Six Nations: Scotland loss in Italy would send them to 'depths of despair'

By Andy BurkeBBC Scotland in Rome
Gregor Townsend
Gregor Townsend's side have failed to score a try in their opening two Six Nations games

The credibility of Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend rests on the "must-win" Six Nations game in Italy, says former scrum-half Andy Nicol.

Scotland were beaten narrowly by Ireland and England in their opening two Six Nations games after a disappointing World Cup campaign.

Nicol believes a loss in Rome would send them into the "depths of despair".

"It's a must-win in every sense, for the players and fans, but definitely for Gregor Townsend," he said.

"Wins are what give you credibility. In his first year he had three, which was on the back of Vern Cotter finishing his reign with three. That was the first time Scotland had done that back-to-back.

"The Six Nations is a tough competition, but this is the game that Scotland can target and say 'if we play well, we win'. Without a win tomorrow, it takes you into the depths of despair.

"The players need to get a win and I think they will."

Scotland are fifth in the table, having failed to score a try in their opening two games, with bonus points keeping them ahead of opponents Italy.

Nicol, who won 23 caps for Scotland, believes the key to success in Rome is for Townsend's side to play without fear of losing.

"So many times we've come to Rome and just tried to avoid losing because of the pressure," he said. "Unfortunately this game is exactly as it has been over many years - the wooden spoon decider.

"We have to try and eradicate that and just go out and play. Scotland need to come out and set the tempo.

"If we do that, with the attacking players we've got, I think we can win, and win quite well."

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