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Matt Williams Makes Bold South Africa Six Nations Prediction

Matt Williams Makes Bold South Africa Six Nations Prediction
By Eoin Harrington

Italy lost once again in the Six Nations on Saturday, and it led to a major debate in the Virgin Media studio, where Matt Williams made a bold claim about the potential for South Africa to join the Six Nations.

Williams, Shane Horgan, and Ian McKinley were discussing Italy's place in the Six Nations, when former Leinster coach Williams suggested that South Africa joining the competition would stop any Celtic nations from winning the tournament "possibly ever".

Matt Williams thinks South Africa would dominate Six Nations

It's a regularly scheduled moment in the rugby calendar, when Italy fail to win a single Six Nations game, and the alternatives to their continued place in the competition are discussed.

Saturday brought a 24-33 home defeat to Scotland, and a renewal of the debate around Italy's participation. One of the most heavily mooted solutions to the problem is for South Africa to join the Six Nations, perhaps in Italy's place.

Shane Horgan suggested such a solution on Virgin Media's coverage of Italy v Scotland, prompting Matt Williams to respond with a bold claim. Williams suggested that the Springboks would dominate the tournament if they joined, and said he could not see any of the current teams winning away in South Africa in a Six Nations game.

The problem with international rugby is that it is the result of long-term athletic development. You can't develop the group required at the national team - it has to be done before they get there.

That's why the academy systems and club systems are so important. I'm going to say something here, disagreeing with Shane. If South Africa come into this competition, the Celtic countries will face not winning the competition again, possibly ever.

That cannot happen. The Welsh, the Irish, and the Scots cannot enter into a competition that is traditionally theirs, where they say, "the chances of you winning this in the future are almost nil."

How are Ireland, Scotland, or Wales, going to go down to Pretoria in the summer and win?

It's certainly a bold claim from Williams. There's no doubt that the presence of one of the biggest sides in world rugby would not do any favours to the hopes of the current lineup of teams.

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Shane Horgan, however, argued that an opponent as strong as South Africa would be a far better prospect than the perennial wooden spoon winners of Italy.

It could be difficult to win a Grand Slam under those circumstances, very difficult.

But that's not the point. I'm not saying that South Africa should be in this. There will be a drumbeat that will say, 'how can we continue with one nation that loses every single game.'

It cannot continue. Unless it's changed at some point, somebody is going to say, 'to make this more competitive, let's get South Africa in.

We're not sure how likely it is that South Africa will actually join the Six Nations, but we are certain that the debate around Italy and their place in the competition will rage on as long as they continue losing games.

SEE ALSO: Remembering Ireland's Most Iconic Six Nations Win At Twickenham

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