Scotland dare to dream as Stuart Hogg and co. kick-off the RBS Six Nations this weekend against old rivals England at BT Murrayfield Stadium.
Every Scotland rugby fan can recite the bitter moments over decades past when they dared to hope their eternally-doomed team would defy the odds and challenge for the Six Nations, World Cup or just beat England, only to see catastrophe strike.
This year the Dark Blues followers are shedding the hardened layers of pessimism as the team – which has not beaten the Auld Enemy in eight attempts dating back to 2008 – heads into the 2016 Six Nations with a level of confidence built by an impressive IRB World Cup showing.
“Six Nations games are always special, but to get to play at home against England, there really isn’t anything better,” said an optimistic Hogg, who last tasted victory over his southern rivals in 2012 when Scotland ‘A’ defeated England ‘A’ 35-0 at Netherdale in Galashiels.
“These are the games every Scottish, and English player for that matter, really look forward to. They are the ones you dream of playing in as a young kid.
“It’s going to be on a world stage – everyone will be watching, and for us confidence is flowing.”
Supporters are still nursing their disappointment from last summer’s World Cup when the Scots were just 90 seconds away from booking a place in their first tournament semi-final.
Australia’s Bernard Foley stroked home a contentious penalty awarded by referee Craig Joubert that shattered the Dark Blues’ dreams.
Hogg and his Scotland teammates have an opportunity this weekend to erase that painful ending, prove that they are truly a side fans can get goosebumps over and that they are ready to launch themselves at England and the rest of the Six Nations.
“Coming off the back of that World Cup, we’ve got to be confident we can go out there and do a job this year,” said Hogg, adding: “What we achieved was good, but it’s in the past. We have to make sure we keep our progression moving forward, not back, and build on that World Cup momentum.
“England will be a hard test. They may have a new coach and other changes, but they will still bring a physical pack with a backline built with skill and speed.
“We know what we are capable of, so for us we need to believe in ourselves, not concentrate on what they are doing, and play the way we know we can. If we can do that then we can get the result we want.”
Hogg concluded: “I was handed an annoying stat the other day saying we haven’t won our opening Six Nations game in 10 years. The aim this weekend is to end that run.”