Six Nations 2016: Scotland's biggest game ever, says Andy Nicol

By Phil GoodladBBC Scotland in Rome
Scotland's Ryan Wilson against Italy
Scotland beat Italy 48-7 in a World Cup warm-up last year
Six Nations: Italy v Scotland
Date: Saturday, 27 February Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome Kick-off: 14:25 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Scotland & Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary

Scotland's match with Italy this weekend might be the most important in the country's history, according to former national captain Andy Nicol.

The Scots are on their worst run of Six Nations defeats for over 60 years - a nine-game losing streak.

"I remember saying that the quarter-final against Australia at the World Cup was the biggest in our history," said Nicol.

"That game pales into insignificance now compared to this."

Scotland last won a Six Nations game two years ago and Nicol believes ending that dismal run is vital as their credibility as a top-tier rugby nation is being called into question.

"It's just unthinkable for Scotland to go 10 games in the Six Nations without winning," said Nicol.

"That's why this is one of the biggest games ever."

This weekend's live TV and radio coverage
Fri, 26 Feb (20:05 GMT)Wales v FranceBBC One & Radio 5 live
Sat, 27 Feb (14:25 GMT)Italy v ScotlandITV & 5 live sports extra
Sat, 27 Feb (16:50 GMT)England v IrelandITV & Radio 5 live
Six Nations coverage on the BBC

Scotland's last victory in the Six Nations came in 2014, when Duncan Weir scored a last-minute drop goal in Rome to beat Italy 21-20.

Last season, Vern Cotter suffered a whitewash of defeats in his first campaign as head coach.

It was the second time in four seasons that Scotland had gone without a win in the tournament.

Scotland coach Vern Cotter talks to the media
Scotland coach Vern Cotter is facing a second whitewash in the Six Nations

Nicol, who played 23 times for Scotland, feels the country has to be realistic about where the team currently sits in world rugby.

"There was uproar last week when Sir Clive Woodward said England had played the second division up to now in the championship by playing Scotland and Italy," he said.

"But the stats back that up. Nine games without a win is certainly not first division. This is all about credibility in the Six Nations."

However Nicol believes Scotland can still enjoy a good championship, starting with a win on Saturday before facing France at Murrayfield then Ireland in Dublin.

Six Nations table

The man who lifted the Calcutta Cup in 2000 believes the country has a "really good squad", but shudders at the prospect of a second successive campaign without a win.

"We've always struggled in the Six Nations," Nicol suggested. "People look back with rose-tinted spectacles and talk about the good old days.

"Well I played in the good old days and they weren't that good.

PREVIEW & KEY STATS: Italy v Scotland

"We didn't win that many games, but we certainly didn't go nine games without a win.

"It doesn't feel like that because there have been highs in the autumn Tests and the World Cup, but if we don't win in Rome, this could be back-to-back whitewashes and that is a terrible thought."

Six Nations Memories: Andy Nicol

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