Italy coach Conor O'Shea has back World Rugby's proposals for a new international tournament, saying that it would offer an exciting opportunity for some of the sport's lesser nations.
Suggestions that a new international rugby tournament was on the horizon started to surface last week, with World Rugby yesterday outlining how the competition would work.
World Rugby has moved to clarify the organisation’s position on the merits and structure of a Nations Championship concept in advance of key meetings in Dublin next week. pic.twitter.com/NlefufHdxf
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) March 6, 2019
One of the crucial changes it would make would be relegation from the Six Nations for the competition's bottom side every two years. They would then be replaced by the winners of Europe's second tier competition, which has been dominated by Georgia in this decade.
Italy have finished bottom of the Six Nations for three years running, and their place in the competition would be under major pressure should the new structures be introduced.
Despite all of this, O'Shea believes the new competition would be a major plus for the sport:
On the face of it this seems like a really exciting proposal. The one thing we need to do is to grow the game. If we just have the couple of rich kids winning everything we don’t have a game. It’s what is good for the game.
With what we’re doing in Italy I’d be quite comfortable that, whether it’s me here or someone else here, we have a bloody good team in the making. I’m really comfortable where this team can go.
If it comes in two or three years and they are talking about World League promotion and relegation playoffs, if that’s what it is we’ll play to the rules and don’t bet against Italy.
There have been calls for a promotion/relegation system in the Six Nations for a number of years now, with many claiming the Georgians deserve a crack at the tournament. It is hard to argue with those sentiments, especially when you consider Italy's lack of success since their introduction in 2000.