|Venue: Twickenham Date: Saturday, 6 February Kick-off: 16:45 GMT|
|Protection: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 Reside and BBC Radio Scotland; Reside textual content and video highlights on the BBC Sport web site.|
Two males, two matches, two moments.
The primary, is available in Fukuroi.
Scotland are about to tackle Russia in a pool recreation they know they are going to win. Finn Russell picks up three balls, one in his left hand, a second in his proper, one other jammed between.
He drops the third ball onto his left instep, flicks it up, and strides onto the pitch, juggling the balls between his palms like a circus performer.
The second is available in Yokohama.
TJ Perenara utters the opening phrases of the haka. His All Blacks stamp and slap. And on the stadium large display, on televisions across the globe, Owen Farrell’s face seems.
The England captain’s eyes are locked on the opposition. And, whereas New Zealand difficulty their problem, Farrell stares again with a lop-sided smirk.
The oldest rivalry in Check rugby at all times wants new contrasts. A contemporary approach to spin the yarn.
On Saturday, a lot will centre on Russell and Farrell.
The entertainer in opposition to the terminator. The mischief-maker in opposition to the commander-in-chief. The sport-breaker in opposition to the results-grinder.
However each males, and their variations, are extra complicated than that.
Scotland and Glasgow’s Ryan Wilson remembers when a 21-year-old Russell first turned up at Warriors.
“He was very skinny,” he tells BBC Sport. “He nonetheless is, though I believe he might need put some extra intestine on with the baguettes in Paris.”
What was obvious to Wilson then, has grow to be apparent to all since he left Glasgow for Racing 92 two and half seasons in the past.
“He has at all times been in a position to do particular issues on a rugby pitch,” mentioned Wilson.
“The way in which he brings individuals into the sport and finds area is particular.”
Farrell has seen Russell’s sleight-of-hand magic up shut.
In Scotland’s 2018 Calcutta Cup win, Russell arrange a strive with an audacious looping go extra exactly plotted than most area missions.
In 2019’s pulsating draw at Twickenham, Russell revived a flat-lining Scotland, nabbing an audacious interception off Farrell for a 50m rating en route.
In Racing’s colors, his deft chip broke Saracens’ Champions Cup goals in September. He pulled the strings to perfection within the Barbarians win over England in 2018.
Even these down the pecking order are followers.
“He is a step forward,” mentioned Duncan Weir, who has discovered Russell in his means at each Glasgow and Scotland at totally different factors of his profession, on BBC Scotland’s Rugby podcast.
“He sees the area so early and can even execute talent underneath a lot stress.
“I can depart my ego on the door and say he is positively the appropriate man to drive the group to victories.”
Russell’s bucking a development. Check rugby is all percentages and place for the time being.
Victories are usually floor out by way of collective attrition fairly particular person inspiration.
However, with a ahead pack unlikely to win an arm-wrestle, giving Russell free licence is probably the most pragmatic possibility for Scotland.
The likeliest path to a primary Twickenham win in 38 years is alongside the excessive wire.
Off the pitch Russell’s playful streak marks him out amid the trendy recreation’s po-faced professionalism.
As a young person, he performed together with his hair dyed in a leopard print. His pre-Check meal was a membership sandwich and might of Irn-Bru. On the touchlines, he has busted out dance strikes. Publish-match, he definitely has.
“The 2 locations he is most at residence are on the rugby pitch and the dance ground,” added Wilson.
“He is not on the entrance of a queue for an evening out, however enjoys himself when he will get on the market.
“You’ve got to have that stability the place you flip off from rugby. That is what Finn will get proper.
“He tries to faux that he does not care generally, places a present on for the boys, however he cares. He actually cares. In the event you go to his room, he’s at all times there doing his evaluation, learning the opposition on the laptop computer.”
Farrell has by no means given the impression he does not care. Rugby, league and union, has lengthy been the household enterprise. Owen made his Saracens debut at 17, changing his father Andy, a code-crossing legend.
Enterprise? For Russell, rugby is pleasure.
On the identical time Farrell was taking part in in Premiership finals, Russell, a 12 months youthful, was in a shed close to Stirling.
Russell spent three years there, chiselling out windowsills and hearth locations as a stonemason. He examine the 2011 World Cup within the paper on his lunch break. 4 years later he was taking part in in a single.
“He had finished a job, he was a bit totally different to the lads straight out of personal faculty,” mentioned Wilson.
“Lots of people think about him as this large, loud presence, however he’s all the way down to earth, does not give it the large one about what he can do.”
Farrell does not make such simple showreel fodder.
There have been chic moments. Typically at essential occasions.
A cut-out go by way of the attention of a needle for Jonny Might’s rating early in 2019’s win over Eire was one.
An extended-range bullet to ship Elliot Daly scampering spherical Alex Cuthbert in the 2017 heist on the Millennium Stadium was one other.
However Farrell’s affect comes extra from a lifetime’s dedication fairly than split-second genius.
His requirements are stratospheric. His dedication whole. His tolerance for something much less? Zero.
You see it in snippets.
His team-talks are brief sentences, lengthy pauses and bulge-eyed stares.
“Put yourselves ready as we speak to be brutal,” he mentioned earlier than beating Australia in Japan. “Punish them with good choices,” he mentioned earlier than the win over New Zealand.
You hear it in his team-mates’ phrases.
“A competitor,” mentioned winger Might this week. “He needs to compete each day, he drives requirements, he is a pacesetter, that just about sums it up.”
Most of all, you see it on the sector. Farrell’s focus over a place-kick, his urge for food for contact, the depth that may slip into reckless physicality.
Brad Barritt is aware of Farrell nicely. He joined Saracens a month after Farrell’s debut in 2008. The pair gained their first England caps collectively in opposition to Scotland in 2012.
“At the same time as a teen, Owen had a really clever head on his shoulders,” Barritt informed BBC Sport.
“There was at all times an urge for food to be taught, a drive and dedication.”
Farrell’s shaping of England in his picture got here from his personal little bit of opportunism.
“Anybody who performs at 10, must put their stamp on the group, to outline that place, the faster the higher,” Barritt added.
“After we made our debuts the entire squad had underneath 100 caps, it was fairly simple to place your stamp on a group as a result of there wasn’t a robust contingent of incumbents.”
How simply Farrell and Russell would rub alongside in the identical group is one other matter.
This summer season, they’re going to most likely must. Each are almost-certain Lions vacationers.
At Twickenham although, just one can be smiling, or smirking, post-match.