Scotland 'have to break the game up': Sir Ian McGeechan's key Six Nations advice against England

Former Scotland and Lions coach Sir Ian McGeechan believes Scotland have a set of players capable of seizing opportunities against England at Twickenham.

However the decorated coach – who won the Calcutta Cup three times and another time as a player – believes the set-piece will be key to the fortunes of Gregor Townsend’s team in their Six Nations opener.

Eddie Jones’ reigning champions host Scotland at an empty Twickenham to kick-off the sides’ competition this weekend and with both keen to start the campaign on a positive note, Sir Ian picked the elements where Scotland should focus against a ‘defensively strong’ side.

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"England are really well organised at the set piece and defensively very strong. You have to try to break the game up against them,” he told ITV.

He added: “I’ll be keen to see how the chemistry unfolds but Scotland have to get 50-50 up front possession-wise and the set-piece is going to be key. The first two breakdowns in every set-piece will be pretty well fought and the two back-rows are very very good at the tackle and on the ground.”

Sir Ian, a Five Nations winner as both player and coach, highlighted the return of Finn Russell to the international fold and the debut for Cammy Redpath – a player whose father he selected as Scotland coach - as key components in Scotland hopes of springing a surprise and winning at Twickenham for the first time in almost four decades.

“Finn Russell, for me, has got the best kicking game, and short kicking game of any of the 10s in the Championships. I think he’s built on the experience at Racing and is getting used to controlling games more. He makes fewer errors and is taking far more responsibility. It was interesting to hear Gregor Townsend to say how positive he is in training now too.

Sir Ian McGeechan (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)Sir Ian McGeechan (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Sir Ian McGeechan (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

“We shouldn’t underestimate Cammy Redpath coming in at centre - another very very talented player – and with [Stuart] Hogg at full-back and Ali Price scrum-half, they’ve managed to get a group of players who are talented and see the game early which I think is going to be important to try to seize the opportunities.”

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