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VIDEO – England's away game memories: Murrayfield

07 February 2014

  • England trio Dickson, Youngs and Robshaw talk about playing at Murrayfield
  • "They certainly try and make it intimidating" – Youngs

England are in Edinburgh for a second consecutive away trip in the 2014 RBS 6 Nations knowing a hostile environment accentuated by Murrayfield’s distinctive quirks lies in wait. 

Stuart Lancaster won his first game as interim head coach 13-6 at Murrayfield two years ago, when a Charlie Hodgson charge-down and eight points from the boot of debutant Owen Farrell secured victory in cold, blustery conditions.

But a measure of how difficult it is to overcome the Auld Enemy on their home turf soon emerges when looking back a few years; 2012 was England’s only victory in their last four visits and they have not scored more than 15 points at the venue since 2004.

England captain Chris Robshaw lifts the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield in 2012

Photo: Getty Images

Chris Robshaw captained England for the first time in a Test match at Murrayfield in 2012 and recalls that the fun and games started before kick-off. England were given a specific time to enter the stadium and on prompt arrival were blocked by a slow-marching bagpipe band, which delayed them by some 15 minutes.

But with a wry smile that belied a slight pleasure in the differences which mark each away venue England visit as special, he said: “It was frustrating but that’s part of the difference of playing in other countries.

“As the home team you want to offset and unsteady the away side and especially a new group of guys like us, but luckily we got the win that day. And we’ve got to remember those kinds of things going forwards, that we can react and overcome them.

“It’s a game I’ll always remember. Leading the guys out for the first time was a massive occasion and I was very privileged to do so."

Ben Youngs is not part of the match day squad this weekend but the 24-year-old scrum half made his Test debut on the wing at Murrayfield in 2010 as an emergency replacement for Ugo Monye and also started the 2012 fixture.

Ben Youngs spins a pass on his Test debut at Murrayfield in 2010

Photo: Getty Images

Vivid memories of the experience remain for the Leicester Tigers man: “It’s pretty hostile playing in Scotland, they try and make it hard for you. In the away changing room there is a big pillar right in the middle which blocks your view of everything.

“Murrayfield is always sold out when England are there because of the rivalry, the past and everything. It’s a good place to play but they certainly try and make it intimidating.”

England drew 15-15 in 2010 after a heavy pitch put paid to any free-flowing rugby but Youngs has better memories of Lancaster’s first game in charge two years later and the “springboard” it provided for the campaign. Indeed, England went on win three away games in the RBS 6 Nations for the first time in history.

Lee Dickson replaced Youngs from the bench to make his Test debut that “bitterly cold” evening and backs-up starting No.9 Danny Care tomorrow. The 28-year-old describes the atmosphere at Murrayfield as “electric” and pointed out the importance of seeing and hearing white-shirted and loud-voiced English fans in the crowd.

“When you go to a stadium anywhere away from home on international duty and you can hear your own crowd, your own supporters, it gives you a big lift,” said the Northampton Saint.

Lee Dickson box-kicks against Scotland at Murrayfield in 2012

Photo: Getty Images

“Murrayfield is brilliant, it’s got a bit of an electric feel to it with the bagpipes playing, the big smoke coming out before us.

“At the start away from home the crowd always tries to get into the game early doors and it’s our job to try and make sure we worry about ourselves, keep the group that we’ve got tight.

“Whenever you make your debut, whether it was for Saints or for Newcastle, they are very fond memories and playing for my country was one of the biggest things for me. My whole family was up there and it was an emotional experience for me.”