The Official Online RBS 6 Nations Store is open. The store has everything you need to get behind your team during the RBS 6 Nations, plus the store is now fully stocked with a much wider range of rugby merchandise.
There were positives to emerge particularly in the shape of 6ft 10in lock Richie Gray and the lively displays of Max Evans, Sean Lamont and Joe Ansbro behind the scrum.
And Nicol, who won 23 caps for Scotland, believes the building blocks are in place for Scotland to progress as long as they are not carrying any passengers.
He said: “What is clear from the Six Nations is that Scotland need everyone in their team to deliver a good performance if they are to have a chance of doing well.
“Any time when it is just three or four players that are playing well they will get badly beaten.
“In many ways they started off playing quite well in Paris and also put in good performances at Twickenham and against Italy; the disappointment was the two games in between.
“They started so badly in that first 20 minutes against Wales that effectively decided the following 140 minutes.
“I thought Kelly Brown was very consistent as he has been for two years, Max Evans brought flair and Joe Ansbro really made a difference when he came into the side
“But for me Richie Gray was head and shoulders above everyone else quite literally and was one of my players of the tournament.
“When you first meet him you are immediately struck by how big he is physically, but what surprises you is how quick and mobile he is around the pitch.
“He is a special talent because he does have a rugby brain on him – knowing where to go to and when.”
In a bid to keep Scotland’s key performers in tip-top shape, the SRU forced Glasgow trio Al Kellock, Richie Gray, and John Barclay along with Edinburgh duo Ross Ford and Allan Jacobsen to sit out the regions’ final four matches as well as not participating in any contact training sessions.
The decision understandably upset many at both Edinburgh and Glasgow but Nicol believes keeping Scotland’s main men in cotton wool is the right move.
He said: “This was not just done on a coach’s whim; it has been done on medical grounds. There are short and long-term benefits to doing it.
“If these guys have niggling injuries then they easily become long-term injuries. A lot of thought has gone into it.
“There is a medical justification there to protect our talented players and it will be for the best in the long run.”
In the short term however both Edinburgh and Glasgow suffered in the absence of their leading lights and only the two Italian teams – Treviso and Aironi – kept the Scottish sides off the foot of the table.
Nicol was speaking as an ambassador for RBS RugbyForce which encourages communities to come together and give something back to their local club by volunteering to help with DIY and repairs.
This year’s RBS RugbyForce Weekendtakes places on 11th and 12th June 2011 and Evans will help to select three clubs across England, Scotland and Wales to receive a special package.
For further information and tips on how to organise their own RBS RugbyForce weekend at www.rbs.co.uk/rugbyforce