(Reuters) – England coach Eddie Jones said the Six Nations should consider introducing relegation after Italy lost their 21st consecutive match in the Championship on Saturday.
England beat Italy 57-14 at Twickenham to consign the visitors to a last-placed finish in the standings for the fourth year in a row.
Italy, who entered the Six Nations Championship in 2000, have finished in the bottom two every year except when they finished fourth in 2007 and 2013.
“To improve it (the Six Nations) you’ve got to find a way of making sure you’ve got the six best teams in Europe always playing in it,” Jones told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“I think they should always consider rewarding merit, it doesn’t matter what competition you’re in. If that involves relegation then it’s something that should be looked at very closely.
“The organisers talk about the Six Nations being the best rugby competition in the world and it probably is close to it.”
Georgia, holders of the Rugby Europe International Championship (second-tier) title, are favourites to replace Italy if relegation is introduced.
Georgia’s squad spent two days at England’s training camp and Jones said their presence on and off the training pitch helped his team to overcome their defeat by Wales last month.
“We had a couple of hard training runs against Georgia, a few nights on the beer. Just relaxing, enjoying each others’ company, and a bit of fun organised by the players in between the hard training,” Jones added.
It’s just finding that right balance.”
England, who are second in the Championship behind Wales, play their final game next Saturday when they host Scotland at Twickenham. Jones’s side could still win the title with a victory if holders Ireland won in Wales earlier in the day.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; editing by Clare Fallon)