England have won only one of their past six meetings with Scotland in the Guinness Men’s Six Nations.

That’s England’s worst record against any team in the past decade. But what has led to this era of Scottish dominance against the Auld Enemy? It's obviously one that means an awful lot to the Scots. That much was palpable when Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend spoke to the press after last year's stunning victory at Twickenham: "I didn’t get close to winning as a player, it was always the same result down here. Two years ago [when Scotland secured a first win at Twickenham in 38 years] there was no crowd here so this was emotional."

The normal on-field rivalry between the teams even spilled off it in 2018 with a "fracas" in the tunnel before kick-off. But it's on the pitch where the fireworks happen between Scotland and England, with some of the Championship's greatest moments taking place when thistle meets rose.

Not much to separate them

A deep-dive by Opta reveals just how close these past six Calcutta Cup meetings have been.

Hats must be doffed to Scotland’s pack, who have an astonishing 100% scrum success rate to England’s 96%, while beating 23.2 defenders to England’s 18.7.

Areas where England have had the upper hand are in carries (124.2 to Scotland’s 107.5), dominant tackles (6.8 to 5.8), turnovers won (5.2 to 4.8) and lineout success (91% to 87%).

Perhaps most tellingly, Scotland have the edge in tries scored, with an average of 2.7 per game to England’s 1.8, and also boast a tackle success rate of 89% to England’s 84%. Fine margins, but when the scoreline is often so narrow in the Calcutta Cup, every little counts.

Standout players

Duhan van der Merwe has been one of the main thorns in the side of the Red Rose. He has scored the joint-most tries (three) in this fixture since 2018 - level with his teammate, centre Huw Jones, who also has the most line breaks (six) - one of which has gone down in Championship folklore.

Unsurprisingly, van der Merwe has beaten the most defenders (19), and looks set to extend his stay at the top of that leaderboard with only the retired pair of England wing Jack Nowell (16) and Scotland fullback Stuart Hogg (15) close.

Of the players active in this year’s Championship, van der Merwe has a little work to do to catch up with England wing Elliot Daly in the metres carried column. The Saracens man has 212m to his name in this fixture, while van der Merwe lies second on 199m.

Curiously, but also somewhat inspiringly, loosehead prop Ellis Genge ranks second in tries scored in the Calcutta Cup over the past six years, having barrelled his way over twice. Don’t count against him looking to break into that top spot on Saturday.

That’s not the only measurement by which Genge ranks highly though. The Bristolian has carried a whopping 44 times: joint-second with Scotland fly-half Finn Russell, with only Hogg ahead of both on 47. Genge is also joint-fifth for defenders beaten (10), and tenth for tackles made (37).

Maro Itoje has left his mark on the Calcutta Cup match in more ways than one: he leads the way in dominant tackles with nine. The only player Scotland can provide in answer to Itoje's ferocity with anywhere near that many dominant tackles is flanker Matt Fagerson, who trails him by a considerable six. In terms of overall tackles, Itoje is second only to Jonny Gray (who has eight more than Itoje’s 67).

The question now is whether England can back up their two from two record in this Championship with their first win against Scotland since 2020, when Genge scored the only try of the match against the Finn-less hosts. For their part, Scotland will be desperate to bounce back from that agonising loss to France in round two.

It all adds up to what we can rightly expect to be an epic Calcutta Cup clash in Edinburgh.

Past six Calcutta Cup results

2018: SCO 25-13 ENG 2019: ENG 38-38 SCO 2020: SCO 6-13 ENG 2021: ENG 6-11 SCO 2022: SCO 20-17 ENG 2023: ENG 23-29 SCO