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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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