Former England head coach Eddie Jones insists that containing Finn Russell is the key to relieving Scotland of the Calcutta Cup at Twickenham on Saturday.
Jones featured in seven editions of the Guinness Six Nations before being sacked in December in response to a terrible 2022 and his overall record against Scotland is win three and draw from seven meetings.
The 63-year-old backs England to win by three points with Owen Farrell kicking the decisive penalty, but believes the Scots’ fate rests in the hands of their mercurial fly-half Russell.
Referencing the Lions playmaker’s stormy relationship with his head coach Gregor Townsend, Jones sees his presence as offering the potential for doom or glory for Saturday’s underdogs.
“Gregor Townsend was an older version of Finn Russell and that’s probably why he and Finn Russell don’t get along,” Jones, recently appointed Australia boss, told the ‘EDDIE’ podcast.
“He sees Finn Russell in the mirror, he doesn’t want to listen to the coach, he wants to do it his way, ‘what does he know, let me play because I want to play.’ They butt heads
“If Finn Russell plays, it gives Scotland an excellent chance to win. It also means that if England come out on top, Scotland will probably be hit because they will continue to take risks under pressure and give England more chances to score.”
Jones sees international rugby’s oldest rivalry as a fascinating clash of styles and suspects the break could be a profitable hunting ground for Scotland, which has not lost at Twickenham since 2017.
“Vern Cotter, who was Scotland’s previous manager, did a great job. He worked a little bit with Owen Eastwood, who wrote the book ‘Belonging,’” Jones said.
“If you haven’t read it, it’s a great read about the influence of a country’s history on the way you play your sport. Also about the importance of belonging to any type of community.
“I remember Vern used Owen and together they made this fantastic video of Scotland the Brave, fighting everyone, fighting the English.
“Because they are a smaller country, they have always thrived creating chaos and that is reflected in their rugby. They want to break the game. The English want to be organized.
“And then you have this contrast between the structure, organization and power of England and the chaotic, unstructured nature of Scottish rugby.
“Can England keep the structure? England will have opportunities to attack and then have to be good enough to take advantage of them. Or can Scotland break the game?
“You have this beautiful contrast in the philosophy of how you do things. They are two very good coaches: Steve is methodical, Gregor wants to do different things more, he wants to play the game differently.
“The referee is going to have an important weight, how he arbitrates the breakdown. Scotland will be pushing hard in the break and will have identified it as an England weakness, particularly with Tom Curry out. That may present an opportunity.”