Six Nations: Will Carling wary of Scottish threat

Will Carling celebrates scoring against Scotland in 1997
Will Carling celebrates scoring against Scotland in 1997
Six Nations 2015: England v Scotland
Venue: Twickenham Date: 14 March, 2015 Kick-off: 17:00 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One, HD, Red Button, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Scotland, online, mobile, the BBC Sport app and Connected TV.

Former England captain Will Carling warns Stuart Lancaster's side "won't forget" a defeat by Scotland in Saturday's Calcutta Cup match.

Carling won 73 caps and skippered England to three Grand Slams and a World Cup final in a nine-year Test career between 1988 and 1997.

The centre was also at the helm as Scotland defeated England in the Five Nations Championship decider of 1990.

"If they lose to Scotland, they won't forget it," Carling told the BBC.

Handed the national captaincy aged just 22, the youngest Englishman to assume that mantle, Carling was a British and Irish Lions tourist under Scottish coach Sir Ian McGeechan in 1993.

He played 11 times against Scotland, losing just once, in the winner-takes-all encounter at Murrayfield 25 years ago, and drawing 12-12 in 1989.

Since Carling's heyday, however, and the sport's turning professional in 1995, the Scots have stagnated and regressed, while England have featured in two World Cup finals - lifting the Webb Ellis Cup in 2003 - and won four Six Nations Championships.

When asked if, given the respective fortunes of the sides, the rivalry burned as brightly today as then, he said: "I would like to think so - it certainly had quite an edge when I was playing.

"Scotland had great players back then. I think sadly Scotland had a slight dip in form which probably meant they haven't won as many games as they would like against the English.

In Vern Cotter, Scotland have a "shrewd coach", says Carling
In Vern Cotter, Scotland have a "shrewd coach", says Carling

"But I think they're starting to find some very good players, and I think they've got a very good coach and they're improving. I'm hoping a little bit more edge will come back into it.

"The Scots certainly, little bits that I've been reading, seem to be finding a bit more of an edge, which makes it interesting."

While disappointed for Alex Dunbar, who was sidelined for up to nine months this week with a knee injury, Carling believes Scotland are close to finding a potent formula along their backline.

"When I first saw (stand-off) Finn Russell playing, I thought, 'there's a boy who looks like a chorister, who's brilliant, he plays a great game'," he added.

"They've suddenly found some backs. They've always been good and competitive and attritional in the forwards, they've just lacked some midfield players. Despite what the results might say, it's been a lot closer, and in the next few years they will be far more competitive than they've been for a while."

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