Scots north and south of the border are steeling themselves for the forthcoming Calcutta Cup match next Saturday, a annual clash that brings us the hope of triumph but also the expectation of something slightly less palatable that will leave us with the pain and resentment of ’small nation syndrome’ for another year.
One of our few players possessed of box office entertainment factor, Stuart Hogg, has put his head above the parapet and accused England of a fundamental lack of respect for Scottish rugby. Some might say that he has a point – this is, after all, an opinion that every Scot learns in the cradle but rarely expresses in public in case, come Six Nations time, it gets rammed down our collective throat.
Being married to an Englishman, over time I have learned to keep my opinions to myself and suffer the family teasing from one and all as an occupational hazard or my cross to bear.
We Scots who ‘married foreign’ have to take pride in small gains and solace where we can.
Mine for this week arrived overnight when the news broke that Exeter Chief’s fly half cum utility back Henry Slade has been added to the England training squad to cover for Brad Barritt – the solid Saracens centre that no rugby romantic loves but rarely lets anyone down – who has now been ruled out of the Six Nations because of his latest injury, a badly-turned ankle suffered against Wasps at the weekend.
Slade is the latest talented youngster off the England Number 10 conveyor belt. His form in the Premiership has been outstanding and he’s definitely ‘one for the future’. He’s been on my wish list for Rugby World Cup selection since his appearance for England in the non-cap Barbarians match last year and, though I don’t think he’ll get game time in the Six Nations, there’s an outside chance that he can impress during the summer and make the England RWC squad.