Six Nations preview: Scotland dream of ending 24-year drought

Rugby Thursday January 25, 2024 By: Harry Howes

The Six Nations gets underway next weekend and in anticipation of this year’s biggest rugby event, we’ve taken an in-depth look at all of the home nations. Up next is Scotland, who haven’t tasted success in the competition since 1999.

While ‘24 years of hurt’ is unlikely to be ringing around Murrayfield over the next few weeks, Scotland are desperate to claim what would be their first title since Italy were instated as the sixth nation.

They threatened an upset in last year’s edition, winning their first two matches, but they ultimately finished third in the table as Ireland ran away with it. And they were dealt a tough hand in autumn’s World Cup as they were drawn in a pool alongside Ireland and South Africa.

They finished third as expected but they didn’t go down without a fight, showing they have the ability to be clinical as they put minnows Romania to the sword in an 84-0 thrashing.

Scotland will be hoping to continue to show their cutting edge as we head into this year’s Six Nations and recent years have shown they’re more than capable of a shock result.

When are Scotland playing?

Wales v Scotland – Saturday 3rd February: Principality Stadium, Cardiff

Scotland v France – Saturday 10th February: Murrayfield, Edinburgh

Scotland v England – Saturday 24th February: Murrayfield, Edinburgh

Italy v Scotland – Saturday 9th March: Stadio Olimpico, Rome

Ireland v Scotland – Saturday 16th March: Aviva Stadium, Dublin

Finn ‘Lionel Messi’ Russell to lead Scotland

This year’s Six Nations seems to be the competition for trying new things, with wholesale changes across the board. Jamie Ritchie captained Scotland at the World Cup but while he’s still in the squad, he’s lost the armband, with Gregor Townsend hoping it will allow him to focus on his game without any added pressure.

In his place, Scotland have named two co-captains. Finn Russell jokingly compared himself to footballing legend Lionel Messi in a Netflix documentary and he’ll be hoping he can emulate the Argentinian by driving his nation to glory.

The fly-half, who has 75 caps for Scotland, will lead the team alongside co-captain Rory Darge. It’s a huge statement from Townsend to bestow the honour on 23-year-old Darge, who has shown himself to be an influential star for the side in recent years.

Scotland could also hand out a few debuts throughout the Six Nations, with five uncapped players set to join the squad. Aaron Reed, Harry Paterson and Alec Hepburn were all named initially, while fellow uncapped players Elliot Millar-Mills and Ross McCann have since been added due to injuries elsewhere.

Can Scotland win the Six Nations?

It’ll be tough! Their competition pedigree is weak having crashed out in the pool stages of the last two World Cups. But they’ve got a big result up their sleeve as England fans are only too familiar with.

Scotland were in dreamland in round one a year ago as they won 29-23 at Twickenham. In fact, they’ve beaten England in each of their last three Six Nations meetings and that psychological advantage could see them through again when the pair face off at Murrayfield on 24th February.

They’ve also pulled rabbits out of hats against other big sides, notably claiming victory away at France back in 2021. Since then, France have gone from strength to strength so the chances of history repeating itself are slim.

However, anything can happen and Scotland will be well aware of their own potential. While they’re no strangers to big results, they’ve not been able to put them together consistently which will likely stop them going all the way.

Scotland Six Nations squad

Forwards: Ewan Ashman, Josh Bayliss, Jamie Bhatti, Andy Christie, Luke Crosbie, Scott Cummings, Jack Dempsey, Rory Darge, Grant Gilchrist, Richie Gray, Matt Fagerson, Zander Fagerson, Alec Hepburn, Johnny Matthews, WP Nel, Jamie Ritchie, Pierre Schoeman, Sam Skinner, George Turner, Glen Young, Elliot Millar-Mills

Backs: Ben Healy, George Horne, Darcy Graham, Rory Hutchinson, Huw Jones, Blair Kinghorn, Stafford McDowall, Harry Paterson, Ali Price, Cameron Redpath, Arron Reed, Kyle Rowe, Finn Russell, Kyle Steyn, Sione Tuipulotu, Duhan van der Merwe, Ben White, Ross McCann

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