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Would The Six Nations Be Better Off If There Was Promotion And Relegation?

Would The Six Nations Be Better Off If There Was Promotion And Relegation?
By Conor O'Leary Updated
Originally Published 26th March 2015 (Current rankings - Italy 14th (71.46), Georgia 15th (71.35))

An odd thing happened last Monday. For the first time in rugby history, the Six Nations teams didn't occupy the top six ranked countries in European rugby. After their fifth Nations Cup victory in a row, Georgia have lifted themselves above Italy in the World Rankings to 14th position.

Europe's second tier rugby tournament is almost universally ignored but Georgia are certainly a growing force and the question has to be asked if they have outgrown their standing as seen by this year's Nations Cup table.

Source: wikipedia

With ideas being thrown around as to what can be done to improve the Six Nations and rugby in general, is there a case to be made that Georgia should be included in European rugby's elite competition?

Given that Mike Brown and Ben Youngs were not pleased with Italy and Scotland's efforts last Saturday. Are those two countries resting on their laurels?

Would rugby be better served if a promotion/relegation system was incorporated into the Six Nations? Part of World Rugby's edict is to grow the game outside the top tier of international countries. Georgia's growth and new lofty position in the world represents the first country that are attempting to bridge the gap between Tier One and Tier Two countries.

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The big question is whether the Georgians could compete with the likes of Italy and Scotland. Unfortunately, the home nations don't play Georgia all that often outside of the Rugby World Cup. Only Ireland have played Georgia outside of the World Cup of any of the home nations beating them 49-7 last November as well as regularly sending Wolfhounds teams to play in tournaments such as the Tbilisi Cup.

This is because the other nations are more interested in playing money spinning friendlies with the giants of the Southern Hemisphere. This was the same just before the Italians joined the Six Nations. Ireland played the Italians four times in the five years preceding the Italian inclusion into the competition excluding World Cup games. Scotland played three, Wales had five in seven years while England only had one. The top nations could do more to help the upcoming teams.

Italy are another Six Nations team that have played Georgia in recent times. Eight Italian teams have played against Georgia through the years, with the Georgians winning three of those games, albeit against Italy A and the emerging Italians.

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It's clear that with Georgia's five Nations Cup victories in a row (or seven wins in eight years in what is essentially the Six Nations second division), that they are outgrowing the competition that includes Romania, Portugal, Russia, and Spain.

The Six Nations is set for some surgery anyway, and if nothing is does while Georgia are at their most competitive then there is a likelihood that they could drop back down. A promotion relegation playoff between the winners of the Nations Cup and the bottom of the Six Nations isn't unreasonable, and would be the easiest way to assist the growth of rugby in Georgia.

So I ask again, should the Six Nations have promotion and relegation?

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See Also: How Would The Six Nations Have Turned Out If Bonus Points Were Awarded?
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