Hodge's Calcutta Cup memories

Hodge's Calcutta Cup memories

​Back in 2000, Britney Spears was top of the charts, Gladiator was the highest grossing movie of the year and some of the current Edinburgh Rugby squad were still in nappies.

However, in the April of that year, Attack Coach Duncan Hodge was Scotland’s very own version of Gladiator as he instantly became the talk of the town, scoring all 19 points to help Scotland defeat England in one of the most famous Calcutta Cup wins in Scottish Rugby history.

The England team that headed north for the final match of the inaugural Six Nations looking to win a Grand Slam featured the likes of Jason Leonard, Richard Hill, Lawrence Dallaglio, captain Matt Dawson and Jonny Wilkinson.

They had won their four previous games and Scotland had lost their four, but a try, four penalties and a conversion by Hodge, then a 25-year-old stand-off, saw Ian McGeechan’s claim the win, and sent the Auld Enemy hame tae think again.

“It is funny to think how young some of the guys I am coaching now at Edinburgh were then, indeed guys coming through the FOSROC Scottish Rugby Academy might not even have been born.

“I’ll just have to get the video out and show them it if anyone still has a video player! I think Stevie Lawrie [Edinburgh Assistant Forwards Coach] was in the crowd with his under-16 team mates,” Hodge joked.

“I can’t believe it is 20 years ago, but what a day it was and memories that will last a lifetime.

“We had not won a game in the lead up, but in round four we had played pretty well in Wales and lost out just 26-18.

“Although it was not a win it gave the group confidence while a number of the guys had played as we had won the last Five Nations in 1999, so we knew that we hadn’t become a bad team overnight.

“The week in the lead up to the game went well and on the morning of the game there was a calm determination amongst the boys.

“If you can’t get up for a match with England as a Scotsman then there is something wrong and although their team was full of big names we knew we had it in us.

“The crowd was amazing and when I scored my try I think I got a bit carried away because rather than go through my usual routine I took the conversion rather quickly, but thankfully for me it went over!

“I also kicked four penalties which was nice and for me to be in direct opposition to someone like Jonny Wilkinson, who was the world’s best 10 at the time, was amazing.

“Still now two decades on people stop me in the street and mention that game, it has kind of followed me around, but I am not complaining.

“As a sportsman or women there are certain moments you will always remember and that is one for me for sure.

“Everyone put in a shift and when the final whistle went it was amazing.”

Now 45 and looking ahead to this Saturday’s mouth-watering clash at BT Murrayfield between the two nations in the showpiece event, Hodge believes the current crop of players have it in them to beat England and keep the Calcutta Cup in the Scottish capital.

“Make no mistake about it, England are a very good team just now, but they never find it easy when they come to Murrayfield and I am sure they won’t get an easy ride this time either,” he said.

“What they are good at is taking advantage and really turning pressure into points if they get on the front foot, so Scotland can’t afford to have a slow start.

“In fact, they need the opposite and if they can get off to a quick start and rattle England like we did way back in 2000 then they definitely have a chance.

“There are quality players throughout the squad and now is the time for guys like Ali Price, George Horne, Adam Hastings and Blair Kinghorn to really stand up and make a name for themselves.”

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