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England captain Matt Dawson
"Having new players in the team can often inspire"
 real 28k

Saturday, 1 April, 2000, 19:48 GMT 20:48 UK
History weighs heavy at Murrayfield

Scotland shook the rugby world with their 1990 win
Scotland v England - Sunday April 2, 14:00 BST

England are being tipped to claim a historic Grand Slam by beating Scotland in the Calcutta Cup match at Murrayfield on Sunday.

So formidable have Clive Woodward's team been this season, that there are few experts willing to bet against them clinching a clean sweep of five victories in the first ever Six Nations Championship.

Wales' 23-19 victory over Ireland on Saturday ensured the championship itself for England.


Scotland v England
Record Scotland win: 33-6, 1986
Record England win: 41-13, 1997
Points record: 24 - Rob Andrew (Eng)
Since 1990, England have won all nine Championship meetings
The countries have met 116 times and England lead the series 60-39
But there is a 10-year-old spectre hanging over the English as they head north to Edinburgh.

Back in 1990 the English were also expected to achieve glory when they took the field at Murrayfield.

The Grand Slam was again at stake and few people gave the home side a chance against Will Carling's highly-touted side.

But the previously all-conquerring English team spectacularly came a cropper as David Sole's underdogs secured their place in Six Nations history with one of the most famous victories in the history of the game.



England captain Matt Dawson has come of age
One of the major differences between 1990 and 2000 now is, of course, the state of the Scotland team.

Ten years ago, it was not just England who were chasing the Grand Slam - the Scots too were defending a 100% record after a superb season.

This time, however, they are in a dismal state, staring at the distinct prospect of the wooden spoon.

They may have a 100% record, but unfortunately for coach Ian McGeechan and his players, it is not one to be proud of as they have so far lost every game in the 2000 Championships.

McGeechan himself knows how tough it will be for his team - who were crowned as the last ever Five Nations Champions just 12 months ago - to end their losing run against the best team in Europe.



Ian McGeechan: Selection headaches
"In a five-game competition, momentum is very important," he said.

"You only have to look at Ireland this year to see what can happen.

"We got off to the worst possible start against Italy, and that didn't allow us to build our game."

Much of the focus of the build-up to Sunday's game has been on the 1990 clash - but McGeechan is not investing too much hope in the spirit of championships past.



Even I was young 10 years ago - and most of the current England squad were in short trousers.

Clive Woodward
"People talk about 1990, but it is of no relevance at all," he said. "Most of our guys were still at school, and even I can barely remember it.

"There is also one major difference from that game. In 1990 we had won all our matches - this season we haven't won any."



Richard Metcalfe and Jason White will make their Scotland debuts
England coach Woodward agreed with his opposite number that a 10-year-old match is unlikely to mean much to his troops.

For the English side of 2000 there is a much more recent result that needs to be expunged from their collective memory.

Last year they squandered the Grand Slam and the Championship with a dramatic and surprising last-minute defeat by Wales at Wembley - a result that handed Scotland the title.

Now they are desperate not to suffer a similar shock and instead fulfil their potential by cementing their place as unchallenged kings of the northern hemisphere game.

"Last year we all learnt a big lesson," Woodward said. "People built us up; we were red-hot favourites against Wales, and lost.

"If we perform well on Sunday then we can win. If we don't then we get beat."



Hooker Phil Greening has been one of the stars so far
The pressure of expectation may be on England, but the chances of Scotland causing an upset still look rather slim.

England, inspired by stand-in captain and effervescent scrum-half Matt Dawson, have been playing an irresistible brand of "total rugby".

Fringe players like hooker Phil Greening, centre Mike Catt and wings Austin Healey and Ben Cohen have taken the season by storm, popping up all over the field to claim a string of tries.

More established figures, including former captain Lawrence Dallaglio - arguably the player of the championship - and Neil Back, have enhanced their reputations with stunning displays.

They are already champions-elect and only an astonishing set of results - which would have to produce an 80-point swing to second-placed Ireland - can now deny them the title.

Scotland, on the other hand, have appeared bedraggled ever since they began their campaign with a shock turnover by newcomers Italy.

While England have been able to adopt a remarkably consistent selection policy - Phil Vickery's injury for the Wales game is the only change Woodward has made - the Scots have been ravaged by personnel problems.

Under-performing regulars like Kenny Logan have been dropped, captain John Leslie heads a long list of injury victims and the debacle over eligibility has robbed them of the services of David Hilton - as well as harming the morale of an already shell-shocked side.

So the clever money remains with England.

But as 1990 showed, in this famous old championship anything is possible.


Murrayfield teams:

Scotland: C Paterson (Edinburgh); C Moir (Northampton), G Townsend (Brive), J McLaren (Bourgoin), G Metcalfe (Glasgow); D Hodge (Edinburgh), A Nicol (Glasgow, capt); T Smith (Brive), S Brotherstone (Brive), M Stewart (Northampton), S Murray (Saracens), R Metcalfe (Northampton), J White (Glasgow), B Pountney (Northampton), M Leslie (Edinburgh).
Replacements: G Scott (Glasgow), G McIlwham (Glasgow), S Grimes (Newcastle), S Reid (Narbonne), B Redpath (Narbonne), G Shiel (Edinburgh), A Bulloch (Glasgow).

England: M Perry (Bath); A Healey (Leicester), M Tindall (Bath), M Catt (Bath), B Cohen (Northampton); J Wilkinson (Newcastle), M Dawson (Northampton, capt); J Leonard (Harlequins), P Greening (Wasps), P Vickery (Gloucester), G Archer (Bristol), S Shaw (Wasps), R Hill (Saracens), N Back (Leicester), L Dallaglio (Wasps).
Replacements: N McCarthy (Gloucester), T Woodman (Gloucester), M Corry (Leicester), J Worsley (Wasps), A Gomarsall (Bedford), A King (Wasps), I Balshaw (Bath).

Referee: Clayton Thomas (Wales).

Touch judges: David McHugh (Ireland) and Giovani Morandin (Italy).

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See also:

01 Apr 00 | Six Nations
Wales triumph over fighting Irish
31 Mar 00 | Six Nations
The fat lady is not singing yet
01 Apr 00 | Six Nations
Brave Italy edged out in Paris
30 Mar 00 | Rugby Union
Scots opt for new blood
29 Mar 00 | Six Nations
Vickery back for Six Nations finale
28 Mar 00 | Rugby Union
Nicol takes Scotland captaincy
18 Mar 00 | Six Nations
Healey hat-trick sparks Roman romp
18 Mar 00 | Six Nations
Williams double rocks Scots
Links to other Six Nations stories are at the foot of the page.