Rugby union: Nicol in the wars again

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The Independent Online
BATH'S WORST fears were confirmed last night when their former captain Andy Nicol was ruled out for the next six weeks while he recovers after damaging the medial ligaments to his left knee, an injury suffered in the weekend's Allied Dunbar Premiership defeat against Saracens.

Nicol now joins a lengthening list of Bath crocks as they enter a crucial run of away matches. The reigning European champions were already without long-term casualties Jon Preston and Phil de Glanville, as well as the captain, Richard Webster, and hooker Mark Regan who will both be out for a further two weeks.

But Nicol was still a relieved man last night after leaving hospital following an extensive examination. "The good news is that it is just the medial ligaments that have been damaged and nothing else in the joint," said Nicol. "I should be back by the middle of February."

Lesser men would have thrown in the bloodied towel a long time ago, but the Bath scrum-half has nothing but nickel-plated indifference to injury and pain.

The damage to the left knee is just one more blow in the Scotland scrum- half's sporting career. Indeed, with his medical history he has become something of an expert in rehabilitation. In the last five years Nicol has had his right knee rebuilt, damaged the medial ligaments in his left knee, suffered three awkward hamstring tears and dislocated an elbow. However, he has insisted: "The thought of giving up never entered my head."

n The Irish Rugby Football Union has confirmed it will not be involved in the British and Irish League proposed for next season.