England 13
Scotland 6

The plastic bottle that struck one of Eddie Jones's assistants on the head as England arrived at Murrayfield at least saved us from banging on about the weather. It was a reprehensible act, and a sign that ramping up hostility for theatrical effect is not without consequences.

England's coach was not de-escalating as he switched from not wanting to answer questions about the Ireland game to a final dig at Scotland, a country he has never been slow to provoke (only this week he called them "niggly.") After Neil Craig was struck by the plastic missile, solitary-sex gestures were aimed at the England squad, and their goal-kicking was booed, Jones observed tartly: "There is a new level of respect in Scotland which we have got to put up with."

As sideshows go, in football it would not register highly. In rugby, it marked a crossing of a line Jones has pushed in search of an edge. Not that he should be blamed for a bottle being thrown. But it showed the potential volatility of Anglo-Scottish relations in these strained political times. At the very least it was a cautionary tale.


The game itself may have set some kind of record for the least amount of rugby in an 80-minute contest, but England will be happy with that. The weather was anti-sport. The result was pro- Jones, whose reign was fraying before another try-line error by Stuart Hogg opened the gates for a win so ugly it should never show itself again.

With England's credibility cracking, along came a storm to turn this Calcutta Cup match into a test of their ability to outwit wind. South Africa and France put your future in doubt - then you find yourself battling against mother nature to keep a head coach's career on track. England lost their composure for several phases but found refuge from self-doubt with an Ellis Genge try.

"Today was a test of leadership - how you adapt to the conditions, and I thought today our leadership was outstanding," Jones said, in a frosty press conference at which he kept saying "no comment" before warming up, slightly.

Scotland-England is seldom a dramatic spectacle. Last year's momentous 38-38 draw at Twickenham was the exception that proves that rule. Piled high with baggage, the game is long on history and often short on aesthetic merit. This time Murrayfield doubled up as a ravaged film set with flags straining at their poles and high kicks working more like boomerangs, rising and then spinning back towards the kicker.

In such conditions you can talk all you like about tactics, team selection and the coach's future. But it really comes down to not doing stupid things, in conditions that are death to ambition. In that sense at least it was the workout England needed: a chance to think clearly and adapt, which they were unable to do in the World Cup final against the Springboks and in Paris last weekend.

In front of a restive audience who were preoccupied with flight and train cancellations, England lead by a football score at half-time: 3-0. And frankly it was a wonder either side progressed beyond zero.

But then Scotland 'won' the half-time team talks and regroup, re-emerging with far more purpose to set up shop in England's half, draw level with an Adams Hastings penalty and force England back into imprecision. When confidence is low and the fans are jittery, George Ford throwing a pass over Jonny May's head can feel like the start of another implosion. The Scots sensed English discomfort and piled on more pressure. Six times in a row England kicked out on the full before Farrell missed his third kick at goal in a little over an hour (to castigate him would require a certain meteorological ignorance).

For a long while the traditional pre-match shenanigans were all the crowd had to talk about, with Scotland standing for the brass band preamble in full tracksuit tops and trousers while England, in shorts, began to freeze, and broke off to jig about. They were not impressed.


The band honked and clattered out the Proclaimers' I'm Gonna Be - better known as I Would Walk 500 Miles - but not in a way that increased the tension. It was more country fair in the Borders than bloodcurdling prelude.

Ireland are England's biggest remaining test in this Championship. Only then will see whether this win in Edinburgh was a catharsis or a pause in their troubles. The way they corrected a bad start to the second half was encouraging. Equally, Scotland's loss of control in that same 40-minute spell will infuriate them and raise tough questions about where they are going with their idealism.

Back on dry land, England averted more than they achieved. They avoided the death of their Six Nations campaign, vindicated Jones, escaped having their boisterous pre-match chat thrown back at them and proved, above all, that when things start going wrong with England they are not doomed to keep going wrong. Revivals have to start somewhere.