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Six Nations: Italy can surprise an out-of-tune Scotland

Scotland skipper Kelly Brown in full voice

"You have to go back to 2006 to find a Six Nations tournament in which Scotland have won more than a single fixture, and they have lost to Italy in four of the last six outings."

Italy's shock opening day win over France has made Scotland favourites to retain the Six Nations wooden spoon - and Ralph Ellis fears not even a new CD can lift the Murrayfield spirits.

It was England's 1970 football World Cup squad who started the trend when they all got together in a studio and recorded 'Back Home'.

It remains a classic of its genre, beaten only by 'Three Lions', although there have been plenty of others that have plumbed the depths of musical taste instead. Whoever convinced John Barnes to do the rapping for 'World in Motion'in 1990? (editor: we like the rap; these are Ralph's personal views!)

How you view the records tends to depend on how the team performed afterwards. "We're on the march wi' Ally's Army" was actually a decent tune in 1978, but when the Scots got to Argentina the performances failed miserably to back it up - save for Archie Gemmill's goal, of course.

Anyway it seems the Scottish nation has come up with another memorable entry for dodgy sporting songs because their Six Nations rugby squad have just announced the release of their first ever single. It's a reworked version of the classic pipe tune "Highland Cathedral" with Saracens star and current Scotland skipper Kelly Brown on lead vocals.

Brown describes himself as "professional rugby player, part time singer" on his Twitter page, but has apparently admitted to being a pretty out of tune crooner and recorded his bit of the new CD in a changing room.

The idea is apparently to give the Murrayfield crowd something to cheer about on Saturday, and you fear they could well need a distraction because on the field the team is in a mess. Last weekend's thumping at Twickenham was the worst possible start to a campaign, and it is only when you start to look at the statistics that it comes home just how bad a state Scottish rugby has got itself into.

Wooden spoon winners - or should that be losers - in last year's Six Nations their clash with Italy has suddenly become pivotal to their chances of getting off the bottom of the table this year and the signs don't look good. They have an interim head coach in Scott Johnson, and an interim captain too because Brown is so far only being appointed on a game by game basis.

You have to go back to 2006 to find a Six Nations tournament in which they have won more than a single fixture, and have lost to Italy in four of the last six outings. They are 1.834/5 favourites to retain the Wooden Spoon.

To sum it up, the Flower of Scotland is wilting (maybe that's why they need a new song). And yet Italy, having just beaten France who many had fancied to be Grand Slam contenders, are odds against at 2.767/4 for Saturday's encounter at Murrayfield. That has to be the best value bet of this rugby weekend.

I know that Italy tend to save their best performances for matches in Rome, but they are a developing team and reaching the point where they can perform on foreign soil too. They have the power in the pack to match a Scottish forward line which struggled desperately at Twickenham, and underlined the strength of their defensive will by holding out in the last few minutes against the French with seven men in the scrum just a few metres from their own line. 

It gives the Italians genuine prospects of recording back to back victories for the first time, leaving Kelly and his mates only singing the blues.

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06 February 2013

Six Nations

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