Italian woes a big problem for Champions cup
It is now 15 years since Italy became an official member of the Six Nations.
They were voted on board at a time when the Italian national side was in its pomp. The only way was up, or so it seemed. Alas it has been a struggle for the Azzurri ever since.
At least at the highest level, specifically the Six Nations, they pull the odd rabbit out of the hat, but between Pro 12 and more specifically the Heineken/Champions Cup, the Italian record borders on the abysmal.
The logic should be simple: consistent competitive involvement with the European club elite, and standards rise accordingly.
So much for the theory as yet again Treviso, this year's Italian representative, prop up the group with four defeats from four. Mind you, the Scarlets and Leinster can boast of the same heady heights this time around, while Oyonnax are in much the same type of merde from one game less.
The difference is that whether it be Zebre or Treviso, you know the Italian representative is guaranteed to finish bottom of the Pool.
For a competition that prides itself on the Champions moniker, it's a little difficult to see where the Italian qualifier fits in. EPCR has a problem in need of urgent address.