The start of a new Guinness Six Nations brings enough anticipation on its own but a Calcutta Cup clash in Round 1 takes the excitement up another notch, according to Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend.
Twelve months ago, Scotland regained the Calcutta Cup with an historic 11-6 victory away to England – their first win over the auld enemy at Twickenham since 1983.
Eddie Jones’s men will be gunning for revenge at BT Murrayfield on February 5 and speaking at the official launch of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations on Wednesday, the England coach said he was excited to start “the greatest Championship in the world by playing the most historic game in the world.”
Townsend concurred with his opposite number and admits he always targets the Calcutta Cup contest when fixtures are released.
“I agree with Eddie’s comments – the Six Nations is a brilliant Championship,” Townsend told the world’s media at the official launch. “It’s a privilege to be involved in it and having crowds back makes it even more special this year.
READ: 2022 Guinness Six Nations launched
“We know this is the biggest game we face, such an historic game. We play for an historic trophy and it’s 151 years old now this fixture.
“Having it first up adds a buzz around the Six Nations. It will focus our minds next week when we start to analyse more of what England could bring but now it’s about us – how we get our game together, that shared model of how we play and how we act as teammates. It’s been great to see everyone back together.”
Scotland captain Stuart Hogg says the players are also full of anticipation, with a game against their fierce rivals always capturing the imagination.
“We know it’s going to be tough and physical but these are the games you want to be involved in,” he said. “I know I speak on behalf of everyone involved in Scotland camp when I say we’re excited for next weekend.
“It’s the best opportunity to kick off the Six Nations by playing England at home. We love that game. As a proud Scotsman, playing England in Edinburgh is the game we always look forward to.”
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England suffered a blow with the confirmation on Wednesday that captain Owen Farrell will miss the entirety of the 2022 Championship due to an ankle injury picked up in training for club side Saracens.
Farrell looked set to form a potent 10-12 axis with talented 22-year-old fly-half Marcus Smith but Smith will likely now take on more game management responsibility from No.10.
And while he acknowledges they will miss Farrell, Hogg – who faced Harlequins star Smith for club side Exeter Chiefs earlier this month, with Quins winning 14-12 – believes England will still be an incredibly dangerous proposition with the young playmaker.
“They’re both fantastic rugby players,” said Hogg. “Owen has got that huge amount of experience and is a born winner. He’ll be a huge loss – he’s been an unbelievable leader for England over the last few seasons
“Like anybody out injured though, it gives an opportunity for somebody else to come in. England have got an embarrassment of riches.
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“Marcus is young, coming through, an incredible talent and he doesn’t take himself too seriously off the field but he works incredibly hard on the training field.
“Look, I think he’s an exciting talent, a really exciting talent. We [Exeter Chiefs] played against him a few weeks ago and at times he was winding me up with his eyes and hand signals of what he was going to be doing.
“He was putting me left, right and Chelsea, so I didn’t know what he was going to be doing!
“He’s a quality player and no doubt he’ll have a big impact on how England do in this campaign.”