How do you explain that extraordinary match at Twickenham on Saturday?
A totally one-sided affair in the first half, with England rampant and Scotland wilting, that somehow ended in a draw – and very nearly Scotland’s first win in London since 1983.
The BBC described “a chasm-like disparity” between the two teams in that opening period, and somehow that was reversed after half-time.
Were Scotland so brilliant in the second half that suddenly England couldn’t live with them? What did Gregor Townsend say to his side at half-time? And what about Eddie, what did he say?
There has been talk of England’s response to the Scots’ pressure and how they need to work on their mental game. That seems plausible, given the defeat in Cardiff. But how much pressure were they really feeling on Saturday at 31-7, or even at 31-19 and then 31-24? Wales had already won the Grand Slam, and there was little at stake.
England put everything through the hands in the first half, playing at pace with backs and forwards offloading to willing runners, whilst others ran decoy lines, causing mayhem in Scotland’s defence and seemingly scoring every time they had the ball.
But in the second half, the plan seemed to revert to aimless kicking from Ben Youngs and Owen Farrell. The contrast was so stark that this must have been a conscious change of tactics, and this allowed Scotland back into the game – as opposed to Scotland forcing the change.
With the Six Nations over and Scotland all but beaten, why would England keep running their strike moves, displaying more of their attacking armoury for future opposition teams to analyse?
As we have seen in recent matches, in this era of detailed video analysis, every team must constantly innovate to stay one step ahead of defences. There was no need to reveal too much in that second half against Scotland, so why not just kick the ball away and keep a few moves under wraps before the Rugby World Cup?
Scotland obviously improved their game at the same time, and it was never meant to get that close – but when faced with defeat, England started playing again and duly scored and managed to avoid an embarrassing defeat.
What other explanation can their possibly be? In Eddie we trust, sort of!