Sat, Feb 03, 2007 - Page 18 News List

Vickery calls for world champions to rediscover pride

AFP , LONDON

England rugby captain Phil Vickery has told the world champions to rediscover their pride when they launch their Six Nations campaign against Scotland in today's Calcutta Cup clash at Twickenham.

The match marks England's first of a year that culminates with the defense of their World Cup title in France but few expect Vickery to be lifting the trophy in October given his side's recent run of eight defeats in nine Tests.

But a new year has, England hope, brought a new start.

Brian Ashton has replaced Andy Robinson as coach with Vickery taking over from Martin Corry as captain.

Ashton's decision to recall Jonny Wilkinson for his first Test in more than three years since he kicked the World Cup winning drop goal has reignited supporter interest.

However, England will have to do more than rely on the Newcastle star's boot if they are to return to winning ways.

Vickery has tried to turn the team's abysmal recent record into a positive.

"We have no reputation any more, so it is a good chance for everyone to go out and start the building blocks again. Let's go out and get a bit of pride back in the jersey," he said.

Former Bath and Ireland boss Ashton has a reputation as an attack-minded coach but Vickery insisted playing winning rugby was his main priority.

"Everyone has this perception of Brian as being a coach who wants free-flowing rugby and the ball being spread around everywhere all the time," said the skipper. "But when you actually train with him there is a lot more to him than that. I just think he wants us, as players, to go out there and take responsibility -- not try and be stupid, but at the same time enjoy ourselves and use what assets we have within the team."

However, there is no better side than Scotland when it comes to upsetting the best-laid plans. Last season Frank Hadden's men overturned the odds to beat both Six Nations champions France and England.

Scotland haven't won at Twickenham for 24 years but current captain Chris Paterson said: "These records are just periphery really. We have more than enough to concentrate on and we know what we have to do to change those records."

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