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Ross Ford: Scotland players must relish challenge of beating England

Ross Ford has told his Scotland team-mates they should not fear another Calcutta Cup defeat to England - but instead relish the chance to rewrite the history books.

The Edinburgh hooker and front-row colleague Al Dickinson are the only men in the Dark Blues' line-up for Saturday's RBS 6 Nations opener who have tasted victory against the Auld Enemy.

In the eight years since that win at a rain-soaked Murrayfield, the best the Scots have managed was a 15-15 draw back in 2010.

Since then it has been defeat after defeat, and Ford knows there is a whole generation of Scotland players who have never sampled the delight of beating their nextdoor neighbours.

But after impressing at last year's World Cup, he has now urged his current cohorts to grasp the opportunity to end that run of woe when they face Eddie Jones' new look Red Rose outfit this weekend.

Asked if some of his team-mates sh ould be worried by the prospect of going their whole career without managing a victory over England, Ford - who also claimed a Calcutta Cup victory in 2006 - s aid: " I don't think we should see it as a scary thing. It should be a challenge that the boys enjoy.

"And it shouldn't just be about winning one or two of them - we should be looking to do it consistently. We should be aiming to get regular victories against a lot of nations, not just England.

"The consistency and performance is key to doing that but this group of boys has the talent to do it, to become a team Scotland can be proud of."

The list of alarming statistics detailing Scotland's recent decline has been regularly regurgitated this week.

It is 17 years since they managed to claim a Championship triumph, 10 since their last opening-day win. While they mustered those two successive home victories over England which Ford played in, they were sealed only thanks to the efforts of goal-kickers Dan Parks and Chris Paterson.

In fact, the last time they even scored a try on home soil was in 2004.

But both Ford and the Scots' resource coach Nathan Hines - who also played in the 2006 and 2008 wins - see little point in looking to the past.

Ford - who has managed just eight Six Nations wins from 45 tournament appearances - said: "In the past, we've obviously not been at our best to win those games.

"But I think this group of players have developed into a really good squad. We have a lot of strength as well as exciting players coming through.

"Going forward we should be confident and excited in our ability."

And former lock Hines added: "Statistics are about the past. If we are just going on statistics, we may as well not play tomorrow. We are not worrying about the past, we are just worrying about what is happening now.

"It doesn't matter how much history has gone before, it doesn't make any difference to us.

"We are not playing history, we are playing England.

"So the stats don't mean much really. We are just trying to build on what happened at the World Cup. We have sorted things out that needed to be done.

"I don't think it matters too much that we haven't beaten them for a couple of years. I think we are in a good place as a squad and we are coming together nicely.

"The past doesn't really matter as long as we know what we are trying to achieve. It is more what we can control that are the things we are concentrating on."

The pre-match focus on England has centred on the appointment of new skipper Dylan Hartley and his chequered disciplinary record.

Ford will be the man who goes head to head with him in Edinburgh, but he insists his side have no plans to target the visiting skipper for provocation.

"He's a talented player," Ford said. "You can see from the way he plays he's always on the front foot and that's why they picked him.

"He's very abrasive, a good competitor. I'm looking forward to going up against him.

"Can we exploit his temperament ? No you can't focus on individuals like that. You focus as units and groups. For us in the pack, it's about getting on top and being physical with them.

"We don't need to get sidetracked with mind-games or stuff like that."


From Belfast Telegraph