England v Scotland: Gordon Bulloch backs Stuart Hogg to follow on Lions path
ONE OF former Scotland captain Gordon Bulloch's biggest regrets is never being part of a side that defeated England.
In fairness, it should not cause any great chagrin for the former Leeds Tykes hooker who represented his country on 75 occasions between 1997 and 2005.
After all, it was 1983 the last time a Scotland side actually won at Twickenham where the old rivals meet again this evening with the Triple Crown and Calcutta Cup at stake.
None of the current team were even born then.
Furthermore, they won only once at Murrayfield between victories in 1990 and, just months after his international retirement, their next in 2006 so plenty of his fellow countrymen have suffered similar frustrations.
Indeed, Scotland have not prospered against the Auld Enemy since a 15-9 success in Edinburgh in 2008 but the former Glasgow star feels there is a chance that could soon change.
Although the hosts are defending Six Nations champions, on course for successive grand slams and will draw level with New Zealand’s world record of 18 successive Test wins with another victory tonight, Bulloch is enthused by his country’s wins over Ireland and Wales in this tournament.
“England are very strong up front; if they secure plenty of ball and slow down the ruck like they can, Scotland will find it difficult,” he told The Yorkshire Post.
“But Scotland have done well so far this year and, importantly, started to score tries, taking chances when they are on offer and from deep, too.
“That has got us to a stage where we can compete in these sorts of games; you need to score 20 points to have a chance of winning a Test match and we have the ability to do that.”
That is illustrated by the number of players being talked of as potential British Lions ahead of this summer’s tour to New Zealand, not least sublime full-back Stuart Hogg.
Bulloch represented the Lions in 2001 and 2005 and said: “It’s about time. There’s been a generation that’s seen very little recognition by the Lions and fairly so; they’ve not been good enough. But, hopefully, we’ll see seven or eight on this tour and get two or three in the Test team.
“That will be important for Scotland; it means they won’t have an issue playing the best team in the world and players will be able to see they’re equals. In times gone by, a lack of Test Lions has led to Scotland gaining an inferiority complex but this time around we should see people like Hogg, the Gray brothers, Finn Russell…”
With those players in such fine form, Bulloch believes Scotland’s wretched run against England can potentially end.
The 41-year-old conceded: “It is one of the biggest regrets I have – not winning at Twickenham or Murrayfield against England. But I played in an era when they had Wilkinson, Johnson, Back, Dallaglio… the list goes on.
“I was injured in 2000 when we did win and, realistically, we should have won in ’99, too, when we took the Championship.
“We played all the rugby and just let England off the hook with a couple of missed kicks.
“For such a long time, Scotland have been the poor relation of British rugby. But this could be the start of a bright new era and, hopefully, that can change.”
On his season at Headingley in 2005-06, that ended in relegation, Bulloch recalled: “It was an experience.
“They’d won the Powergen Cup the year before and expectancy levels were high.
“We’d signed Justin Marshall, too, but got off to a bad start, losing our first two games in London at Saracens after losing v Irish in the double-header at – Twickenham.
“We never got going.”