Rugby Union: Nicol escapes serious injury

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ANDY NICOL, the Scottish scrum-half, is now expected to be fit to play in a week despite giving rise to a major injury scare during the North and Midlands' eventual defeat by a single point against Connaught at Dunfermline, writes Bill Leith.

The match - one of four which marked the start of a new rivalry between the Scottish districts and the Irish provinces - saw Nicol taken away to hospital. Happily, the injury turned out to be nothing more serious than a neck compression.

Though Nicol will wear a support brace to protect his neck for the next few days, the prognosis is all the more welcome following the news that his fellow Scot, Gary Armstrong, sustained a broken rib while playing scrum-half for the Barbarians in Cardiff.

The experiment between the Scots and the Irish, set up to raise domestic standards in both countries, should have its spectator appeal tested this weekend.

Edinburgh, away winners over Leinster, have an attractive home encounter with an Ulster side who added to the South of Scotland's current woes.

Beaten 84-5 by the All Blacks, the South went down 44-26 in Belfast on Saturday. This means the South have conceded 128 points, including 17 tries, in their last two matches.