A 79-point World Cup loss to the All Blacks has resulted in fresh calls for Italy to be axed from the Six Nations championship for the Springboks.
Italy came close to conceding 100 points in their 96-17 hammering at the hands of New Zealand in the Pool A match in Lyon on Friday night.
The loss has been interpreted as proof that the Azurri are no longer fit for purpose and should lose their place in the Six Nations to defending world champions South Africa.
Italy have won 13 tournament games since joining the Six Nations in 2000 and have often gone entire campaigns without a single victory.
While they broke a seven-year losing streak by beating Wales in Cardiff in 2022, Italy once again finished a winless wooden spoonists in the 2023 Six Nations.
Irish commentator and pundit Hugh Cahill said that he believes the Springboks will soon replace Italy, as both teams can’t both play in the Six Nations due to the demands of the Test calendar.
“Only a matter of time before South Africa replace Italy in 6N’s,” Cahill wrote on his X (formerly Twitter) account.
“Rugby calendar won’t allow seven teams. Love Italians and everything about the country, but professional rugby there has not evolved or progressed to a sufficient degree. Tonight is the proof.”
South Africa’s domestic teams moved to Europe by joining the URC and Champions Cup after leaving the southern hemisphere’s Super Rugby.
To this point, Six Nations bosses have been eager to downplay the chances the Boks will join the tournament, while South Africa does remain contracted to play in the Rugby Championship until 2025.
Phto: SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP