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Last Updated: Friday, 24 February 2006, 09:09 GMT
Scots can upset England - Nicol
By Bryn Palmer

Former Scotland captain Andy Nicol celebrates victory over England in 2000
Victory over England six years ago was Nicol's finest hour
Former captain Andy Nicol believes Scotland have their best opportunity to beat England since he led the Scots to victory at Murrayfield in 2000.

"It is the first time for a while that Scotland have a reasonable chance of an upset," he told BBC Sport.

"It will be a wonderful occasion and Murrayfield will be bristling with passion from the players and fans.

"If Scotland get points on the board and are in touch with 20 minutes to go, the Murrayfield factor can kick in."

That was certainly present six years ago, when Nicol inspired a side that had lost all four of its matches that year to a memorable 19-13 win on a filthy Edinburgh Sunday afternoon.

"Every player has a game that defines his career in a Scotland jersey and that was mine," Nicol recalled.

"It was just so unexpected. England had played four, won four - we had no right to win that game.

MURRAYFIELD MEETINGS
2004: Scotland 13-35 England
2002: Scotland 3-29 England
2000: Scotland 19-13 England
1998: Scotland 20-34 England
1996: Scotland 9-18 England
1994: Scotland 14-15 England
1992: Scotland 7-25 England
1991: Scotland 6-9 Eng (WC)
1990: Scotland 13-7 England
"In 1990 (the previous occasion Scotland had beaten England) there was a level of expectation because Scotland were going for the Grand Slam as well, but in 2000 it was billed as a lost cause.

"It probably looked that way too when Lawrence Dalllaglio ran around me in the first few minutes!"

Dallaglio is one of seven England players on duty this Saturday - Mike Tindall, Ben Cohen, Matt Dawson, Simon Shaw, Martin Corry and Joe Worsley are the others - who were also involved in 2000.

Of the current Scotland side, only captain Jason White - who made his debut that day - and wing Chris Paterson remain of the men who harried England to distraction.

"One of our tactics was definitely to ruffle them up a bit and put their key players like Matt Dawson and Jonny Wilkinson off their stride," Nicol said.

Scotland will go into this game with lots of confidence
Andy Nicol
"(Scotland's then coach) Ian McGeechan set down a game plan to beat them and the players learnt it all week.

"That was the sense of satisfaction afterwards. We believed in it, we executed it and we gave ourselves the chance, and the atmosphere in the last 10 minutes was just amazing.

"People were incredulous. The euphoria and sense of satisfaction at the end was incredible."

Similar scenes in the intervening period were scarce until three weeks ago, when Six Nations favourites France were toppled on the opening weekend of this year's tournament.

"There was a lot of optimism going into the French game and after that victory and the performance in Cardiff after Scott Murray's red card, Scotland will go into this game with lots of confidence," Nicol added.

"But they are fully aware they are up against a very good side who have been very efficient in their victories so far.

"What Scotland have to do is get parity up front. They are not going to dominate with the weight differential between the packs but they have to be able to get on the front foot.

"Their technique will have to be spot on in the scrum and at the rucks, where they have to be technically very accurate with their clean-outs.

"Quick ball is manna from heaven in international rugby and that is what Scotland had against France. If they can do that again it should be really, really exciting."


Andy will be talking to current Scotland scrum-half Mike Blair on Sport on Five's Six Nations Rugby Special programme tonight, Friday, 24 February, from 2100-2200




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