Rugby Football Union council members agreed unanimously to extend the competition. France, Ireland and Scotland, all of whom had recently been beaten by Italy, confirmed their support at a meeting in January, as did Wales, who secured a narrow three-point victory over the new boys only a fortnight ago.
Vernon Pugh, a Five Nations Comittee member, congratulated Giancarlo Dondi, the president of the Italian Rugby Union. "This must be a very proud day for him," said Pugh. "We were all very impressed by the professional and persuasive arguments made by the Ital- ians both on and off the field."
The deserving Italians will be the first Five Nations newcomers since France, who were granted a place in 1910.
England's top clubs reached agreement with the Rugby Football Union yesterday over plans to extend Allied Dunbar Premiership One by two clubs to 14 next season. With no relegation this season, the news comes as a major boost to Bristol and London Irish, who currently occupy the bottom two positions in Premiership One.Reuse content