Scotland v Tonga: Dickinson favours grass pitch

SCOTLAND prop Alasdair Dickinson does not believe the grass will be greener for international rugby if more Tests are played on artificial surfaces.
Scotland's Alasdair Dickinson. Picture: Ian RutherfordScotland's Alasdair Dickinson. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Scotland's Alasdair Dickinson. Picture: Ian Rutherford

The Dark Blues will face Tonga at Kilmarnock’s Rugby Park on Saturday in the first ever full international to be played on a plastic pitch.

Dickinson has no problem using the £500,000 3G turf on a one-off basis but the Edinburgh forward does not think it should be rolled out permanently for big clashes involving the world’s top sides.

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The 31-year-old said: “It’s going to be pretty quick so I hope I don’t get caught one-on-one with a winger.

“I’ve only played down at Cardiff on their artificial pitch and it was fine. I quite enjoyed it.

“I’ve been down at Kilmarnock to look at their pitch and it looks awesome. It will be great for the rugby.

“Does this sort of thing have a future at international level? Well if you had asked me that last year when the Murrayfield pitch was in the state it was, I’d have said yes.


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“But now it is immaculate I don’t see why we should have to go to synthetic pitches.

“It all depends on the money and clubs but I would still prefer to see big Tests played on grass. I’m a bit old school like that.”

Scotland will be hoping to round off their year with another impressive display after two encouraging performances in the two opening autumn Tests.

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Vern Cotter’s men ran in five tries in a victory against Argentina at Murrayfield two weeks ago before returning to the capital to run New Zealand close.

The All Blacks snatched a 24-16 win but the Scots had their chance to come within touching distance of a first ever win over the reigning world champions before skipper Greig Laidlaw missed a crucial kick at the posts.

But the defensive display shown against the Kiwis and their new-found attacking edge hint at brighter days on the horizon.

Twice last season the Scots failed to even register a point on the scoreboard when taking on top opposition - first to South Africa then, embarrassingly, against England.

But that came on the back of former coach Scott Johnson’s decision to hand a raft of young, inexperienced players their first taste of top-level rugby.

Now the likes of Jonny Gray, Finn Russell, Adam Ashe and Mark Bennett - who has unfortunately been ruled out for 12 weeks with a hamstring tear - have all shown significant progress in recent weeks.

And Dickinson believes if that same upward trajectory continues, the Scots will be well placed to compete during the RBS 6 Nations when it kicks-off in February.

“It is hard when new guys are getting bled into the team,” he explained. “It is a big jump from club rugby to the international stage, especially against some of the top teams in the world. If you are not up to speed you can really be punished.

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“Now, as you saw at the weekend and the week before, things are really starting to come together.

“A lot of young guys have transitioned seamlessly into the side and are up to speed. But everyone across the board needs to keep improving.

“But we have got good confidence from these last few weeks and now it is about finishing the series well against Tonga.

“They will pose a massive physical test so we have to prepare well.”



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