WATCH: Inquest begins as Scotland shock England for one of most famous wins in their history

INVARIABLY in sport, the incessant post-match inquest begins as soon as the final whistle is blown, or even before on occasions.

Players have barely had time to dust themselves down, take in one of their recovery drinks – or even take a look at their social media accounts – before they are being asked what went wrong?

So it was on Saturday night after England suffered a shock home defeat at the hands of Scotland, the defence of their Six Nations title beginning in decidedly rocky fashion.

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Three players were placed in front of the Zoom cameras and asked in various different ways about what, how and why things went so awfully awry.

Their head coach Eddie Jones had already described it simply as a “bad day at the office”.

Can it ever be that rudimentary? Perhaps sometimes it is and there is no need for forensic analysis. It just happens.

And let’s not forget, in this instance, Scotland were outstanding; they have waited since 1983 to win at Twickenham and, given the dominance of their display here, it would have been a huge travesty if benign England had somehow snatched a Calcutta Cup victory at the death.

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It says so much about the control, poise, discipline and quality of Scotland’s play, though, that the hosts never truly looked like threatening to do that at any point in the final quarter. Or at all.

Key moment: Scotland's Duhan van der Merwe scores his side's only try against England. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.Key moment: Scotland's Duhan van der Merwe scores his side's only try against England. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.
Key moment: Scotland's Duhan van der Merwe scores his side's only try against England. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.

People who have watched Scotland play all their lives said they have never seen them play better. With that in mind, and given how well the likes of Stuart Hogg, Jonny Gray, Finn Russell and debutant centre Cam Redpath fared, should there even be an England inquest? Well, yes. Because England – on the 150th anniversary of the first meeting of these fierce old foes – were truly wretched.

They had won but won with no style in the autumn. With the country now locked in another lockdown, many hoped the national team - who host Italy next on Saturday - would at least brighten the dispiriting winter gloom with some fresh joie de vivre.

You cannot do that, though,if you do not have the ball. And they barely had it at the weekend. At Twickenham, too. Remarkable.

Again, though, credit Scotland: they were outstanding.

Proud captain: Scotland's Stuart Hogg lifts the Calcutta Cup after the Guinness Six Nations win at Twickenham. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.Proud captain: Scotland's Stuart Hogg lifts the Calcutta Cup after the Guinness Six Nations win at Twickenham. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.
Proud captain: Scotland's Stuart Hogg lifts the Calcutta Cup after the Guinness Six Nations win at Twickenham. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.
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One obvious line of enquiry regarding England’s dire showing was whether their Saracens contingent was truly ready to play.

Since the club’s relegation from the Premiership last autumn – and given the fact the Championship has still yet to resume after being halted by Covid last March – they have been starved of action.

England captain Owen Farrell and fellow Sarries and British Lions stars Maro Itoje, Jamie George and Elliot Daly had not played in two months, their last appearances being in England’s Autumn Nations Cup final against France on December 6.

Asked if there was any relevance to that lack of game-time causing this result, hooker George insisted: “I personally felt really good physically. But then I was just frustrated as we did not have the ball. The only thing there might be a correlation with was just times in the game – especially at the start – where we were all hugely excited to be back at Twickenham playing rugby.

Tartan triumph: Scotland's Hamish Watson, Scott Cummings and Scott Steele celebrate the victory. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.Tartan triumph: Scotland's Hamish Watson, Scott Cummings and Scott Steele celebrate the victory. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.
Tartan triumph: Scotland's Hamish Watson, Scott Cummings and Scott Steele celebrate the victory. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.
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“I think we were probably just a bit twitchy. A bit on edge. Therefore, the ill-discipline crept in. We were just too keen to get involved.”

It was because of that ill-discipline – England conceded 10 penalties by half-time, roughly their average for 80 minutes – that relentless Scotland took hold.

Somehow, though, Gregor Townsend’s side still only led 8-6 at the break, courtesy of Russell’s early penalty and Duhan van der Merwe’s excellent try, set up in essence by more fine promptings from the brilliant No 10.

That try came after a fifth Saracen – Billy Vunipola – was yellow-carded in the 34th minute, referee Andre Brace finally losing patience with England infringing.

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Farrell responded with two penalties, the second after Russell was sin-binned for a trip on Ben Youngs just before the break.

However, Scotland marshalled the spell of being down to 14 men perfectly at the start of the second period, Russell returning to immediately slot another penalty, the last points of a famous Test.

Binned: England's Billy Vunipola (left) is shown a yellow card by referee Andrew Brace. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.Binned: England's Billy Vunipola (left) is shown a yellow card by referee Andrew Brace. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.
Binned: England's Billy Vunipola (left) is shown a yellow card by referee Andrew Brace. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.

George was unaware it had been 38 years since they had fallen to Scotland at HQ but, having fallen in the first game of last season’s Championship and still won it, England know – while jubilant Scotland rightly celebrate – their big fight is not yet lost.

England: Daly; Watson (Malins 75), Slade, Lawrence (Ford 69), May; Farrell, Youngs (Robson 56); Genge, George (Cowan-Dickie 56), Stuart (Williams 63), Itoje, Hill, Wilson (Lawes 53), Curry, Vunipola (Earl 67).

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Scotland: Hogg; Maitland, Harris, Redpath, van der Merwe; Russell, Price (Steele 69); Sutherland (Kebble 64), Turner (Cherry 67), Z Fagerson (Nel 64), Cummings, J Gray, Ritchie (R Gray 66), Watson, M Fagerson (Graham 64).

Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)

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