Scotland v England
Fears grow of Murrayfield 'farce'
ESPN Staff
February 5, 2014
The <I>Daily Mail</I> on the Murrayfield pitch, February 4, 2014
The Daily Mail on the attack yesterday © Daily Mail

Former Scotland and British Lions star Peter Wright has told the Daily Mail the Calcutta Cup match could become farcical if the worst predictions about the state of the Murrayfield pitch turn out to be true.

Although the SRU yesterday announced it would be investing in a new hybrid surface over the summer, that will not help the current situation. With rain forecast in Edinburgh this weekend to add to the groundsman's problems, Wright said the easily cut-up surface could become a quagmire.

"I hope I'm wrong but I do have concerns that the state of the pitch will have a big influence over who wins the match," he told the newspaper. "Just say the score is tight with 10 minutes left and the pitch has cut up so badly it's impossible to keep your feet in the scrum.

"Such an important game could then be decided by a player losing his footing at the set-piece and giving away a penalty. That shouldn't be the way a team wins a Six Nations match."

He said the choice of stud would be vital, especially for the forwards. "If they pick a stud that's too small that could lessen their grip; if they chose one that's too big their foot could stick in the dirt and cause injury.

"If a player loses his footing once, he'll be conscious of it happening again and that could lead to a bit of a farce with players not wanting to try anything too fancy.

"My advice to the forwards would be to not to move their foot much in the scrum, make sure the scrum is stable and keep things steady. The backs also have to watch when they side-step and not get their foot stuck in a divot. I'm concerned that a heavy, cut-up pitch will lead to not much decent rugby being played which would be a shame."

Former England lock Ben Kay was of a similar mind. He said England's pack prefer a straight pushing contest "but if you can't get traction because the pitch is cutting up, you have a problem. If you think of England's defeats at Murrayfield they were often on wet, muddy pitches.

"Power runners don't have the contact with the ground to break through and the players with skill don't have the same confidence underfoot. England won't use it as an excuse but they would prefer a fast, firm track."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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