Sunday’s match against Ireland at Murrayfield is a historic occasion because for the first time in the history of the fixtures between the two nations, the Irish have the chance to go ahead in the ‘winningmore’ stakes.

At present the stats show that since 1877, Scotland and Ireland have played each other 138 times, but one of those matches – Ireland v Scotland at Ormeau Cricket Ground in Belfast on March 7, 1885 – was abandoned after 20 minutes due to bad weather with the scores level and the result was voided with Scotland winning the replay in Edinburgh a month later. In the 137 matches that count, therefore, Scotland and Ireland have each won 66 times with five draws.

That means on Sunday that Ireland can make history and go in front of Scotland in terms of matches won for the first time.

Drawing this startling fact to my attention, Irish blogger richardb - author of A Flaneur's Guide to Paris The Left Bank which you can find at – wrote to me to say that the only other time Ireland had a chance to achieve this feat was when they lined up against Scotland on February 19, 1877, at the Ormeau Cricket Ground in Belfast, their first encounter. That day Ireland lost 6-0 and started out on a long and winding road of playing catch-up. By 1893, for example, Ireland only had 1 victory to Scotland’s 14. By 1925 Ireland were at 10 wins against Scotland’s 30, and on it goes.

Richardb added: “And so next Sunday is a once-in-a-century opportunity not to be missed, as any Irish supporter who suffered through the long, barren spells of the late 1980s and 1990s can testify. It is easy to forget, for example, that over a total of 15 matches played between 1986 and 1999 Ireland only beat Scotland once. For Irish fans that fallow period was particularly challenging – some would say existential.”

Richardb dates the transformation in Ireland’s fortunes to 2000 and the first Six Nations tournament when Ireland beat Scotland for the first time in 13 years. I concur with his view, and you can’t argue with the fact that since 2000, Ireland have since won two Grand Slams in 2009 and 2018, and have won the Six Nations four times and notched five Triple Crowns. They have also beaten New Zealand in 2016 and 2018, a feat never yet achieved by Scotland, and were rated No 1 in the world by the official IRB rankings heading into the 2019 World Cup.

In my opinion, two major policy decisions helped the IRFU steer the men in green to the halcyon period they have enjoyed. When professionalism came into the game in 1995 the IRFU used the existing provincial structure to create four professional teams, and have been rewarded with that foresight by several European Cup wins.

More importantly, to my mind, was the creation of the High Performance Select Group in 2007. The first cohort included the great Jamie Heaslip, plus Tommy Bowe and Luke Fitzgerald, who so sadly had to retire in 2016 after a neck injury. While systems have changed, that commitment to bringing on young talent has served Ireland well, while they have been fortunate to discover world-beating players such as Lions’ captains Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell, Ronan O’Gara and Rob Kearney.

The present squad may not possess that sort of talent but they are still a hugely formidable outfit with ‘imports’ that have included CJ Stander -set to win his 50th cap on Sunday – James Lowe and Bundee Aki, and the chance to make a bit of history at Murrayfield will be an additional spur to them.

The form book favours the visitors, Ireland having lost just three of their last 19 games against Scotland in the Six Nations, with each of those defeats coming by a margin of five points or fewer. Yet they have slipped from No. 1 in the world to No. 7, just one position ahead of Scotland and they are not in the form of two years ago when they beat Scotland at Murrayfield and then repeated the dose in the World Cup. Head coach Andy Farrell seems to be building a team and any XV which features Stander and Jonny Sexton is a force to be reckoned with Scotland have improved since last year, and were very unlucky to lose to Wales. Which brings me to my final point – is there any chance of getting a match in which everyone avoids a red card?

The players themselves must take responsibility for their own discipline. After all, if you do not commit an offence, you can’t get penalised, and if you do not hit people on the head with your shoulders you can’t be sent off.

If Scotland can avoid yellow and red cards, they have a good chance of beating Ireland and staying one ahead of their old rivals.