Scotland leave room for Nicol

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The Scottish Rugby Union in effect endorsed the cock-up theory of rugby history last night when a fax containing the identity of the Scotland squad for the World Cup in South Africa was inadvertently circulated nearly a day ahead of the scheduled announcement.

This embarrassment meant that there could be no official comment on the selection, which had been made on Tuesday evening. If there had been, it would probably have been to give the good news to Andy Nicol that if he can prove his fitness before the end of the season, he will fill the vacancy that has been left at scrum-half.

Nicol has been a non-playing Bath player this season, having joined the English champions 11 months ago after sustaining a serious knee injury. The first tentative steps of his comeback were made when he played half of a third-team match and last Saturday he successfully completed Bath seconds' fixture against Rugby.

He is not in the Bath team to play West Hartlepool on Saturday, but his first-team debut will not be long delayed and the Scotland selectors have graciously consented to exempt Nicol from the ban on members of their squad playing before the end of the season.

Nicol is one - albeit the most serious - of a number of injured players whose recovery has been in time for selection. Ian Jardine's jaw, Dave Hilton's ribs, Damian Cronin's elbow and Peter Walton's knee are all in sufficiently improved condition, and Gregor Townsend and Alan Sharp are the only injured contenders to have missed out.

SCOTLAND WORLD CUP SQUAD: Full-back: G Hastings (Watsonians, capt); Wings: C Glasgow (Heriot's FP), C Joiner (Melrose), K Logan (Stirling County), A Stanger (Hawick); Centres: S Hastings (Watsonians), I Jardine (Stirling County); Outside-halves: C Chalmers, G Shiel (Melrose); Scrum-halves: B Redpath (Melrose), A N Other.

Props: P Burnell (London Scottish), D Hilton (Bath), J Manson (Dundee HSFP), P Wright (Boroughmuir); Hookers: K McKenzie (Stirling County), K Milne (Heriot's FP); Locks: S Campbell (Dundee HSFP), D Cronin (Bourges), J Richardson (Edinburgh Academicals), G Weir (Melrose); Back row: I Morrison (London Scottish), E Peters (Bath), I Smith (Gloucester), R Wainwright (West Hartlepool), P Walton (Northampton).