Eddie Jones insisted Scotland “don’t have a monopoly on pride” and warned they could collapse under the weight of their own expectations when they face England in a landmark Six Nations clash on Saturday.
England will launch the defence of their title at Twickenham in a match that marks the 150th anniversary of the first meeting in rugby union’s oldest international rivalry.
Although Scotland won the inaugural 1871 fixture in Edinburgh, England have generally had the upper hand, with 76 victories to 43 and 19 draws in the 138 matches between the two nations.
But England coach Jones is angered by suggestions that Celtic nations such as Scotland, who believe they have been politically, culturally and economically oppressed by England, have far more national pride.
“For Scotland this is their most important game of the year, they talk about it all the time,” Jones said after naming his team on Thursday.
“But Scotland don’t have a monopoly on pride — our players get an opportunity to play in this historic game and they are going to be ready for it… they are playing for trophies,” the veteran Australian added, with the Calcutta Cup — first contested by England and Scotland in 1879 — up for grabs.
“That’s a huge expectation for them and maybe, with 15 minutes to go in the game, the expectation is going to get pretty heavy for them. We know Scotland’s going to be up for it, but so will we. It should be a great occasion.”
England have beefed up their midfield by selecting the powerful Ollie Lawrence as one of their two centres alongside Henry Slade.
Owen Farrell, the England captain, moves inside to fly-half, with George Ford dropping to the bench.
The England trio will look to minimise the threat of Scotland playmaker Finn Russell but Jones said there were positive reasons behind his choice.
“We feel this is the right balance,” he said. “It’s a good combination of Owen’s tactical acumen, Henry’s running skills and left-foot kicking and Ollie’s power.
“We feel that’s right against Scotland.
“Ollie is a good young player. He’s really developing well. We blooded him well in the Autumn Nations Cup and he gets another opportunity to start on Saturday.
“He runs good lines and is a good defensive player. He’ll add a bit of punch to the backline.”
Although it is nearly 40 years since Scotland won at Twickenham, they came desperately close on their most recent visit in 2019.
Scotland were all but beaten at 31-0 behind. But Russell led a remarkable rally and they took the lead before George’s last-gasp converted try ensured the match ended in a 38-38 draw.
Asked what England had taken away from that extraordinary encounter, Jones said: “We learned that we allowed ourselves to be seduced by the scoreboard.
“It seduced us into playing a way that suited Scotland and invited them back into the game. Since then we’ve been working very hard to make sure that we just play each minute of the game.”