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Joe Marler: England are sick of watching Scotland celebrations

England are desperate to claim the Calcutta Cup after recent Scotland dominance
England are desperate to claim the Calcutta Cup after recent Scotland dominance

England’s players have grown sick of watching scenes of wild Scottish celebrations in the Calcutta Cup as they prepare for their most “spiteful” Six Nations fixture.

After England held claim to the Calcutta Cup from 2009 through to 2018, they have only won one of the past six fixtures leading to some wild celebrations by Scotland’s players. Six years ago, half-backs Greig Laidlaw and Finn Russell were filmed drunkenly singing Flower of Scotland in a bar while England’s players have recently watched footage of Scotland’s dressing room celebrations following the 29-23 victory at Twickenham last year in the recent Netflix documentary.

While former England centre Ben Te’o previously claimed that the history of the oldest rugby international fixture was “completely irrelevant” in the modern game, prop Joe Marler says that England will more than match Scotland’s passion at Murrayfield on Saturday.

“It stirs passion in me, mate,” Marler said. “I remember growing up, watching the Five Nations and the Six Nations and how it was celebrated winning that cup and how much that one game meant. I know people always or often talk about how much that one game means to Scotland, but I watched that and you could see from the England teams who actually won, how much it meant to them to win that cup.

“Seeing some of the last few years without that cup, with Finn and Greig Laidlaw, that video of them with their shirts off and singing with the cup. Which is great, I love it but I wish I could be doing that rather than watching it. Or that famous Finn Russell photo where he’s got his Spiderman hands up and he’s loving it. That stirs passion in me to go, ‘I want that cup’  and I know a number of the other boys in that team want that cup back as well.”

Scotland’s period of recent dominance began in 2018 which was preempted by a tunnel bust-up between Ryan Wilson and Owen Farrell while the day after the defeat England head coach Eddie Jones was physically accosted by Scotland fans.

Scotland debutants David Cherry and Cameron Redpath lift the Calcutta Cup, marking the first time Scotland has won the trophy at Twickenham since 1983 during the Guinness Six Nations match between England and Scotland at Twickenham Stadium on February 6, 2021 in London, England
The sight of Scottish celebration after a Calcutta Cup has been commonplace of late - Getty Images/Charlotte Wilson

“More than any other nation there seems to be a little more spite even though, I am pretty sure the last battle between England and Scotland…was ages ago,” Marler said. “The Ryan Wilson tunnel bust-up sums it up nicely in terms of peak spikiness and that is just what you have come to expect in these fixtures. It would just be nice to be on the winning end of it for once because it has been so long since we have. Obviously we had 2020 but the continued dominance from Scotland over us….it has been a long time now.”

In 2019, then England head coach Eddie Jones claimed the Calcutta Cup was Scotland’s game of the year. “We saw how they carried on last year after they beat us,” Jones said. “So, we might have short memories sometimes, but sometimes you have longer memories.”

The current group too have made note of Scotland’s celebrations in the Twickenham changing room last year as captain Jamie George, playing in the first match since the death of his mother, issued an emotional rallying cry for the group to draw on every last bit of motivation they can find.

“We’ve shown a little bit of that (the Scottish celebrations) this week,” George said. “We’ve spoken about records, at Twickenham, in the Calcutta Cup, haven’t been good enough in the last couple of years. There’s been a lot of talk in the Scottish media about the fact we have no chance and we might as well not turn up.

“That’s absolutely fine in my eyes because we’ll go about our business quietly and we’ve been really happy with where we’ve been at over the last couple of weeks. We’ve made huge strides in the fallow week and we’ve built really nicely. Everyone can use different motivation, whether it’s what’s going on with me at home, people reading stuff in the media, this game is going to have an edge, this game is going to have a bite to it and we’re very prepared for that.”

Scotland, meanwhile, are bidding for a fourth consecutive win against England for the first time in the 128-year history of the Calcutta Cup. Yet Scotland co-captain Russell says that victory over the Auld Enemy no longer represents their be-all and end-all like it used to be. “I think there was probably more emotion talked up in this game before, about Scotland-England, the rivalry and what was going on there,” Russell said. “There was probably more emotion through the week and that was something that would have been spoken about, whereas this week we’ve not done much of that.

“There’s almost been the opposite - trying to take that away this week. In the past if we were able to beat England it was a huge result and we used to celebrate it - a lot. Don’t get me wrong, we all still celebrate. But it’s a different way. The team has come on a lot and I think the mentality as a group has come on a lot in the last five, 10 years. There’s a lot of things that are similar, but at the same time there’s probably a more professional take on this game.”

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