Old rivalry continues at JWC 2009 in Tokyo
By Rich Freeman
They may be a long way from home and playing at a neutral venue but there’s sure to be a little extra edge to the match when rugby’s oldest international opponents face off at the IRB TOSHIBA Junior World Championship 2009.
It may also cause new Scotland coach Andy Robinson, whose son is involved with the England Under 18 set up, to question his loyalties.
“Knowing Andy, his diplomatic comment will be he is in Romania with Scotland A so he has enough on his plate,” said Scotland manager John Jeffrey when asked who he thought Robinson would be cheering for. “But I would like to think he has more of an eye on the Scotland team.”
England come into their Pool B match with Scotland off the back of a 43-0 win over hosts Japan at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, while the Scots will be looking to get their campaign back on track following a last-minute 17-14 loss to Samoa.
“It does mean a little extra,” said England coach Mark Mapletoft. “We met in the Six Nations and I have known a lot of their management team since before we were involved in age-group rugby.
“Obviously we want to keep our momentum going, while we don’t want the Scots to bounce back from the loss to Samoa.”
The two sides met earlier this year in the RBS Under 20 Six Nations with England winning 20-6 to deny Scotland the Triple Crown, a result that Mapletoft says “possibly makes us favourites.”
But the England team shows 10 changes from the side that won in Worcester and with the crowd probably favouring the underdog, Mapletoft said there will be a completely different complexion to the match when it kicks off at 19:00 local time at Tokyo’s Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium on Tuesday.
One thing’s for sure though, while Scotland will be walking onto the pitch, it won’t be in the same confrontational manner as when Jeffrey and assistant coach Craig Chalmers beat England to clinch the 1990 Calcutta Cup and Grand Slam.
“Both sides have to come together so there won’t be that gladiatorial-style entrance,” quipped Jeffrey. “And looking at the size of the stands, it’s good we walk out otherwise a few of the players might bang their heads as they come out!”
Jeffrey, however, did agree with Mapletoft – for slightly different reasons – that local support may favour the Scots.
“Wherever England go it seems everyone supports the other team,” he said with a twinkle in his eye.
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