"Replacement lined-up" - Italy's place in the Six Nations could be under threat following huge defeat - Ruck

“Replacement lined-up” – Italy’s place in the Six Nations could be under threat following huge defeat

Italy, having secured just one victory in the past eight Six Nations campaigns, has been the subject of ongoing discussion in recent years regarding its standing among the tier one nations.

Former England wing Chris Ashton believes that Friday night’s resounding defeat against The All Blacks raises significant doubts about their status in this regard.

“The fact they racked that up with ease…I was involved, in 19 years of playing, in only one 100+ point game,” said Ashton.

“That would have been in the Championship. Even that game felt ridiculous that we were scoring every couple of minutes. New Zealand have just absolutely battered a fellow tier one nation.

“It has to be [a damaging result for Italy]. There’s always this talk of whether Italy should be in or out.

“If you’re these tier two teams…if you’re Samoa, if you’re Tonga, if you’re Portugal or Uruguay, you’re looking at that and thinking, ‘we can do better than that.’ They’re the ones that are hurting because they’re looking at that and thinking, ‘we are definitely better than that, with the resources that we have.

“Italy keep getting the chance, time and time again. We aren’t getting a foot in the door here, but we’re performing better than what we’ve just seen tonight.’

“More questions to be answered after tonight, I think.”

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.”

Rugby Quiz:

The 30 best rugby players in the world have been ranked, Owen Farrell 29th

#30. Dan Sheehan (Ireland)

A rising Irish hooker known for his powerful scrummaging and dynamic play in open field. Sheehan’s agility and tackling prowess make him a vital asset in set pieces and loose play alike, hinting at a promising future in international rugby

#29. Owen Farrell (England)

England’s steadfast captain and fly-half, Farrell’s tactical brilliance and accurate kicking guide his team’s gameplay. Renowned for his leadership, his defensive grit and ability to control the game’s pace make him a linchpin in England’s rugby strategy.

Wales Online wrote: “The 31-year-old has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons recently but is a player you’d rather play with than against. Farrell is a natural leader of men, and will play a crucial role if England are to drag themselves out of the rut they find themselves in.”

#28. Thibaud Flament (France)

A versatile lock for France, Flament’s towering presence in the lineout and ferocious work rate define his style. With his strong carrying and breakdown skills, he is a force to be reckoned with in both set-piece dominance and open-field encounters.

#27. Shannon Frizell (New Zealand)

Frizzell’s imposing physique and aggressive ball-carrying mark him as a formidable All Black flanker. His offloading ability, coupled with his defensive prowess, cements his position as a player who consistently makes his presence felt on the field.

#26. Steven Kitshoff (South Africa)

An anchor of the Springboks’ scrum, Kitshoff’s experience and technical expertise are unmatched. His exceptional work rate and relentless tackling contribute to his reputation as a reliable front-row stalwart, key to South Africa’s forward dominance.