The Calcutta Cup is arguably one of the most iconic segments of the annual Six Nations Rugby championship. Dating back to 1879, this match between England and Scotland has become an iconic fixture in the annual rugby calendar and the status of such a rich prize always produces a fiercely competitive confrontation. This year was to prove no different. England entered this round of the tournament battered and lacking momentum, having suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the French in their previous game. Scotland had also experienced defeat in their opening match, although their loss to Ireland was both narrow in margin and bravely conducted. With the match being played at Scotland’s home stadium of Murrayfield, the advantage seemed to lean towards the host team.
The outset of the game saw Scotland apply intense pressure towards the English defence, forcing the visitors on the back foot immediately through a relentless charging down of the English ball carriers. However, England were soon able to overcome this challenge, engaging in a phase of well executed offensive play which saw a gradual breakdown of Scotland’s discipline. Such ill-discipline saw England awarded a penalty just after the ten-minute mark, offering them a key opportunity to capture the first points of the game. Despite facing increasingly strong winds, fly-half Owen Farrell was able to deliver a perfectly aimed kick and provide England with a crucial 3-point lead.
Yet England were far from safe as Scotland quickly responded with a devastatingly effective counterattack, pushing up to within metres of the English try-line. A well-executed lineout and driving maul placed huge volumes of pressure on the English defence, with this only dissipating after a penalty was awarded in favour of the beleaguered defenders. The rest of the first half would see this position of stalemate remain the prominent theme of the match, the equal performances of both sides coupled with extremely unfavourable weather ensured the score would remain just 3-0 to England at the 40-minute mark.
The second half would see this inactivity unwind as the war of attrition began to reap its effects. With the game being so tight Scotland’s energy and passion remained impeccably high and they began the new half with a swift and effective offensive against the visitors. A dropped ball from England’s George Ford saw Scotland rapidly capitalise on his error, loose head prop Rory Sutherland scooping up the ball to make an audacious 25 metre dash deep into the English half of the pitch. While eventually stopped, the home side would continue to press the attack and enjoyed numerous offensive phases of play against a stretched English defence. Despite the defence denying Scotland an urgently needed try, the relentless nature of the Scottish onslaught saw England’s own discipline begin to erode. As a result Scotland were subsequently awarded a penalty kick, with Adam Hastings successfully shooting through the hoops to make the score line equal.
This parity would last for much of the second half, the weather continuing to disrupt the flow of play and lowering the chances further points being scored. However, with just over 10 minutes of the game remaining, England were able to finally score the vital try. A terrible error by Scottish full back Stuart Hogg, who fumbled the ball on his own try-line, led to England being awarded a scrum within metres of the line. A series of powerful carries soon followed, with a significant supporting drive by Maro Itoje enabling teammate Ellis Genge to smash past the defence to score. This converted try would then be followed by another three points minutes later as England capitalised upon poor Scottish discipline and were awarded another penalty kick. Although the home side were able to pick up three more points in the closing minutes, there was simply not enough time to catch up on the point deficit. As a result, this tightly fought meeting concluded with a narrow 13-6 win for England which makes them the winners of the Calcutta Cup for 2020 and supplants Scotland to fourth in the tournament rankings.