Sunday 20 October 2019

'It's about what's good for the game' - Conor O'Shea open to introduction of promotion play-offs in Six Nations

Italy head coach Conor O'Shea (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
Italy head coach Conor O'Shea (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)

Duncan Bech

Conor O'Shea would welcome the introduction of promotion and relegation into the Guinness Six Nations even though it would threaten Italy's Championship future.

Georgia are pushing hard for inclusion among Europe's elite with the Azzurri the most likely side to face them if a play-off against the side finishing top of the second tier was introduced.

That prospect remains unlikely with the Six Nations a commercially driven competition controlled by the unions involved, but O'Shea would accept it as a means to enhance the global game.

"Just tell us the rules and we'll play it and make sure the game grows," Italy's head coach said.

"It's about what's good for the game. With what we're doing in Italy I'd be quite comfortable that whether it's me here or someone else here, we have a bloody good team in the making.

"We want to make some memories in the short term, but I know this group is going to be together for quite some time.

"We play for the future of Italian rugby every day we go out on the pitch. We play to win now, but we're also playing for the future."

O'Shea also embraces the idea of the Nations Championship - World Rugby's annual competition devised to improve the number of quality teams competing in the global arena.

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"On the face of it this seems like a really exciting proposal. The one thing we need to do is to grow the game," O'Shea said.

"If we just have the couple of rich kids winning everything then we don't have a game. That's at club level and international level.

"The Italian job is not about me, it's about making Italy a competitive force again like it was and it will be. It should be the same for Georgia, Romania, Fiji, Canada.

"They are protecting Lions years, they are protecting World Cup year. It sounds all right."

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