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Opinion: Italy in the Six Nations – Should they introduce relegation?

From 1910, the Five Nations has been the annual rugby event between England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and France. In 2000, Italy joined the competition to create the Six Nations we know today, is it time that changes?

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We already know that relegation exists in football and club rugby, whereby teams at the bottom of the table, risk facing being dropped from the league. On the other hand clubs can get promoted if they are exceeding in the division below, therefore nothing is permanent and provides a constant flow of attraction and engagement.

The annual Six Nations Championship is one of the biggest rugby tournaments of the calendar year. Months of training goes into the competition, bringing players from club rugby into a national team. However, with every competition, there can only be one winner and unfortunately, one loser. 99% of which, is likely to be Italy.

Since the first game in the 1947 Championship, there has been a mixed bag of champions between the five countries and since the introduction of Italy in 2000, not much has changed as they are yet to win a Six Nations competition. Italy have also been given the wooden spoon (last in the competition) 17 out of 21 years they have been included.

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As it stands, Italy have lost 95 out of 108 games played, with England being the only team that they have not beaten. So is it time to introduce relegation if they are not putting up much of a competition after 21 years?

Georgia have been rumoured to be the team succeeding the Italians in the Six Nations competition, although there has been no confirmation or evidence that is is going to happen any time soon.

Interestingly, Georgia lost all of their games between England, Wales and Ireland in the 2020 Autumn Nations Cup, so would they be a suitable replacement to give the other five countries a challenge?

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In this case, perhaps relegation would be beneficial so that the competition can be a six way battle, instead of one team always left behind (in this case Italy and perhaps the same if Georgia were to replace them).

Personally I would introduce another high skilled rugby team such as South Africa or New Zealand. Both teams would really stir things up and it would be a real battle to see.

Aside from Lions tours and World Cups, we rarely get the chance to meet. The Six Nations have some of the top rugby teams in the world, such as England and Wales. It would be interesting to see other highly ranked team, such as the All Blacks play.

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If relegation did come into play however where would that leave Italy?

After all the years they have been in the Six Nations, I don’t think it would be fair to drop them. They have put in a lot of time and effort and I think their morale is something to really award them for. Being able to give their all in each performance, despite being on the back foot and constantly losing games. A lower level tournament would benefit them more alongside less skilled international teams such as Fiji or Japan.

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