Alasdair Dickinson aims to end Scotland’s miserable run against England

Alasdair Dickinson prepares to pass in training. The prop was in the last Scotland team to beat England at Murrayfield in 2008.. Picture: SNS

Alasdair Dickinson prepares to pass in training. The prop was in the last Scotland team to beat England at Murrayfield in 2008.. Picture: SNS

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When Alasdair Dickinson came off the bench as a young prop to earn his second cap in the 15-9 win over England at Murrayfield in 2008 he could be forgiven for thinking this would be a regular treat.

It was Scotland’s second successive home victory over the auld enemy and they seemed to be finally getting to grips with a wretched record which had seen only one win over their oldest rivals, in 2000, since the 1990 Grand Slam.

However, Dickinson missed the drawn match in 2010 and since then has experienced the bitter taste of defeat in his five subsequent encounters with England.

It is something the Edinburgh loosehead is eager to put right as he prepares to earn his 53rd cap on Saturday.

“Yes, we won in 2008 but, since then, it has been pretty poor,” admitted the 32-year-old Dundonian. “I was fairly young and it was great to be part of it. It made me realise how great the Calcutta Cup is. To play here against England was huge.

“Every game has got its own certain aura but to play England – the auld enemy – at Murrayfield is a massive occasion. I am looking forward to it, as is everybody.

“We don’t have a great track record over the last few years but we have just to go out there and do the business.”

Dickinson accepts that Scotland’s performances at the World Cup have raised expectations but he is comfortable with that situation.

“The public expect more from us and rightly so,” he said. “We have not performed well enough in the last few Six Nations.

“One great thing about the World Cup is that the support really got behind the team. We played with vision, were exciting to watch and stirred up the positivity within the Scottish public.

“There will be expectation but we can’t do any worse than last year. We have to set ourselves high standards and we have. As players we want to do the nation justice. We can’t wait to get started.

“The last Six Nations was frustrating. You could see what we were trying to do. Apart from Ireland, our average loss was about four points. There is that fine line in international rugby. Last year was a disappointing, frustrating campaign but that had the knock-on effect of us performing well at the World Cup.”

The front-row battle is set to be key on Saturday as new coach Eddie Jones brings his men north intent on re-establishing the traditional values of a domineering England pack. In the World Cup, the English were stunned when their erstwhile “bunnies”, the Wallaby pack, turned the tables on them at Twickenham and turfed them out of their home tournament.

A couple of weeks later, it is generally agreed that Scotland did a number on the Aussie scrum, but Dickinson is not reading too much into that.

“It is something completely new,” said the former Gloucester man. “England were a bit low on confidence, maybe, in the World Cup.

“I wasn’t in their camp. Sometimes you can’t worry too much about the opposition. You just do your job well and you will be fine.

“We will go in confident but not arrogant. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. The English guys are going to be strong. They have a great talented pool of players and they will come at us scrum time. They have a point to prove and a wounded animal is pretty dangerous. They are going to come at us all guns blazing and we have to be able to weather that.

“They have got high motivation no matter what – a new coach, the country expects a lot from them and they will be desperate to prove themselves after a poor World Cup, but we will also be desperate to do ourselves justice and do the country proud. It is going to be a massive clash. I’m looking forward to it.”

Jones’s attempts to install the Scots as favourites is not something that fazes Dickinson.

He said: “I don’t read or listen to any rugby press. I don’t know what has been said. If you want to be the best at something then you have to be able to handle the pressure of expectation and that is something we have to deal with.”

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