jonny may v scotland
We’re at the pivotal halfway point of the Guinness Men’s Six Nations and the bare minimum for England has to be three wins.

The Championship is unforgiving because you can never afford a loss, especially when you see how Ireland are performing. Scotland v England this weekend will go some way to showing how far Steve Borthwick’s side has progressed one year into his tenure. They’ve had some dogged, scrappy wins so far against Italy and Wales, but Scotland will be a big indicator of where we’re at. With two teams ranked higher than them to come afterwards, this is something of a must-win.

As an England player, I wouldn’t want to play Scotland at Murrayfield after what happened to them in France. The manner in which they lost that match was pretty cruel, and I felt they deserved to win. The talk this week has been about them being the favourites for this Calcutta Cup match, but I don’t think England lads will be thinking that at all. They’ll just know they need to be at their best because this is their toughest fixture yet.

There has been a significant Scottish influence at my club, Gloucester, down the years. We’ve currently got Adam Hastings and Chris Harris, but the list of past players is endless. Having played alongside and been coached by many Scots here, I wouldn’t say it’s given me any insight into why they love to play England so much. It’s not rocket science, is it? Playing England has traditionally been Scotland’s biggest game, and if they won, it was seen as a successful campaign for them.

That was the Scotland of yesteryear. They expect more of themselves now, and rightly so. They’re contenders with Finn Russell at 10 and Gregor Townsend at the helm, and won’t be happy with producing just one magnificent game against England. Knowing exactly the threat Scotland pose, England will believe in their game plan and back themselves to win if they execute it properly. I wouldn’t want to call this one, but I know England are going to be hard to beat.

If past encounters are anything to go by, it’s a game that will boil down to some big moments. Duhan van der Merwe has provided some of those big plays in recent years. The game last year at Twickenham was quite loose, and I can see it being a bit different on Saturday. Borthwick will definitely want to take Scotland’s time and space away and make it an arm wrestle. The more loose and open the game gets, the more it suits Scotland.

The Calcutta Cup match in 2019 was the most bizarre game. We were all over them, and when they scored a couple of quick tries we almost weren’t bothered because we were winning by so much. But then they scored a couple more and the momentum suddenly changed dramatically, Who would have thought we’d be playing to draw given how far ahead we were? All of a sudden we were under enormous pressure, while for them it was the complete opposite because they’d been written off.

We were in a spot of bother and needed a George Ford try under the posts - on his birthday, no less - to draw. We breathed a sigh of relief after that, It was one hell of a game to end our campaign on. It just sums up how hard it is to win a Championship when you’ve got fixtures as hard as this one to get through.

I was a bit taken aback reading the news this week about England at one stage possibly moving to Wembley. The atmosphere for the Wales game was amazing at Twickenham, and it would be very strange if Test matches weren’t played there. Twickenham is where you dream of playing rugby as an English player - it’s the home of English rugby, after all. It’s where you want to play your Test matches, your club or schools finals. It’s cool to take the game around the country, like when we went to St James’s Park in Newcastle in 2019, but it would be a shame for Twickenham to be out of action when it means so much to those who play the game.


Jonny May is the second-highest try-scorer for England in the Guinness Men’s Six Nations (14), and second on England’s all-time try-scoring list (36).