Grant Gilchrist: Big recent away wins give Scotland belief ahead of Cardiff test

Jonny Gray and Grant Gilchrist hold Calcutta Cup after beating England in 2022 Six Nations Grant Gilchrist (right) is relishing the trip to Cardiff (Jane Barlow/PA)

Grant Gilchrist believes Scotland can take heart from last year’s historic wins away to England and France as they bid to end a 20-year wait for victory in Cardiff.

Gregor Townsend’s side enjoyed their first triumph at Twickenham since 1983 a year ago and then, in March, savoured a first success in Paris since 1999.

Although they beat Wales in Llanelli in 2020, behind closed doors, the Scots have not won at the Principality Stadium since 2002.

“The big one down at Twickenham, and then over in Paris, albeit behind closed doors, it’s good that this squad have knocked them off,” Edinburgh lock Gilchrist said. “We’ve got the belief now that we can go to away venues and come away with a result.

“This weekend is another big one. It’s 20 years. If we want to do something special we’re going to have to be at our very best this weekend. This history is there for a reason and it’s going to be a very difficult game.”

Wales were beaten 29-7 away to Ireland on Saturday, while Scotland started on a high by defeating England 20-17. Gilchrist dismisses any notion that the Scots are hot favourites.

“We’re under no illusions,” he said. “They’ll be bitterly disappointed about how they played at the weekend but they’ll be a different team this weekend.

“We know the strengths of their players, we know them well and we’ve struggled against them in the past so we have respect for them and know the size of the challenge.”

Asked why the Scots – who lost 34-7 on their last trip to the Principality in 2018 – traditionally struggle in the Welsh capital, Gilchrist said: “Our record there speaks for itself, doesn’t it? It’s a hard place to go.

“I think we’ve maybe lost the physical side of the game. We’ve gone down there and tried to play expansive rugby without earning the right.

“I think the Welsh teams in the past, when they’ve got the better of us they’ve been more physical than us. And that’s the challenge we’ve got this weekend. We’ve got to be more physical than a pumped-up Wales team that are playing in front of their home crowd and who are desperate to make amends for a poor result in the first round.

“That’s a great challenge for us because if we have aspirations in this tournament we’ve got to raise our game, game on game, and be better than we were at the weekend because when we reviewed the game, yes, we were delighted with the result but there were aspects of that performance that we think could be a hell of a lot better


“That’s obviously exciting but we need to do the work on the training pitch to get it out there. We’ll have to be better this weekend if we want to win.

“It’s an environment where as players we’re really excited to play in. To play in front of that crowd and that environment, it’s why you play the game.

“We want to make sure it doesn’t get on top of us. We’ve got to expect the Welsh team to come flying out the blocks, with the crowd behind them with all the passion, and we’ve got to match that. That’s the challenge for us. We’ve got to be at our most physical on Saturday if we are to come away with a win.”

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