the mental side too – adapting to things when they’re not going your way.

“I believe this group is ready to go on to that detail. They’ll be motivated, as they always are, when they’re playing for Scotland.”


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