Italy find themselves in a difficult spot at the moment. While massive work has been done to improve their competitiveness at the top level, the fact of the matter is that their improvements have not kept pace with that of their Six Nations rivals.
The result of that has been an increasing irrelevance to their place in the competition, with many calling for serious structural changes to the championship in the years ahead.
Some have suggested that South Africa could replace Italy in the Six Nations, while the possibility of incorporating promotion and relegation via a second tier competition is also a possibility.
The question is, would such a system help Italy improve? There is also the issue that other nations would fear that they could be relegated off the back of one bad year, with teams other than Italy having finished bottom of the Six Nations on a number of occasions over the last couple of decades.
McKinley & D'Arcy not convinced by Six Nations relegation proposals
Speaking on The Takeaway, former Leinster and Italy out-half Ian McKinley said that he can understand why some people are calling for change, although relegation could massively damage Italian rugby moving forward.
You could have one bad year and could you imagine a Wales getting relegated? I don't think any union is going to sign up to that.
The performances of Italy the last few years, the last Six Nations they had a point difference of -184. If you're to call the Six Nations the greatest championship on the planet you have to have competitive games in every round.
The game against England a couple of weeks ago where they had the 33-0 defeat, that was draining to watch. I'm sure from a general public view, for the hardcore fans those games are not pleasing to watch. I can understand from a stakeholders or commercial point of view that is a very difficult product to watch.
I definitely know that if Italy were to be left out of a Six Nations discussion in the future, it would be damaging for Italian rugby.
Kieran Crowley (Italy head coach) has stated that he wouldn't mind seeing a promotion and relegation and for Italy to start winning again.
Italy at the moment are just falling between a category of nations that are performing at an exceptionally high level, probably the highest that the other five nations have been performing in the last few years. Unfortunately Italy have just fallen a bit behind everyone else.
The likes of Georgia, Portugal, Romania and Spain would likely contest a second-tier competition.
However, would any of them replacing Italy in the Six Nations make much of a difference? After all, these are teams of an even lesser standard as things currently stand.
Gordon D'Arcy feels that the standard amongst those nations must be significantly increased before relegation and promotion should be considered, while Ian McKinley is unsure that that group of teams would even want to compete in the Six Nations.
D'Arcy: You could only engage with that relegation and promotion if there was a second tier competition happening in parallel and that standard was rising.
For me, it would be a death sentence to relegate Italian rugby if they went back and started getting beaten by Georgia or Portugal. Then it stops to make sense anymore.
If that standard of rugby comes up, then the concept of relegation is not as unpalatable because you're going down to a decent level. Until that is brought up, I don't think we can entertain that sort of a concept.
We are years away from having that sort of stability in a second tier tournament.
McKinley: Neil Doak (former Georgia attack coach) has gone on the record in his time in Georgia, asking would he accept Georgia going into the Six Nations with promotion and relegation. He said Georgia aren't ready, they don't have the infrastructure and aren't thinking about it.
I think that is a really important thing, you almost don't want a situation where it is the same team going up and down. You're only getting into the same problem with different teams.
It is certainly a difficult situation to address, although it looks increasingly likely that changes to the format of the Six Nations will be coming in the years ahead.
Where that leaves the likes of Italy remains to be seen.
You can watch the full interview below.