Sam Warburton has lost patience with Italy, suggesting that the Azzurri must now face a relegation playoff to justify their ongoing inclusion on the Six Nations.


Italy fell to a landslide 50 – 10 loss at home in Rome to the high flying French, but the nature of their most recent capitulation has many wanting to see the axe swing for the Italians. They haven’t won a Six Nations game since their 22–19 away win against Scotland in Round 3 of the 2015 tournament.

A play-off would most likely see them face Georgia, who the Italians have beaten twice in a total of just two matches between the sides.

Video Spacer

Video Spacer

Warburton’s comments came before the Wales Ireland game on the BBC and it seems to have struck a chord.

“There’s got to be a change,” Warburton told his BBC co-hosts. “It’s not just throwing your toys out of the pram off one game. For quite a few years now Italy haven’t really been competitive. I personally think there’s got to be promotion and relegation in the Six Nations.

“Say if it was last year, Georgia, who won the second tier competition… We can’t keep putting a glass ceiling on these teams in Europe because otherwise how do we know what the growth in Europe is going to be like?


“If that’s the case, Italy come bottom and Georgia win, in the next international window, Georgia should travel to Italy – so Italy still get home advantage and a chance to stay in the competition – for a playoff game. That would get some pretty good TV viewings, I’m sure. I’d like to see that.

“I think enough is enough. Italy just don’t have the strength in depth from a player pool point of view. They’re just not good enough to compete at this level right now.”

Former England captain and manager Martin Johnson chipped in, saying their latest no show made him cringe. “It was far too easy for France. We’re sitting here cringing.

“Even when we’ve beaten Italy in the past, they’ve always made it a game. You had to go and beat them, and they were tough defensively. They were physical. They made it very difficult for you. They kept hold of possession and kept it away from you.”


Mailing List

Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.

Sign Up Now