Italy captain Sergio Parisse has reacted angrily to the suggestion that promotion and relegation should be introduced in the Six Nations.
Wales host Italy on Saturday with home coach Warren Gatland saying the Azzurri deserve their place, but backing a one-up, one-down play-off in the long term.
On current standings Italy would play Georgia for a place in 2017’s event.
“I think it is a stupid question because I think Italy do a lot for this tournament,” said number eight Parisse.
“Imagine teams like Ireland, Scotland or even France being last in the tournament and going to play other nations after being relegated,” he said.
“You think a federation like Ireland or France are going to accept that to take a risk? Or is it just because we are Italy?”
Italy, badly affected by injuries, have lost all four of their games in the tournament so far this year.
But Parisse, capped 118 times by his country, doubts whether the second-tier nations could perform as well as they have in recent years.
“I think we need to remember what has happened in the past,” he said.
“We are really respectful of all the nations like Georgia and Romania and at their level they show a lot of progress but they haven’t got the results we have. They haven’t beaten France, they haven’t beaten Ireland twice.
“They haven’t got the historic results we have so we deserve to be here, it’s as simple as that.”
The tournament became the Six Nations in 2000 when Italy joined.
They have beaten Wales, Scotland, France and Ireland, but never beaten England or finished better than fifth in the table.
Wales finished bottom of the table in 2003.