THERE is nothing quite like a Scotland-England sporting clash, a meeting with the Auld Enemy, at national or club level, to whet the appetite. Those south of Hadrian’s Wall already hold the advantage, in rugby terms, this season after Saracens win at Scotstoun over Glasgow Warriors.

Over the next two weeks however, Scottish rugby – in the shape of Edinburgh – have a chance to put a marker down when they face Newcastle Falcons in a Champions Cup double-header, starting at Murrayfield on Friday.

For former Scotland flanker Ally Hogg, a mainstay of the Falcons back row for almost a decade, there are parallels between both clubs, resurgent in the last couple of seasons, which means these ties will have real meaning in the progression of both clubs, both in European terms and for the future.

“I don’t think anyone predicted, when the European draw was made, and when the French clubs were factored in, that Newcastle and Edinburgh would be sitting in the group, first and second – you’d have got good odds on that,” said the 48-times capped former international forward, who now works with Barclays Wealth Management.

“It means there is an angle to these back-to-back games that no-one really foresaw; I think most people would have said it was about who might be third, who might be fourth, and that you’d perhaps be trying to win these games to stay in contention, not stay ahead. But some great results by both clubs, especially Newcastle, has really set up these forthcoming games.

”I hope both Edinburgh and Newcastle have got the ‘A teams’ available to them for these matches. I think they are pretty well matched, so it will be interesting to see if one or other does have an edge, not just because of home advantage,” said Hogg, who will provide summary for Radio 5 Live during the second leg at Kingston Park.

“Edinburgh have turned things around under Richard Cockerill. They’ve recruited well, are pretty formidable up front and with some talented backs. But they don’t have anything Newcastle don’t possess.”

If Edinburgh have been transformed under Cockerill, the rejuvenation of Newcastle Falcons over the last two years is arguably more impressive. And for Hogg, who retired at the end of last season, and played his part in the re-emergence of the former English champions, Falcons have a great opportunity to revisit past triumphs.

“It is always hard at any club when the expectation levels of some are based on what went before,” said Hogg, who faced those issues himself after his move south from Edinburgh in 2010.

“A lot of clubs don’t have the legacy and history that Newcastle Falcons had a while back, champions of England and reaching and winning Cup finals during Sir John Hall’s time, when the club could literally go out and recruit the best players available. It’s always going to be tough when you are compared to the past, particularly when the game and the regulations changed so dramatically. It’s like trying to compare apples to pears – although some will always try.”

For Hogg, a combination of factors has seen Newcastle come good again.

“The was a bit more investment in the squad, but Newcastle had always enjoyed progression through the youth ranks but over a few years. They had a group that matured – having stayed with the club – in to a very effective group, now in their mid-to late 20s.

“Amongst that group you are looking at Mark Wilson, who was voted England’s Player of the Series for the Autumn Tests, starting in all four matches; Will Welsh, the Falcons youngest-ever captain since he was 22; Joel Hodgson, who went away, then came back again a bit more mature and was being picked ahead of Toby Flood on merit until he was injured last week; Chris Harris, Sean Robinson, George McGuigan was another who had a season at Leicester Tigers before coming back to Newcastle.

“And once you have that core group, players who know each other and have grown up together over a few years, you then start dropping in some bigger names and match winners like Niki Goneva, Sinoti Sinoti, Floody [ex-England stand-off Toby Flood] as well, who brought in ability and experience, and that has moved the Falcons on.

“Of course, player and squad development is tied in to what the vision and direction given to the club by Dean Richards, as director of rugby, who has assisted with the business structure as well, and all of those factors coming together saw a progression in the team; we finished 11th a few times, then eighth and last season, fourth in the table. That meant qualification for the Champions Cup, and a Premiership semi-final. Falcons also reached the European Challenge Cup semi-finals, so this is the best they’ve been placed for some time.”

A glance at the Premiership league table might not suggest that. But Ally believes that to be a minor blip, and says there are more positive aspects to concentrate on.

“They beat Bath last weekend, but were pushed bottom again after Sale won on Saturday. What I’d say is two wins and you’d be mid-table this season, it is so tight. What we had last year was really good strength in depth, so if we took any injuries, we had an equivalent player to step in, maybe more so than this season.

“But of course, the league placing and any injury issues completely belies being unbeaten in the Premiership Cup pool matches, and, two outstanding performances in Europe, defeating Montpellier at Kingston Park, then that single-point win over in Toulon.

“Newcastle have put themselves in an amazing position, and makes the Edinburgh games so important.”