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Irish pundit calls for Italy to be axed from Six Nations to make way for South Africa

By Kim Ekin
Tommaso Allan of Italy looks dejected during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between New Zealand and Italy at Parc Olympique on September 29, 2023 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Michael Steele - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Irish TV commentator and rugby reporter Hugh Cahill has called for Italy to be axed from the Six Nations following their 96-17 defeat to the All Blacks in Lyon.


The manner of conceding nearly 100 points was proof that Italian rugby is no longer fit for purpose in Europe’s premier international rugby competition.

Italy has just 13 victories from 120 Six Nations appearances since joining the competition in 2000 and often go long stretches without wins.

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They were able to break a seven-year losing streak in 2022 when they beat Wales 22-21 for their first victory since 2015, but ended up with the wooden spoon again in 2023 with another winless campaign.

Cahill wrote it was “only a matter of time” before South Africa takes Italy’s place in the Championship. He believed there wasn’t room for both teams due to the demands of the annual calendar.

South Africa’s domestic teams already compete in Europe in the United Rugby Championship and the Stormers have featured in two finals, winning one.


But breaking into the Six Nations at Italy’s expense would be difficult with the ownership structure in place. The six national unions and private equity arm CVC all have equity stakes in the competition.

Those against Cahill’s proposal were quick to point out Italy’s success at age grade level.

Italy’s U20 side has offered some promise in recent seasons, finishing third in 2023 and fourth in 2022 in the U20 Six Nations.

They also produced a historic result at this year’s U20 World Championship beating hosts South Africa by 34-26.


The national side may benefit from this promising crop over the next few seasons and boost Italy’s competitiveness.

South Africa would bring one of the world’s most physical teams into the mix that would upend the competition.

Along with the current top two ranked sides Ireland and France, adding South Africa would create a super league.

But success for the Springboks would not be guaranteed given the strength of European rugby and how difficult it is to win away.


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Michael 295 days ago

Automatically qualifying is not allowing the tier 2 teams to meet tier ones. That's a good point to. Welsh teams joining English, would provide 4 new places in the URC, that would help gow game to, and create more income in Spain and Portugal. Further leauge. Cheetahs ,Black Lion club, be good additions, and more competitive than Welsh teams have been.

Michael 295 days ago

This is the worst proposal ever. Italy are essential for rugby's future. Ireland have the most wooden spoons in 5/6 nation history, followed by France. Should they have been dropped back then? Italy should start rebuilding straight after the tournament, Gallorini, Odiase, Carlo Mey, great talents to name just 3. They need an active 7's program, a development team in super rugby Europe and an Emerging Italy team, all pathways, to cream the talent off, for national team.

mark 295 days ago

Considering Italy are generally the whipping boy in the 6N, I'm not sure how Scotland would feel about replacing Italy's role.... 🤣

Damian 295 days ago

The views of a pundit hold no weight and I'm sure the Home Nations know how hard it is to beat RSA at home. Also very unkind. When the Allblacks thump Ireland in the quarter I wonder if the same pundit will want to include NZ in the six nations instead of Ireland? The other der-brain thing is that the Italians are actually playing great rugby - very similar style to the Irish.

Filippo 295 days ago

What this simpleton doesn't understand Is that our sport needs to grow
The last thing you wanna do Is to kill It in such a Major country like Italy. I didn't Say major market, It ain't there yet, but in terms of population, yes. You wanna grow the game, not make It more insular. And in order to do that you gotta try your best to get the big Boys interested. That starts of course with the US. But then you Need to try in Germany, Spain, Brazil, maybe China. The last thing you wanna do Is to drop Italy from the 6N
And by the way: congrats to NZ rugby for killing SR. See you guys in 20 years

Paul 295 days ago

Nobody should pay any attention to what Hugh Cahill says. He can barely put together a coherent commentary and often gets the basic concepts of rugby wrong. RTE are an incompetent old boys club and he keeps the job not because he knows what is doing but because they wouldn't know what else to do with him.

Did he call for Ireland to be dropped from the 6N when we lost 60-0 to NZ in 2012? What about when England lost 78-0 to Australia in 1998?

South Africa joining the 6N would shrink the game rather than grow it. We need a strong Southern Hemisphere competition along with more meaningful games for the PNC and Rugby Europe teams.

Giannis 296 days ago

This so called "irish pundit" (who is he ??) seems to want more commercial ads and less rugby. This RWC is showing us that "small" countries are fighting to reach a higher level. Some games with Chile, Georgia, Uruguay or Portugal show us there is a will if there is also a lack of power, speed, technicity. There is not enough opportunities to improve. I am throwing a stone in the pond : no more free tickets for World Cup! Qualify first against your neighbours. Yes that means NZ-Samoa, England-Roumania, Argentina-Uruguay etc. OK, the scores will be the same at first but these small teams will meet big ones more often.

chris 296 days ago

I think both South Africa and a European qualifier team such as Georgia need to be added to 6 nations....the game needs a broader base and better quality...
Can do this with 2 groups of 4 playing 3 matches..
Top 2 from each play super 4 league with 2 matches against 2 qualifiers from other group.
Therefore no more than 5 matches.
Great fan of SA rugby, I lived in Johannnesburg for 5 years.
Fans could fly overnight to JNB, see saturday match and fly back next night, no
need accomodation, same time zone

Cam 296 days ago

😂. Is someone as keen for clicks as another individual who has very lopsided opinions?

Flankly 296 days ago

Both the 6N and TRC need parallel second tier tournaments in the NH and SH respectively, with promotion and relegation. But turkeys don't vote for Thanksgiving.

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