Young Lions tipped to wipe out shame
SIX NATIONS RUGBY UNION
GRAHAM ROWNTREE is backing a young England side to start banishing the country’s World Cup shame in Saturday’s Calcutta Cup showdown.
Rowntree is the only surviving member of the England management team from the World Cup, a failed campaign which left him “ashamed” and sullied the reputation of red rose rugby.
The fall-out was brutal – but forwards boss Rowntree was retained by interim head coach Stuart Lancaster to help build a new England team with a new culture.
Rowntree expects Scotland will relish the chance in their Six Nations opener to welcome a raw England side, possibly featuring three uncapped players, into the hostile surrounds of Murrayfield.
If Owen Farrell, Brad Barritt and Phil Dowson are given their Test debuts, they are tipped to be joined by Mouritz Botha and new captain Chris Robshaw, who have just one Test cap apiece.
Rowntree is happy to concede England are underdogs – but he warned Scotland not to underestimate his men on the grounds of Test match experience.
“Scotland always save a passion up for us,” said Rowntree.
“Going up there, especially at this point in time, given where we have been, the unspeakable past, they will be licking their lips.
“We will be expecting that. Those emotions and those experiences of running out on the field are what drive you as a player.
“It is a fact we are underdogs in terms of experience. No-one expects us to do well.
“We’ll have something to say about that. We have not got as much experience as previous teams, but these guys are good enough.
“What has impressed me has been the energy and eagerness to get us up and running again.
“We reached a bit of a low as a national team, but we dropped that within two days of being together.
“If you look in our dressing room, there is plenty of passion and Englishness there.
“Away games in club land and the Test arena are what makes it special. I envy the players.”
BRIGHT FUTURE: Owen Farrell is hoping to make his Test debut with Brad Barritt (top inset) and Phil Dowson (below inset)