Inside everything is cramped and cozy. The press box is narrow and tight, and dangerously close to the two greenhouses where the coaches and analysts sit, cut off more than any others in the stadium from the noise and ferment.
For the well-heeled in that stand it is tartan blankets on knees and hip-flasks to hand. Elsewhere are the beers and the noise and the abuse.
For England supporters up for the scenic weekend the journey out to the south-west suburbs of the Scottish capital is a rousing one rather than a walk on the wild side. When it’s bitterly cold you just spend more time in the bars. The sunny days just mean you can spend more time gawking at the impossible city-center scenery.
Fear and loathing? 2008 had a fair amount of that, off the back of the Poll Tax and the Conservative government that introduced it north of the border before south, but there have been so many stale years since, seasons when England came and went with bodywork barely dented .
All the way to the anthem played before kick-off for the home team was God Save The Queen. Only when David Sole led his team out on that famous day did Flower of Scotland take hold.
Lewis Ludlam kicked up headlines this week when he talked of sport as conflict. “We want to be brutal. It’s going to be a war, and it’s something we’re excited about. They hate us and we hate them.”
He’s a young player early in his international career. You can maybe forgive the easy descent into hyperbole. But something else he said told you almost as much about this fixture: “For my second cap away at Wales there were old ladies and kids giving you the finger going into the stadium.”
That doesn’t happen at Murrayfield, a more genteel place even for this fixture than Cardiff can be, partly because rugby union does not have the same hold over as great a proportion of the nation as it does in Wales, partly because the stadium is a – minute stroll from the middle of town rather than unmissable in the guts of the city like the Principality.
Wales have won four Grand Slams in the past 40 years. Scotland have been waiting as long for their next as Liverpool have a league title. Unlike at Anfield, there is no realistic end in sight any time soon.
The cliches will tell you too that Scotland need the weather to unleash hell if they are to upset England, as when Duncan Hodge dived through the puddles for the winning try in , as in those narrow six-point squeakers in 2020 and .
But when Scotland ransacked England. – 25 Two years ago it was on a flawless afternoon, all golden winter sun and unbroken blue overhead. The gales and deluge forecast for this Saturday will do little to help a home side who like to put the ball through hands with pace more than any other team in the championship.
Atmospheres can leach away at Scotland v England. Sporting logic takes over. One side has the playing and financial resources to gradually steamroller the other.
That day in it didn’t. It began loud and got louder. Scottish turnovers were celebrated like tries. Supporters were leaping in their seats when England were penalized at the scrum. White-shirted knock-ons triggered wild choruses.
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