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There was a time during 2017 when many European rugby journalists made a case for Georgia to join the Six Nations, expanding that tournament to seven teams. Some suggested a three-match playoff against Italy the perennial bottom dweller, with the winner staying in the Six Nations Tournament while the loser would be relegated to the European B Championship.

Today, not so much.

Since their 2015 Rugby World Cup performance of two wins and two defeats, Georgia have gone 16-5-1 with a memorable victory over Samoa and two wins against the USA. They lost to Japan, Argentina, Scotland and Wales, all Tier 1 nations. But they also lost to Romania 8-7, playing away to a sparse crowd of 7,500 in Bucharest. The end of Championship B loss resulted in a tie for the European event, with both squads ending with 19 points.

Some posited that maybe Georgia and Romania should be added to make it an annual Eight Nations tournament.

An emerging Georgia, backed by a millionaire patron and loyal fan support, would benefit from a calendar of Tier 1 competition but the Six Nations membership will never drop Italy out of the tournament. The Italians joined in 2000 to offer three television games per weekend, an added lucrative revenue stream for the organization. Although Italy have won two games (out of five played), on a few occasions, they have finished last in twelve of the eighteen seasons.  However, the Azzurri play in Rome and have been an integral participant in western European sport with a recognizable athletic brand, enjoying soccer, track and field, water polo, basketball, and winter sports, etc. successes for decades. The Italians will remain in the rugby Six Nations event.

What’s the Georgia solution? There isn’t one; no Italy replacement and no current enthusiasm to add a weak seventh team in far off eastern Europe to the mainstream Six Nations championship.

For now. Georgia must be content to remain in the secondary European B Championship and beat Romania. 

Comments

It would be a radical idea (no less radical than an 8-Nations tournament, or relegation, though), but what if the Six Nations were to bring in Georgia and Romania and go to a conference system? Conferences could be seeded, starting from the most recent 6N and European Nations Cup results. So if starting in 2018, Pool A would be England, Scotland, Wales, Georgia; Pool B would be Ireland, France, Italy, Romania. At the end of the pool stage, either the teams would play the team in the same position for the championship (pool winners) and next year's seed, or the top two in each pool would play semi-finals and final/third place for the championship, and the third- and fourth-place teams would play the team in the same position for seeding. There would be some sort of profit sharing on both broadcast rights and ticket sales, so some of World Rugby's richest unions would be helping grow the game.
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