Scotland rivalry a family affair for England's Underhill
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England flanker Sam Underhill will need no reminding what is at stake when the Calcutta Cup is up for grabs at Murrayfield on Saturday thanks to his Scottish relatives.
Rugby's oldest international fixture is still the match Scotland want to win above all others as they look to get one over their more populous neighbours.
Underhill has Scottish family and they will be only too willing to let him know what has happened should England lose in Edinburgh this weekend.
"Every Test is a big occasion, but there's a big rivalry there," Underhill told reporters at Murrayfield on Friday.
The 23-year-old Bath back-row added: "From a personal point of view, I've got a Scottish grandmother, a Scottish brother-in-law, one of my other sister's boyfriends is Scottish.
"So I just turn my phone off before the game," he explained with a rueful grin.
As for his grandmother, who hails from the heartland of Scottish rugby, Underhill said: "She doesn't watch rugby, fortunately.
"I think she probably sends my Dad a snarky message -- she's his mother-in-law so that adds a little bit to it as well.
"She was from the Borders. I'll catch up with her in the week probably, depending on how the result goes!"
- 'Embrace the pressure' -
But, on a more serious note, the 17-times capped Underhill said: "It's good to have a bit of an edge to a game. Sports in general and rugby definitely, a few people have probably thought it's gone away from those rivalries and what underlies them.
"It brings a competitive edge and a pressure. It's going to be there anyway so it's either one of those things you embrace and acknowledge or ignore and I think it's much better to embrace it then pretend it's not there."
Underhill was making just his sixth Test appearance, as a replacement, when Scotland stunned England 25-13 at Murrayfield two years ago.
"It was one of my first caps and first experience here at Murrayfield," he said.
"It was probably my first insight into the emotion of the occasion and I was probably a bit naive to it before, getting booed off the bus and seeing the reaction of the Scotland players when they won, seeing the crowd and how much it means to everyone up here.
"You can't ignore it – especially when it's as loud as Murrayfield is. But, like I say, that's to be embraced as a player.
"You want to be under the most pressure you can be because that means you're playing at the highest level you can play."
This year's renewal of a series that started in 1871 has been given added spice by the fact that both sides lost their opening matches of this season's Six Nations.
World Cup finalists England were beaten 24-17 by France in Paris, with Scotland losing 19-12 to Ireland in Dublin.
Scotland hold the Calcutta Cup by virtue of a remarkable draw at Twickenham last year where they came from 31-0 behind in a match that ended all square at 38-38.
"We are incredibly hungry," said Underhill.
"In terms of last week especially, when you have a disappointing result there's nothing more that you want than another game.
"The fact that it just happens to be a Calcutta Cup is probably even better for us because there's more pressure and that's something you need to perform at your best," he added.
© 2020 AFP