The Scots have high hopes of making a real impact at this year’s tournament but the Edinburgh back-rower knows any thoughts of picking up silverware at the end of it will count for little if they fall flat in this weekend’s eagerly-awaited Calcutta Cup showdown.
“Primarily, we need a fast start,” said Ritchie. “We can’t look any further than that first game against England, and I know that’s a cliche, but it really is the truth. That puts us on the front foot for the whole tournament if we get a good result on Saturday, so for us it’s about starting well.”
Ritchie played in last year’s 11-6 victory over England at Twickenham but he acknowledges much has changed since that match.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “It’s always a good game to get off the mark with. Looking back, last year was a massive result for us but we want to back it up this year.
“I think it can help with our mindset knowing that we beat them last year but they’re probably a little bit different and we’re a little bit different.
“365 days is a long time – there’s been a lot of rugby between then and now. It’s a fresh start for us and them, and we’re looking forward to it.
“These are the games you dream of as a kid growing up. These are the ones you want to go to when you’re a spectator, and when you play the game these are the ones you want to be involved in.
“For a Scottish player, there is no bigger stage than a full Murrayfield against England. It’s a dream come true and we want to do that credit. For us, it’s about putting our best game out there.”
The Scots go into the tournament buoyed by victories over world heavyweights England, France and Australia within the past year.
“We’ve got a lot of belief in ourselves,” said Ritchie. “We know how hard we work, we know what we do during the week, we know how good the players are in our group so, yeah, there is a lot of belief there.
“For us, it’s about putting our best foot forward and trying to put together our best game and I think that will compete with most teams.”