This article by Sean Lineen, the former Scotland centre, was in The (Glasgow) "Herald" the day before the Calcutta Cup game in 2002. In terms of accuracy it is uncannily inaccurate, and as such is a treasure.
I wouldn't be at all surprised if England got a real kicking on Saturday. I am talking about use of the ball, of course, and the immediate influence the Australian kicking expert, Michael Byrne, may have on proceedings.
This is actually true. I was at a party a couple of weeks ago singing along to Neil Diamond, as men in their 40s do, when a woman approached me and asked why on earth the Scottish rugby team had hired a "cooking guru".
Maybe a cooking guru would help. Maybe a cooking foach would help even more.
Anyway, with the way defences have developed, it is becoming a real challenge on how to break through the well organised enemy ranks. In the old days, it was an admission of limited attacking options if you continually put boot to ball, but nowadays a well-placed kick can reap rewards. Position and pressure can usually equal points. But, first of all, Budge and the boys need to win, secure, and provide quick ball to ignite attacks from both the ground and the air.
The New Zealand referee for this game, Steve Walsh, controlled the game between Boroughmuir and Gala last Saturday and I approached him before the game to enquire as to what the dos and don'ts were as far as he was concerned. "Mate, it all starts at the set-piece," was all he really said, before adding: "We get all the restarts right and the game should flow from there."
He certainly didn't mess about at set-piece, awarding many a free kick and penalty, but he played advantage very astutely and dealt with persistent offenders effectively.
England will undoubtedly try to suffocate the game out of Scotland by outmuscling us up front and using Jonny Wilkinson's boot.
That's right, Sean, I guess that Jonny did some kicking, mainly through the posts if I remember right.
By dropping Mike Catt (and what a mistake that is), they have a centre partnership based on bulk rather than speed or vision.
Yes, Tindall, Greenwood, no vision.
Think about it: a new front row without the giant Phil Vickery, Ben Kay in for Danny Grewcock, and still no Lawrence Dallaglio, who means so much to them. And that is only in the forwards.
Yup, no chance then.
As for the backs, I am even more inclined to think that both Jason Robinson and Austin Healey, long of talent but short in height, will be the recipients of a number of high kicks that will land at approximately the same time as a minimum of three men in blue. If they also have to look up into the pouring rain as the ball heads towards them, accompanied by an unsettling cocktail of 65,000 screaming Scots, then it truly is game on. I have yet to see Robinson catch two high kicks in a game when pressurised.
Well, maybe you've got to put him under pressure first, Sean.
He has assumed the mantle of Jeremy Guscott as a player to give no room to; he is a devastating attacker but is one line further back in attack and, as both English centres couldn't pass the time of day, the full back's main ammunition will come from any misdirected kicks.
This is Tindall and Greenwood, I presume, who can't pass? So I guess that Jason's two tries came from lucky punts?
Yes, back to the kicking. At a coaching conference two weeks ago, Ian McGeechan mentioned how there are three ways for an attacking team to move forward: by going through, around, or over the opposition. On the other hand, there are three ways for Scotland to go- left, right and back. By over, he does not mean à la Lomu, trampling over defenders, but clever use of kicks in behind flat defensive lines.
When Super 12 started, everyone became obsessed with building up the phases and retaining possession, trying to bash your way over the gain line. We are now seeing the incorporation of the long pass, which, if it is accurate and quick, can stretch defences both ways before either setting up quick ball in which an attacking back finds himself against a tiring prop, or simply making it a numbers game where you orchestrate five attackers against a lesser number of defenders.
But what to do when the ball is inevitably slowed down and defenders are lining your runners up with a glint in their eye? You can't pass the ball forward American football style just yet, but the nearest thing to it is a chip kick in behind to an on-side runner. Still the most effective kick, though, is the good old garryowen. The sort in which that Aussie duo, Tim Horan and Jason Little, were not just happy to chase the kicks and put pressure on the catcher, but to actually try to catch the ball.
Yup, good idea, Sean. Maybe Tindall can use that one.
The kicks will have to be spot-on, as will the follow-up pressure, so why not sometimes kick the ball out? Scott Murray is world-class at pilfering opposition ball, while neither Stuart Grimes nor Jason White is a shrinking violet. I can just hear the verbals being thrown at new English hooker Steve Thomson as he prepares to throw the ball in, from his Northampton-based Scottish team-mates.
And I can imagine the verbals in Northampton training tomorrow.
Although Scotland are rightly underdogs, I am genuinely excited about this game, and not just because we will be celebrating Gavin Hastings 40th birthday party after the game. Another former Watsonian could have even more to celebrate. I have been delighted at the way Duncan Hodge has proved to everyone he is more than just a kicker.
Oh, he's a KICKER! Now I understand. Thanks for explaining that one, Sean.
He may not agree, but it needed a kick up the backside and competition from Gordon Ross to bring out a bit of attitude and defiance from Edinburgh's stand-off.
No-one likes marking Gregor Townsend, but it is big James McLaren who holds the key to unlocking the English defence. I assume that is why Catt has given way to the bigger midfield of Greenwood and a resurgent Mike Tindall.
Big Jim has been in strong form for Glasgow and it is how he is used in attack with and without the ball that will be of much interest. And our trusted 16th man, the weather, looks like he’s turning up in spades as well. It just could be a good night.