I was there in 2006 when Jason White lifted the Calcutta Cup. It inspired me to play for Scotland.

The rivalry is so deep-rooted. It means so much to the public which, in turn, makes it mean even more to you as a player. There’s always a big song and dance about it in the press and it’s the hottest ticket in town. It becomes a huge thing, when it was already a big thing to begin with.

Will the manner of the defeat against France motivate Scotland against England? I don’t think so. Winning your home games are so important in the Championship because it’s such an advantage, so for them to slip up at Murrayfield would have been tough to take. Finn Russell spoke really well afterwards about taking the referee out of the equation: no referee is ever going to have the perfect game, and whether that decision to disallow Scotland’s try at the end was right or not, the outcome shouldn’t have come down to one decision.

The guys are good at not using excuses. They’ll take accountability for that defeat and know they weren’t at their best. There were moments when they could have been more clinical, like when France were down a man just before half time and they failed to score off a centre field scrum five metres out. Top teams in the world score that, and ultimately that’s what Scotland are aiming to be, so it was a missed opportunity more than anything.

As any Scottish player will tell you: you don’t need extra motivation to face England. When I made my first start against them in 2018, there was that incident in the tunnel. You’d have to ask Ryan Wilson what was said to set it off, but I remember it being a bit of nothing, then all of a sudden it’s kicked off. I was maybe five or six people back from what was going on, but once it was broken up and I was back in the changing room, I remember putting my match jersey on and thinking ‘we better deliver now’. Thankfully we did.

But it’s the Calcutta Cup match the following year that will stand out for most people (and thankfully for what happened on the pitch, rather than off it). I’d never felt so overpowered and inferior as we did in that first half. England scored twice in the first ten minutes and had a try bonus point within half an hour. We didn’t have any answers to what was going on and were way off the pace. We were aware our home fans were leaving at that point, and I was taking that really personally and emotionally.

As captain that day, it was hard because I was trying to catch the boys’ eyes as we gathered under our posts for what felt like the umpteenth time, but nobody was looking at me. They were in a daze because of what was happening. That was very challenging for me, trying to figure out how to bring us all together in that moment; ultimately to focus on what we could control. If that was field position, then it was the way we kicked. We could control our aggression by the way we defended. Up until then we’d been slipping off tackles, or just absorbing them. England scored some great tries and my thinking was, ‘Someone needs to do something here’.

We talk a lot in rugby about ‘breaking the cycle’ of a team’s momentum. When everything’s coming off for them, you need a showstopper - like a big collision or a turnover - to stop that. Not for one moment did I think I was going to be the person to provide that. We were 26-0 down and well inside our own half when I found myself in front of Owen Farrell as he was about to kick the ball. We’d had a thing all week about getting to Farrell’s foot because of his kicking game, and back then we were massive on line speed. We were numbers down in defence and if they’d moved the ball wide they were probably scoring, but here he was about to kick.

I charged him down and chased after the ball. I saw it bounce up nicely and my thinking then was that I’d run for as long as I could and see what happens. We couldn’t go on playing the way we were and I was determined as our captain to display that I wasn’t going to give up, and that’s what that moment was about for me: not giving up. Sure enough, I ended up making it all the way and scoring. I didn’t see Jonny May coming in to tackle me; I felt someone there and swerved a little bit. It also meant that we took something positive into the second half. I've always been curious as to what Eddie Jones said to them at half time. We just spoke about trying to win the second half.

We scored an astonishing six tries after England had got their fourth. We saw some magic in the second half that I don’t think we’ll ever see again in 40 minutes of rugby. We were gutted at the end because we were winning until the 80th minute, when they got the try and conversion to equalise and make it 38-38. We hadn’t lifted the Calcutta Cup at Twickenham in 30 years, and I wanted to lift it having won the match, rather than retaining it. If that game tells us anything, it’s how important momentum is in rugby. In that first half, it did seem like we were way off, when realistically we were probably just a few percent off; and in the second half, the dial seemed to switch and they were just a few percent off. A bizarre game.

It’s going to be a huge boost for Scotland to have Blair Kinghorn back this weekend. From that final Six Nations match of 2023 and through the World Cup, he’s gone from strength to strength and firmly established himself as one of the world’s leading fullbacks. He’s exceptionally gifted in terms of his physical attributes, but he couples that with working really hard on his game. He’s a 50-capper by the age of 27, which says something about how talented he is and his work ethic.

Over the last 12 months we’ve really seen him start to believe that he is one of the best players on pitch. And that’s not meant in an arrogant way, just that he wants you to give him the ball and let him express himself. That’s what you want: guys like your Finns, Duhans and Blairs on the ball, because they’re special players.

I think back to when I was at school, and this was always the match I wanted to go to watch. I was there in 2006 when Jason White lifted the Calcutta Cup and it was epic. It inspired me to want to play for Scotland. That meant that I was always very aware when I was playing, especially against England, that we could be inspiring the next crop of Scotland players sitting in the crowd.

I’d love for that to be the case again this weekend.