Focus on the 2019 Championship: Scotland

The 2018 NatWest 6 Nations is now in the books and Scotland have a third-place finish to celebrate.

The 2018 NatWest 6 Nations is now in the books and Scotland have a third-place finish to celebrate.

For the second year in a row, Gregor Townsend’s side won three of their five games – something they had never before achieved since Five Nations became Six at the turn of the century.

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Can they build on that next year, however? Here, we take a look through their fixtures and analyse whether the good times will keep on rolling in 2019.   Scotland v Italy, BT Murrayfield, February 2 2019   In a rematch of their dramatic clash that rounded off this year’s NatWest 6 Nations, Scotland welcome Italy to Edinburgh in their 2019 Championship opener.

Only a late Greig Laidlaw penalty denied the Azzurri a hard-fought victory in Rome earlier this month.

And the Italians will arrive in the Scottish capital desperate for revenge and their first NatWest 6 Nations win under Conor O’Shea.

Scotland v Ireland, BT Murrayfield, February 9 2019   Scotland wasted a number of golden opportunities against Ireland in Dublin this year as the Grand Slam champions ended up comfortable victors.

But the last time Joe Schmidt’s side came to BT Murrayfield, they were sent packing with a defeat, Scotland ending a four-game losing streak for the Scots against their Celtic rivals.

Scotland have not lost a NatWest 6 Nations game at home since England won there in the 2016 Championship opener and they will be keen to keep that fine home record going with back-to-back home games to kick off the 2019 Championship.    France v Scotland, Stade de France, February 23 2019   Next year will mark 20 years since Scotland’s last Championship crown – in the old Five Nations back in 1999.

That also marks the last time that Scotland emerged victorious in Paris in the Stade de France and Gregor Townsend will be hoping for a repeat this year.

Scotland proved too strong in the second half at BT Murrayfield this year but their away form needs work in this great Championship.   Scotland v Wales, BT Murrayfield, March 9 2019   Scotland ended up with a creditable three wins from this year’s Championship, even more impressive considering how wrong it went on the opening weekend.

Warren Gatland’s Wales ambushed them in Cardiff and condemned them to a sizeable defeat.

But Wales were downed at BT Murrayfield the year before and in what will be their final home game of the 2019 Championship, Townsend’s side will be keen to continue their impressive record in Edinburgh.   England v Scotland, Twickenham Stadium, March 16 2019   The final game of Super Saturday sees Scotland head to Twickenham for what could prove to be a pivotal clash in the destination of the Championship.

Scotland claimed their first victory in a decade over the Auld Enemy this year but their record in south west London does not make for pretty reading.

They shipped 60 points there in 2017 and have not won there since all the way back in 1983.

But if they want to turn their potential under Townsend into prizes, then these tough away tests needs to be capitalised upon.