Six Nations 2023 preview: can Scotland finally win the championship?

In the 24 years since winning the final Five Nations Championship Scotland have finished no higher than third in the expanded competition.

2022 was a mixed bag of results for Scotland as has been the case since the turn of the millennium. 

Their head coach Gregor Townsend has been in charge for five and a half years. Under his leadership, Scotland have placed third, fifth, fourth, fourth and fourth in five championships, winning 12, losing 12 and drawing one of their 25 matches.

The closest they have come to being genuine title contenders was in 2021 when they defeated England, France and Italy but lost by a single point to eventual winners Wales and by three to Ireland.

Specifically, they held England 38-38 in this series four years ago, before toppling them 11-6 on their last visit to Twickenham.

Scotland are to enter the Six Nations this time round with uncertainty about Townsend’s future as the head coach’s contract will be up after the Rugby World Cup later this year.

Scotland will play three home matches against Wales, Ireland and Italy. Then two away matches against England and France. 

Scotland will face England in the Calcutta Cup match at Twickenham on the opening weekend of the tournament.

Townsend’s team have claimed the Calcutta Cup in four of the last five years, and they will be hoping to repeat their 2021 performance but this time in front of a full crowd. 

Key Players:

Scotland possess one of the most exciting attacking talents in the world in fly-half Finn Russell, and the playmaker will likely be Scotland’s main man over the next two months.

The 30-year-old is capable of unpicking any defence with his vision and running.  

However, questions remain around his fractured relationship head coach Gregor Townsend after he was controversially left out of his Autumn Nations Series squad last year.

Russell was also part of a group of six experienced players who were disciplined for breaching team protocols in last year’s tournament. 

This incident also saw full-back Stuart Hogg stripped of the captaincy, with back-row Jamie Ritchie now skipper. 

Despite a seemingly volatile relationship with coach Townsend, Russell is essential to pulling the strings of this Scotland side. 

There are also four uncapped players in Townsend’s 40-man squad, including Leicester lock Cameron Henderson, Glasgow centre Stafford McDowell, and Ireland-born fly-half Ben Healy.

Bath wing Ruaridh McConnochie, who won two caps for England in 2019, has been called up after World Rugby’s new eligibility ruling.

Townsend admitted that this could be his last Six Nations in charge of Scotland, with no talks to extend his contract which expires at the end of this year.

The coaching team has two new additions on a short-term basis with former New Zealand assistant coach Brad Mooar and Glasgow Warriors assistant Pete Horne, after AB Zondagh left his role as attack coach unexpectedly this month.

Set fixtures: 

  • Round 1: Saturday 4 February

England vs Scotland, 4.45pm, Twickenham Stadium, London (ITV)

  • Round 2: Saturday 11 February 

Scotland vs Wales, 4.45pm, Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh (BBC & S4C)

  • Round 3: Saturday 26 February 

France vs Scotland, 3pm, Stade de France, Paris (ITV)

  • Round 4: Sunday 12 March

Scotland vs Ireland, 3pm, Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh (BBC & S4C)

  • Round 5: Saturday 18 March

Scotland vs Italy, 12.30pm, Murrayfield, Edinburgh (BBC & S4C)

Featured Image Credit: Guinnes Six Nations Youtube

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