Empty Twickenham can benefit England against Scotland, says Gareth Thomas
That’s the opinion of former British and Irish Lion, Gareth Thomas, ahead of this afternoon’s Six Nations kick-off.
The 150th anniversary of the annual Calcutta Cup match will be played behind closed doors as a consequence of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic’s restrictions on large crowds – and the absence of fans eliminates the only matchday element that can’t be recreated on the training ground says the former Welsh international record-holder, who thinks the scenario will suit England against Scotland.
Gregor Townsend’s team will also be avoiding a fervent home support but Thomas, summarising on ITV’s afternoon coverage of the competition’s opening two games, said: "When you try to create the rugby environment, the one thing you can’t recreate is the sense of fans and the passion and atmosphere they bring.
"As far as England’s camps have been going, they’ll always be able to re-invent an international environment on the training ground.
“So for a lot of these England players, it’s not like they haven’t played international games for a long while - a couple of months isn’t a long period - I don’t think Eddie Jones would allow it to affect them in a negative way.”
England are reigning Guinness Six Nations champions after winning last year’s competition – completed last November due to the pandemic.
The 2021 match kicks off at 4.45pm after the tournament begins in Rome with Italy hosting France. Wales and Ireland meet tomorrow.