England ready to match Scotland’s passion – Richard Cockerill
Richard Cockerill insists England are ready to match Scottish passion in Saturday’s Calcutta Cup clash as they aim to launch the Steve Borthwick era with a triumph at Twickenham.
England have not won at home in the fixture since 2017 and have managed a solitary victory in the last five meetings, although they are still backed by bookmakers to make a successful start to the Guinness Six Nations.
Former Edinburgh boss Cockerill, the only surviving assistant from Eddie Jones’ management team, knows the fury that will be brought by Scotland, having faced them twice as a combative hooker in the late 1990s.
But England’s forwards coach insists they will be met head on, with the rivals separated only by the quality of their play.
“I can assure you that we will have enough passion to match the Scots’ passion. Then it will be down to who plays the best rugby,” the former Leicester hooker said.
“When I was a player, it was the rivalry and realising how competitive the Scots are against the English. I still live in Edinburgh so I see that every day.
“It’s a huge game. We know it means a lot to Scotland and it means a hell of a lot to us as an England team. The rivalry is going to be keen.
“They’re a good side and are going to be confident coming here because they’ve had a great record against us in the last few years. So we’ve got everything to do.”
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Ollie Hassell-Collins will make his debut on the left wing as part of a reshaped team that has seen players who were frozen out under Jones – the likes of Max Malins, Alex Dombrandt and Ben Earl – return to the fold.
Even a place on the bench eludes Manu Tuilagi after he was dropped for the first time in his England career while Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell continue the playmaking 10-12 axis that has fired only in brief spurts.
Jones’ priority had been delivering at the World Cup, the latest instalment of which arrives this autumn, but the new regime has adopted a narrower focus.
“We’re here to win first and foremost. It’s the most important thing and what we get judged on. We want to see signs of what we’ve been working on and how we build our game,” Borthwick said.
“I’ll take the win because that’s what we’re here for. I’m all about winning, playing for England and coaching England is all about winning. But I have a feeling it won’t be 3-0.
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“We want to be a positive team who play a positive brand of rugby that wins England the game.
“We have enough quality on the field to deal with what’s in front of us. We want to play with passion, pride and effort and show what it means to play for England.”
An area of urgent attention is the scrum after a dismal 2022 that yielded only five wins in 12 Tests was compounded by the indignity of also possessing the worst-performing scrum of any tier one nation.
“Certainly our set piece has to be a lot better. Our scrum hasn’t been good enough and that’s something we need to improve, both in terms of the relationships with the referee and how we actually go about our business,” Cockerill said.
“Our set-piece parts have to be a lot better if we’re going to compete at this level and win games at this level.”