IT SHOULDN’T MATTER that they fluked a win against Scotland when Vern Cotter decided to take off his kicker and captain Greig Laidlaw with the game in the balance.
Italy’s four other performances in the Six Nations this year are the best possible argument for bringing relegation into the tournament. Why should Italy be the only ‘weaker’ country to benefit from the Six Nations exposure?
They didn’t finish last this year, and Scotland have plenty of problems too, but the Italian’s have shown little signs of kicking on from 2013, when they beat France and Ireland at home.
This is best illustrated at the out-half position, where they have imported in a New Zealander named Kelly Haimona who, without exaggerating, could well be the worst player to ever line out in the tournament.
His kicking is awful and with each attempt from the tee, legendary out-half Diego Dominguez must weep gently at what has befell his beloved jersey.
The Italian’s effort in the second half against Wales was pitiful, conceding 47 points. It was the same towards the end of last year’s competition as they shipped 46 against Ireland and 52 against England.
Why not promote Georgia into the Six Nations in the place of Italy? They have topped the European Nation Cup Division One table for the last four years and while they would likely fare no better than Italy in the majority of games, that is not a good enough argument for rewarding the Italians, or whoever else comes in last, with a constant place in the tournament.
Even a relegation playoff would be fairer, at least that way we would get a good idea as to where the Tier Two countries are in relation to the wooden spoon team. It might not seem fair to pick out Italy in a year where they actually beat Scotland, but overall they were the worst team despite their win.
Relegation would add so much extra excitement to the tournament. Imagine what 2013 would have been like for Ireland, who only escaped a last place finish on points difference. Joe Schmidt’s first job as national boss could have been negotiating a two-legged playoff against Georgia.
These lopsided losses take away from the Six Nations, and whoever is the most responsible for them each year should have to answer for it.
All of a sudden England’s coach has morphed into Eddie O’SullivanThe returning Irish heroes are so sound they are letting fans lift the Six Nations trophy