The 2020 Six Nations gets underway at the start of next month and Scotland will look to overcome their inconsistencies, which cost them a place in the knockout stages of the 2019 Rugby World Cup. In its current format, Scotland have never won the tournament and you have to go back as far as 1999, when it was the Five Nations to the last year that they were successful. But it’s a new decade and head coach Gregor Townsend has one of the best win-records in the Thistles’ history. As we gear up to this year’s tournament, Six Nations odds available at Betfair position Scotland to finish fifth, ahead of Italy. But can they better the early predictions? Let’s look back on the last decade.
2: The number of wooden spoons Scotland have been awarded
2012 marked the first year in five that Scotland finished bottom of the standings. After four defeats, it came to the final round where Scotland travelled to Rome to face Italy, who too had lost their opening matches. Unable to take advantage of set-pieces, Scotland were beaten 13-6 at the Stadio Olimpico and later that year, after a run of disappointing defeats, Andy Robinson left his post.
Three years later, Scotland were whitewashed again – this time under the coaching of Vern Cotter. Once more, Italy were the victors in their clash, which was played at Murrayfield on this occasion. The win for the Azzurri in round three was enough to leave Scotland propping up the table for the rest of the tournament, which ended with a hammering defeat against Ireland 10-40.
3: The most wins Scotland have secured in a single tournament
It happened in 2018 and saw Scotland finish third in the standings, levelling their best finish since 2013, when they won two of their five matches. After a heavy defeat to Wales in round one, home advantage seemed to pay off as Scotland beat both France and England at Murrayfield. A loss to Ireland was followed up by a narrow win over Italy, in which both teams secured bonus points.
5: Scotland’s most frequent tournament finish
Fifth place and ahead of Italy is Scotland’s most frequent finish in the standings, so it’s no real surprise they’re being touted to end the 2020 Six Nations in that position again. 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2019: four fifth-place finishes and in that time just four wins (and two draws). In last year’s Championship, Scotland started well with a bonus point victory over Italy, before suffering three successive defeats. They got their campaign back on track, finishing with a draw against England at Twickenham and their 38-apiece match was the highest-scoring draw in international rugby history, while Scotland scored six tries to earn a bonus point.
2020: a look ahead to what awaits
With four head coaches of the six teams involved leaving their position after the 2019 Rugby World Cup, it will be interesting to see what the changes mean going into this year’s Championship. Gregor Townsend is one of two coaches still at the helm and following the mixed bag of results at last year’s tournament and the World Cup, the emphasis and pressure may be on those who’ve made drastic changes. France are one of those and have appointed a new head coach, a new captain and have looked to youth, with a large number of uncapped players receiving call-ups to the squad.
The 42-man Scotland squad has not yet been released but it looks as though second-row Sam Skinner is set to return, having missed the World Cup after suffering injury in a warm-up match. Their campaign kicks off on Saturday 1st February against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, before hosting England at Murrayfield the following week. A home tie against France is sandwiched between trips to Rome and Cardiff, with their final game against the current Grand Slam Champions taking place on Saturday 14th March.