It may have the A designation affixed but Saturday’s game between Scotland and England at Leicester’s Welford Road has all the usual baggage of the clash, says Scotland assistant coach Peter Murchie.
The Glasgow coach has taken the defence brief from Steve Tandy while the Welshman is away with the Lions. The three-match Scotland summer tour has full tests against Romania and Georgia to follow Sunday’s meeting with the Auld Enemy.
But with plenty of seasoned internationals available as well as those the Scotland management want to develop, there’s no change to the usual routine, reports Murchie.
‘A game against England is always a big occasion’
“We’re treating it like a Test week in terms of our build-up,” he said. “Obviously a game against England is always a big occasion. So the fact that we’ve got this game is brilliant: it’s a really meaningful fixture for us.
“It’s the end of a long season, but you can tell the guys are still keen. They’ve got that renewed energy from coming into an international environment.”
“I think when you’re playing against England you don’t have to worry about motivation. It’s an opportunity to put on the thistle, and whenever you do that it’s an honour.
“There doesn’t seem to me in our preparation that guys are going through the motions. Everyone’s really preparing well for a big game on Sunday.”
Ashman arrives as Rodd chooses England
England have selected a strong squad, but were delayed in finalising it due to the Premiership semi-finals at the weekend. Scots-eligible but uncapped Sale prop Bevan Rodd is in Eddie Jones’ squad, but his team-mate Ewan Ashman, also courted by the English head coach, has arrived in Scotland camp.
“Capturing is a bit of a talking point in the international game at the moment, but I don’t think that we have to capture this player or that,” added Murchie. “It’s about whether they have earned the opportunity and do we want to get them in this environment.
“As far as I’m concerned, the capturing aspect isn’t a motivation to get these guys in. A lot of them will have been in the system and in these camps for a long time and have committed to playing for Scotland.
“England have made a few changes off the back of the semi-final results. There is a massive change in personnel in terms of who is away with the Lions and who is being rested.
“We will concentrate on ourselves. We will obviously do our homework but the main thing is that we have our own house in order.”
Scotland’s set principles are staying
Bring on the weekend 👊🏴
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) June 22, 2021
Continuity and consistency is essential with head coach Gregor Townsend and Tandy awa, but the key principles are staying.
“The Scotland defence has been excellent the last two years,” said Murchie. “There’s no point me trying to be Steve, because it’s not going to be authentic. But he’s been absolutely awesome while I’ve worked closely with him for the last three or four months now.
“There’s definitely a consistency in what we’re trying to do. But at the same time Steve’s very open to trying a couple of things and trying to push forward in a couple of areas.”
Scotland will name their team for the game on Friday.