Former England head coach Eddie Jones insists containing Finn Russell holds the key to relieving Scotland of the Calcutta Cup at Twickenham on Saturday.
Jones was involved in seven editions of the Guinness Six Nations before being sacked in December in response to a dire 2022 and his overall record against Scotland reads three wins and a draw in seven meetings.
The 63-year-old is backing England to win by three points with Owen Farrell kicking the decisive penalty, but he believes the Scots’ fate lies in the hands of their mercurial fly-half Russell.
Referencing the Lions playmaker’s stormy relationship with his head coach Gregor Townsend, Jones views his presence as offering the potential for death or glory for Saturday’s underdogs.
“Gregor Townsend was an older version of Finn Russell and that’s probably why him and Finn Russell don’t get on,” recently appointed Australia boss Jones told the podcast ‘EDDIE’.
“He sees Finn Russell in the mirror – doesn’t want to listen to the coach, wants to do it his own way, ‘what does he know, just let me play because I want to play’. They butt heads.
“If Finn Russell plays, he gives Scotland an outstanding chance to win. It also means that if England get on top, Scotland will probably get hammered because he will keep taking risks under pressure and will give England more opportunities to score.”
“Vern Cotter, who was the previous Scotland coach, did a great job. He did some work with Owen Eastwood who wrote the book ‘Belonging’,” Jones said.
“If you haven’t read it, it’s a great read about the influence of the history of a country on the way that you play your sport. Also about the importance of belonging to any sort of community.
“I remember Vern used Owen and they together did this fantastic video of Scotland the Brave, fighting everyone, fighting the English.
“Because they’re a smaller country they’ve always thrived on creating chaos and so that’s reflected in their rugby. They want to break the game up. The English want to be organised.
“And so you’ve got this contrast between the structure and organisation and power of England and the unstructured, chaotic nature of Scottish rugby.
“Can England keep the structure? England will get opportunities to attack and then they’ve got to be good enough to take them. Or can Scotland break the game up?
“You’ve got this beautiful contrast in philosophy in how you do things. They are two very good coaches – Steve is methodical, Gregor more wants to do different things, wants to play the game differently.
“The referee will have a major bearing, how he referees the breakdown. Scotland will go hard at the breakdown and will have identified that as a weakness of England’s, in particular with Tom Curry out. That may present an opportunity.”