Scotland would love nothing more than “to rub Eddie Jones’s face in the dirt” by recording their first victory over England in a decade, according to former skipper Gavin Hastings.
Not since 2008, when four Chris Paterson penalties propelled the hosts to a 15-9 triumph over Brian Ashton’s England at Murrayfield, have Scotland revelled in the spoils of Calcutta Cup success.
Hastings is not emphatic about their chances of becoming only the second team to defeat England under the stewardship of Jones, but is happy to divulge the thoughts of a Scotland supporter should the elusive moment arrive.
Asked what beating England would do for Scotland and head coach Gregor Townsend’s tenure, Hastings told City A.M.: “Bigger than that would be taking enjoyment from Eddie Jones reacting to whatever questions he would be asked.
“I admire Eddie Jones for what he has achieved but as a supporter of one of his opponents you just want to rub his face in the dirt.
“He’s just one of those guys that loves to wind the opposition up and therefore if you were lucky enough to be part of a victory against him that would be a sight worth seeing.”
Scotland enter the clash on a five-match Six Nations winning streak at Murrayfield spanning three championships, having not tasted defeat since Jones’s first match in charge of England in 2016.
Their overall record reads two losses in 11 home matches since that 15-9 reverse against the Auld Enemy, a run which included November’s landmark 53-24 thrashing of Australia.
That result fuelled pre-tournament hype that Saturday’s battle would represent a major hurdle in England’s quest for a third successive Six Nations title and Scotland’s best chance to finally topple their rivals. Hastings, however, has his reservations.
“It’s going to be an enormous challenge for Scotland to overcome, but we’re going to beat England eventually,” said Hastings.
“Could it happen? Yes. Is there a likelihood of it happening on Saturday? No, probably not because we’re not favourites. But even underdogs have a chance. Eddie Jones might even grudgingly admit we have a chance.
“Scotland have got to be gangbusters and have a go as there is no way they are going to win the game by scoring three or four penalties unless there is a bloody hurricane.
“The only way I can see it happening is by getting off to a fast start, lifting the tempo and pace of play and somehow catching England off guard.
“It’s never easy against England and I’m hoping Scotland can have a real go – sometimes you just have to have a go – and I’ll be really proud if they push them close.”
Part of his concern stems from last year’s Six Nations when Scotland descended upon Twickenham imbued by positivity, only to be humiliated in a seven-try demolition as England prevailed 61-21.
“There was a lot of optimism that this could be our best chance for a long time and we got absolutely blown away,” added the 56-year-old.
“It was just an awful defeat and one of the most difficult games to watch. My hope would be that they have learnt a lot from that and can benefit from the experience.
“You’ve got to get the balance between respect and the desire to play your best rugby with doing anything to get that victory.
“When it becomes a bit blurred and emotion takes over, then you don’t have a chance. That’s what happened last year.”
Debate, meanwhile, has raged this week over whether England, despite winning 24 of 25 Tests under Jones, have hit something of a ceiling given a shortage of world-class talent.
Hastings, who scored 667 points for his country during a nine-year international career, believes England remain on an upward curve, which again reflects the scale of the task facing Scotland.
“Whether England have reached their pinnacle is an interesting point and no one knows,” added Hastings.
“If they keep winning then Eddie Jones has nothing to defend or justify. I personally feel that when England get all of their better players back [from injury] they will be a match for anyone.
“The England side that won the World Cup in 2003 was a team borne out of wonderful world-class players and an absolute confidence in their ability to wear you down.
“The team now is a bit more workmanlike, certainly more professional and better drilled and schooled. They don’t make mistakes and don’t seem to get unnerved by anything.”
Gavin Hastings is a Land Rover ambassador. Land Rover has a heritage in rugby at all levels; from grassroots to elite, supporting the game for two decades. @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal