We look ahead to Saturday’s 2024 Guinness Men’s Six Nations match in Edinburgh with our Scotland vs England prediction and preview.

Moving on after your heart has been broken is always hard. After a two-week break, Scotland must put the defeat to France behind them. And surely there’s no better way to focus the rugby mind than a Calcutta Cup match.

Scotland have won each of their last three Guinness Men’s Six Nations matches against England, as many victories as they’d managed in their previous 20 attempts (D2, L15). You have to go back to the 19th century though, for the last time they recorded four consecutive Championship victories against the Auld enemy (1893-1896).

England have won their opening two matches and will aim to open a campaign with three straight victories for the first time since 2017, a year they went on to win the Championship. Another victory here could get the fans dreaming again, although games against Ireland and France to round off the campaign will be the toughest of challenges.

But Scotland have the confidence of recent head-to-head success between these two sides, and will be primed to spoil England’s party before it even gets going. Surely the Scots will adopt a more aggressive and attacking approach to try and put the game beyond doubt before the dying moments of the game in this one. Once bitten, and all that.

Both sides have had extremely tight matches in the opening two rounds, with all four of their games being decided by four points or fewer. Will that trend continue at Murrayfield and are we in for another nailbiter?


One really interesting focus for this match will be the collision zone. Both teams have looked to assert physical superiority over their opponents so far and indeed rank first and second for dominant tackles and dominant tackle percentage.

Six Nations 2024 - Dominant Tackle Rates

England have been successful in dodging tackles so far, though, and when they have found contact, they’ve sucked in multiple defenders. Steve Borthwick’s side have the highest tackle evasion rate (24%, Scotland have the lowest at 14%) and the highest rate of committing 2+ tacklers per carry (58%).

Scotland have altered their approach from 2023 for this edition of the Six Nations. Last year, they moved the ball wide more often (14%) than any other team. This year they’ve flipped that to the lowest rate (7%). They’ve also started kicking more, with Finn Russell needing just 26 more kick metres to notch up a mile of metres in this year’s Six Nations.

Whether those tactical changes are strengths or weaknesses, time will tell, but it’s certainly the way that Gregor Townsend wants his team to play.


One area of the modern game which is key to unlocking defences is the offload. England, however, have been reluctant to shift the ball out of the tackle before a ruck ensues, attempting the fewest offloads (8) of any side so far, and pairing that with the lowest offload success rate (63%).

On the flip side, they have allowed their opponents to make more offloads out of the tackle (24) than anyone else, failing to wrap up the ball quickly enough to stop it being shipped on.

In contrast, Scotland have attempted more offloads (23) than any other side and have also conceded the fewest (14).

Townsend’s men don’t have too many weaknesses on the face of it, performing solidly in most facets of the game. If we are getting nitpicky then their discipline has been wide of the mark so far, almost costing them their win against Wales and not helping their momentum versus France.

The Irish have surprisingly conceded the most penalties (24) of any side so far, but Scotland are second on this ranking with 22, including a Championship-high eight in attack. If we dig a bit deeper we can see exactly where they need to sharpen up.

Scotland vs England - Scotland Discipline Six Nations

The set-piece has resulted in five penalties conceded: three at the scrum and two at the lineout. Twelve have come in the tackle or subsequent ruck, three for offside and two more for other offences. Specifically, ‘not releasing’ and ‘off feet at ruck’ are the two biggest causes of Scotland’s woes, and they’ll want to tidy this up to allow their attack more fluidity and their defence more reassurance.

Standout Players

For England, the two-week break has allowed a handful of players to return from injury to bolster Borthwick’s options, although mercurial fly-half Marcus Smith remains out. One of those players returning is midfield maestro Ollie Lawrence who is set to play his first game of this year’s Championship. The Bath man has proved a really reliable option for club and country when fit in recent seasons and adds ball-carrying heft and nuance.

Of the 70 centres to make 40+ carries across the Premiership, URC and Europe this season, it is Lawrence who has the best gainline success rate (72%). And of centres to play 400+ mins in those competitions (63 players), he has the best rate of breaks per 80 minutes (1.1) and second-best rate for defenders beaten per 80 (4.6).

Lawrence’s ability to carry the ball into, through and around contact gives him a real purpose in the midfield, and it also frees up space for other players when he’s used as a decoy. He looks set to be a real asset to Borthwick if he can find consistent game time.

Scotland will benefit from the return of Blair Kinghorn, who was sidelined for the opening two rounds and offers an additional playmaking outlet alongside Finn Russell. The Toulouse full-back ranks fourth for try assists per 80 minutes among Tier 1 players since the start of 2022 (0.70), only behind Willie Le Roux (0.97), Antoine Dupont (1.00) and the aforementioned Russell (0.98).

The Scottish tend to play with a lot more width when both are on the pitch, progressing the ball beyond the first receiver from 38% of their attacking phases when both start (since 2020), compared to just 28% when either are omitted.

This will be music to the ears of Duhan van der Merwe, who scored twice in this fixture last year, including the 2023 try of the tournament. Should he receive the usual service from Russell and Kinghorn, he’ll fancy his chances of making it four tries in four Six Nations matches against England.

Scotland vs England Prediction

Ahead of kick-off, the Opta supercomputer has Scotland as favourites to win this year’s edition of the Calcutta Cup.

Scotland vs England Prediction Opta

Scotland vs England Lineups

Townsend makes three changes to Scotland’s starting XV to play England. Blair Kinghorn is back in the team, and will start at full-back with Kyle Rowe dropping out of the matchday squad.

As well as Kinghorn, Kyle Steyn comes back into the starting team. In the forwards, Jamie Ritchie comes in for Matt Fagerson.

Scotland: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Kyle Steyn, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Sione Tuipulotu, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell (co-captain), 9 Ben White; 1 Pierre Schoeman, 2 George Turner, 3 Zander Fagerson, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 5 Scott Cummings, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 7 Rory Darge (co-captain), 8 Jack Dempsey.

Replacements: 16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Elliot Millar-Mills, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Andy Christie, 21 George Horne, 22 Ben Healy, 23 Cameron Redpath.

In England team news, George Furbank starts at full-back with Freddie Steward dropping out of the matchday squad. Ollie Lawrence returns from injury and Danny Care starts and wins his 99th cap for the injured Alex Mitchell.

England: 15 George Furbank, 14 Tommy Freeman, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ollie Lawrence, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 George Ford, 9 Danny Care; 1 Ellis Genge, 2 Jamie George (c), 3 Dan Cole, 4 Maro Itoje, 5 Ollie Chessum, 6 Ethan Roots, 7 Sam Underhill, 8 Ben Earl.

Replacements: 16 Theo Dan, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Will Stuart, 19 George Martin, 20 Chandler Cunningham-South, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Fin Smith, 23 Immanuel Feyi-Waboso.

Other Six Nations Round 3 Fixtures:

Ireland v Wales – Aviva Stadium, Dublin – Saturday 24 February, 14:15 GMT

France v Italy – Decathlon Arena, Lille – Saturday 10 February, 16:45 GMT

Enjoy this? Subscribe to our mailing list to receive exclusive weekly content. And follow us on X too.