sport news JOE MARLER: My top five greatest Scotsmen (including the REAL Gladiator ref) - ... trends now

sport news JOE MARLER: My top five greatest Scotsmen (including the REAL Gladiator ref) - ... trends now
sport news JOE MARLER: My top five greatest Scotsmen (including the REAL Gladiator ref) - ... trends now

sport news JOE MARLER: My top five greatest Scotsmen (including the REAL Gladiator ref) - ... trends now

I saw a graphic on Instagram recently showing which country has held the Calcutta Cup over the past 20 years. It used to be all roses with the odd thistle, like a beautifully kept garden that reflected England's dominance. Now the tides have turned and it's all thistles with the odd rose.

Scotland have had our number recently. It's become an incredibly hostile rivalry and I love it. The niggle goes back to the night in 2018 when Ryan Wilson picked on George Ford in the tunnel. Unfortunately, I was plodding back with a belly full of cheese toastie so I was nowhere near to intervene when Wilson started dishing it out in his thick Scottish-Surrey accent.

We had been flogged in the build-up to that match. Eddie Jones had organised a fallow-week training match against Georgia and they absolutely drilled us. Wayne Barnes was in to referee it, and when he awarded Georgia a scrum five-metres from our own posts he moved it to the side because he was worried we'd be sent hurtling back into two metal poles. We didn't give ourselves the best chance and that was the beginning of a rough seven-year run.

Scotland have got stronger and stronger. On our last visit to Murrayfield, in 2022, Finn Russell put a crossfield kick on Luke Cowan-Dickie in the corner and we were all thinking, 'Dickie, what are you doing there?' Dickie was yellow carded and then we had a lineout with no hooker, which we hadn't prepared for. 

We were all in a huddle and it was, 'Right, who's going to throw the ball in then?' No one wanted to make eye contact so I went, 'For Christ's take, just give me the ball'. They did a dummy that bamboozled me and I lobbed the worst throw at Alex Dombrandt and we lost the match.

Mail Sport columnist - and England international - Joe Marler looks ahead to this weekend's Six Nations clash against Scotland, with his country two wins in two so far in the competition

Mail Sport columnist - and England international - Joe Marler looks ahead to this weekend's Six Nations clash against Scotland, with his country two wins in two so far in the competition

Marler and his England teammates suffered a 20-17 defeat to Scotland at Murrayfield in 2022

Marler and his England teammates suffered a 20-17 defeat to Scotland at Murrayfield in 2022

He claims the side's levels of preparation are completely different now under Steve Borthwick

He claims the side's levels of preparation are completely different now under Steve Borthwick

There's no way that would happen now because the preparation levels are completely different under Steve Borthwick. Every single scenario is covered, which should allow us to show the best of ourselves. We've had a nice little boost with Manu Tuilagi, Ollie Lawrence, Luke Cowan-Dickie and George Martin coming back because they're big hitters who give you confidence in a fixture like this. 

We're expecting more of that hostility on Saturday and we can either run from it or run towards it. If we run away from it, like we have at times, especially up in Murrayfield, then we'll get our pants pulled down and they'll do a job on us.

But irrespective of the hostility, there are a lot of Scottish people who I really like. Here are my top five….

ALLY McCOIST

A Question of Sport was unbelievable in the era with Ally McCoist, Sue Barker, John Parrot, Phil Tufnell and Matt Dawson. I went on the newer show with my mate Ugo Monye. It was like a dream because I watched it every Friday night growing up. It was a great experience, so I don't want to bash it too hard, but it lost a bit of its magic after Ally left. 

Unfortunately, it's been taken off air now because I don't think it ever recovered from the wholesale changes to its cast. Ally's an unbelievable football commentator and I love listening to him on TalkSport, so he's my favourite Scotsman of them all. He likes his rugby, too.

Former Scottish international football Ally McCoist, the ex-Question of Sport team captain, can regularly be found on Premier League commentary duties for TNT or on talkSPORT

Former Scottish international football Ally McCoist, the ex-Question of Sport team captain,

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