Ruck and Maul: Brothers keen to take up arms for England in Scotland


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The Independent Online

The Dickson family are hoping for a double in Scotland over the Calcutta Cup weekend. The Northampton scrum-half Lee Dickson is a fair bet to win at least a place on the England bench at Murrayfield on Saturday week. His older brother Karl, also a No 9, for Harlequins, hopes to recover from a finger injury to play for the Saxons against Scotland A in Galashiels the night before.

If things had worked out differently Lee, 26, might have been taking salutes. He was not capped by England at schoolboy level and had been accepted for basic training in the Royal Marines when he was leaving Barnard Castle school, alma mater of the England internationals Rob Andrew, Rory and Tony Underwood and Mathew Tait. "Then John Fletcher rang me to offer a place in the Newcastle academy and it went from there," Dickson told Ruck and Maul. "Now I'm playing rugby, married with two kids, it's panned out very well." Dickson's father, Steve – recently retired as a major in the Royal Signals – and mum Shirley try to see every match the boys play.

Lewis in nostalgic mood

Lewis Moody, England's captain at the World Cup and for 11 out of the last 20 matches, admits it is tough being off the scene since his international retirement in October. "Touch wood I'll be fit and playing in a game for Bath during the Six Nations," said the 33-year-old back-rower, "otherwise I'll be doing hospitality at Twickenham which will be very bizarre. I was lucky to play for England as long as I did. They were incredible times – World Cup finals in 03 and 07, a Grand Slam, record consecutive number of wins, all the players and coaches. The last few months were disappointing but I've got 11 years to look back on and I enjoyed all of it." Scotland's most capped player, Chris Paterson, will present the match ball on Calcutta Cup day, to mark his retirement from Tests – all 109 of them.

Justice not blind to 'bias'

Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu shared in Gloucester's win over Toulouse on Friday that would have condemned the French club to second place in the pool and possible elimination if Harlequins hadn't made a Horlicks of their match in Connacht. The Samoan centre had pleaded that he would lose his career and his house – he feared being unable to "make his mortgage payments", one judgement noted - during several disciplinary hearings into his controversial tweets during and after the World Cup. But "EFS" remains free to play despite having his ban from playing increased from six months to nine, suspended for a period of three years instead of two. Buried away, though, in Judge Jeff Blackett's original judgement, delivered in his role as a judicial officer at the World Cup last October, was an interesting observation on refereeing. While clearing the Welsh whistler Nigel Owens of any bias in his handling of Samoa's match against South Africa – in a pool that included Wales – Blackett said: "It may have been unwise for a Welsh referee to be appointed to a match, the result of which had a direct impact on Wales's progress in the tournament, for reasons of perception." Other such examples in the tournament in New Zealand included Wayne Barnes of England handling Argentina v Scotland and Ireland's Alain Rolland and George Clancy in charge of Australia v Italy and Italy v USA respectively. We wait to see if the International Rugby Board will act on Blackett's words for RWC 2015.

Abendandon takes a break

Quite what Nick Abendanon was doing mucking about on the green baize in the Masters at Alexandra Palace, when he should be getting ready for England Saxons' match against Ireland Wolfhounds at Exeter on Saturday, is anyone's guess. Or was it in fact the Bath full-back's lookey-likey, Aussie snooker star Neil Robertson?