Kris Burton believes Italian outfit Mogliano will benefit greatly from their second successive season in the Amlin Challenge Cup, even though they are yet to win in the competition.
Mogliano were well beaten by Burton’s Newport Gwent Dragons in Round One earlier this month before putting up a spirited showing against French outfit Bordeaux-Begles a week later.
Last season’s National Championship of Excellence winners are still awaiting their first point after eight Amlin Challenge Cup games but Azzuri star Burton is convinced that playing against Europe’s big boys will bring widespread benefits for both Mogliano and the Italian national team.
“You would definitely see it that way. It gives them a chance to play teams of a higher level, teams they wouldn’t normally play against,” said Burton, who kicked 15 points against Mogliano three-and-a-half weeks’ ago.
“These guys are only going to get better the more time they spend playing at a higher level. That can only be of benefit to them.
“It was the same as when Treviso and Aironi came into the Celtic League – you saw the difference in the Italian national team after two years in that competition. Guys get used to playing at that level and then the national team starts playing better as a result.”
Burton knows more than most about the Italian game having won 21 caps for the country of his mother’s birth before retiring in May of this year.
The 33-year-old joined I Cavalieri Prato in 2006 and then spent three seasons with Treviso before heading to Newport in the summer.
And, having seen how Italian Rugby has developed from the ground up following his move from his native Australia via Orleans in France, Burton believes having clubs such as Mogliano, Prato and Calvisano featuring in the Amlin Challenge Cup will give up and coming players another reason to take their rugby seriously.
“It’s definitely a good thing at grass-roots level as well,” added Burton.
“All the players want to play at the highest level and on the European stage.
“If you get these two opportunities with the Heineken and the Amlin, you get guys who are really pushing to take part in those competitions because then they’ll get the chance to play against some of the top players in the world.”