Shane Byrne believes Italy’s place in the Six Nations will come under serious consideration if they do not improve their performances quickly.
Italy have now lost 30 Six Nations matches in a row and have conceded 139 points in their opening three fixtures of the 2021 championship.
Former Ireland international Byrne was speaking on RTE‘s Sunday Sport and suggested that the Italians are under threat from the likes of South Africa and Argentina, should they decide to relocate from the Rugby Championship.
— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) February 27, 2021
“It’s very frustrating to look at. Even in the last couple of seasons when they had a couple of narrow defeats and their defence was heroic and very good; it might just take one bad error, which would cost them a try,” Byrne said.
“But this year it’s almost the opposite. Their attack seems to be far better. Against France, against England they made clean line breaks several times. Their defence seems to have taken a step back.
“We always thought nothing could happen cause ‘the Italians can’t be abandoned after putting so much into it’ by bringing up Georgia or someone like that, restructuring the Six Nations into a two-tier tournament.
“But now with the thought of an Argentina or a South Africa stepping into the Six Nations, you have to think that their position in the Six Nations is becoming pretty precarious if this continues.”
30 defeats and counting
Italy last tasted victory in the Six Nations in 2015, when they defeated Scotland by three points at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh.
However, since then it has been a constant string of defeats for the Azzurri, with most of their losses being extremely one-sided.
With South Africa’s clubs moving in line with the northern hemisphere by joining the Pro16, there have been suggestions that the Springboks may also decide to ply their trade with European teams.
However, despite their exit from Super Rugby, southern hemisphere rugby governing body SANZAAR announced last November that South Africa signed a deal keeping them in the Rugby Championship until 2030.