Six Nations

England 'massive favourites', says Scot skipper

2018-02-23 21:58
John Barclay (AP)

Edinburgh - Scotland captain John Barclay believes England are "massive favourites" to win their Calcutta Cup clash at Murrayfield on Saturday.

But the back-row forward is taking heart from his side's win over France as the Scots look to upset the odds.

Recent history is certainly against Scotland as they prepare for the latest edition of rugby's oldest international fixture.

Not only have reigning Six Nations champions England beaten Italy (46-15) and Wales (12-6) in the opening two rounds of this season's tournament, it is also a decade since they last lost a Calcutta Cup clash with Scotland.

England's Australian coach Eddie Jones launched his reign as Red Rose boss with a 15-9 win away to Scotland two years ago, the start of a hugely impressive record of 24 wins in 25 Tests, with a defeat by Ireland last season that denied his side a Grand Slam the lone blemish.

"They've obviously won their first two games, two quite different games, won in different fashions," Barclay told reporters at Murrayfield on Friday.

"They are one of the best teams in the world, their record is fantastic, they come here as massive favourites, in my opinion," the flanker added. "They are a quality side with quality players throughout, it's a big challenge for us to stop them."

Barclay plays his club rugby for Scarlets, the Llanelli-based side who currently supply the bulk of the Wales team.

And the 31-year-old Barclay said Scotland, looking to end a run of nine winless matches against England - including last year's humiliating 61-21 defeat - in a fixture first played in 1871, could take heart from Wales's example.

"I went into the club on the week off and just had a little chat with some of them but the footage is there for you to see their strategies. They (Wales) gave away two penalties in the whole game - I don't know if that's ever been done before, that disciplined," explained Barclay.

"They had a very clear strategy, a few calls here or there and the game could have gone the other way," the 68-times capped back-row forward added. "I thought they played very well."

Scotland came into this season's Six Nations with high hopes following an impressive November series under coach Gregor Townsend.

But they were brought back down to earth in no uncertain terms first-up with an embarrassing 34-7 loss away to Wales.

However, the Scots showed plenty of character to twice overcome 10-point deficits before seeing off France 32-26 at Murrayfield to revive their title hopes.

"The first game was disappointing but it was fantastic to beat France in the way we did," said Barclay.

"I said after the first weekend that one game does not make you a terrible team, just as one win doesn't make you the best team in the world. It was important for us to win against France just to get some points on the board and we did that.

"To win here again this weekend and get more points on the board would put us in a great position.

"But we're under no illusions about how good a team England are and the challenge that lies ahead," he added.

Read more on:    england  |  scotland  |  six nations  |  rugby
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