Italy prop Dario Chistolini has conceded the RBS 6 Nations probably needs promotion and relegation to grow rugby across Europe.
The Zebre front-rower has challenged Italy to start beating more top-level nations in order to cement their Six Nations status, ahead of Sunday’s World Cup clash with Ireland.
Italy have won just 12 of 80 Six Nations matches and ex-Gloucester prop Chistolini admitted the likes of Romania and Georgia probably merit the chance to play their way into Europe’s top Test competition.
“We play a lot of tier one teams and we need to start winning more games to keep our world ranking up and so forth,” Chistolini told Press Association Sport.
“Rome is a great world rugby venue at the moment and if you move it to say Bucharest or Tbilisi as examples, I don’t think it’s the same thing.
“I do think maybe they have the right to have some sort of relegation match though.
“The only way to get better is to play the top teams regularly.
“We’re playing the top teams regularly, so sometimes the results don’t look brilliant. But if we were playing tier two teams more regularly then maybe it would be a different story on the win front.
“But we do need to start winning, definitely.”
Italy must beat Ireland on Sunday to keep their slim quarter-final hopes alive, with inspirational captain Sergio Parisse back in harness after a calf haematoma.
Chistolini expects a fierce encounter at London’s Olympic Stadium.
“It’s a massive challenge for us against Ireland,” said Chistolini.
“They are one of the best sides around at the moment and have had a very strong two years. But we’ve beaten them before and we will do all we can to do so again.”