Georgia rugby fans call out
GLOUCESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: Georgia supporters celebrate their win over Tonga during the Group C: Rugby World Cup match between Tonga and Georgia at Kingsholm Stadium Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Gloucester, England, United Kingdom. (Photo by David Jones/Getty Images)

Georgia Rugby; also known as the Lelos, has thus far participated in four successive RWCs since 2003. This year’s RWC will be their fifth and 2019 should be one that improves the credentials of this European rugby-power.

They have also won the Rugby Europe Championship 10 times (2001, 2008, 2009, 2012-16 and 2018). A strong nation, who feature alongside Russia, Italy, and France, as representatives of that continent.

Not to be classed in terms of Tier Two, as more like Fiji, they are the leading side in their respective region. And that will have fans standing tall, shouting “Lelo, Lelo, Sakartvelo!

Like RWC hosts Japan too, they top the list of European region rugby teams; as Japan do within Asia. Georgia sits above the likes of Russia, Germany, Spain, and Portugal. Their biggest competitors for that tile might be Cyprus – a side who would sit comfortably in an expanded Rugby World Cup, of 24 teams.

The Georgian Rugby side is ranked 12th in the current World Rugby standings, and are coached by Milton Haig. Pooled together with Wales, Uruguay, Fiji, and Australia. A tough group, with all four corners of the globe meaning a variety of teams to face for the Georgian men.

Looking at their past they have faced Wales once before and came out with a loss. The Welsh team sit at the top of the International game; placed 4th but recently afforded their first time as number one – if only for one week. That side is assured of progressing far at this tournament and will test Georgia when they begin this 2019 schedule, on Monday, September 23.

Georgia Rugby focus on Pool D opponents

They have played Uruguay five times previously, with three wins and two losses. One of these encounters was at the 2003 RWC. The full-time score was 12-24 in Uruguay’s favour, so that is a result that Georgia wish to reverse in 2019.

Uruguay are currently ranked 19th and are the lowest-ranked team in this pool. A clear objective for Georgia rugby at the 2019 Rugby World Cup. If they can focus on the Sunday, September 29 fixture, it will put the Lelos in a positive position to then continue a winning form, in the follow-up games.

As for Fiji, they have had three games with Georgia, winning one and losing two. Fiji stands in 9th place in World Rugby rankings, which means they are a fearsome opponent for any side in the same pool. The open-style of rugby that the ‘Flying Fijians’ play will vary to the more orthodox style that Georgia rugby are traditionally known for.

If the Lelos can add a more expansive attitude to their gameplan, they could beat Fiji, and give their 2019 aspirations a huge boost.

As for Australia, there is no record of any international matches between the two nations. It means this will be the first time they play each other. Australia is ranked 6th, and have a powerful group that will be a handful for Georgia. It will be up to player’s like center Merab Sharikadz to lead the squad well.

Positive news for Georgia – Mamuka Gorgodze returns

Lelos fan are in a positive mind frame, all looking forward to the World Cup. And that positivity was boosted incredibly, with famed-forward Mamuka Gorgodze announcing his desire to play in another tournament.

Georgia Rugby
Georgia’s number 8 and captain Mamuka Gorgodze (C) lines up with teammates prior to a Pool C match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between Tonga and Georgia at Kingsholm stadium in Gloucester. (Photo credit BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images)

His presence in the team is immense. The current top try scorer from Georgia rugby, Gorgodze will influence the mix of young players and experienced squad members. Milton Haig will be the most pleased, as his inspirational forward will shoulder much of the responsibilities, and can be relied on to manage the pressure that a world cup creates.

He will stand alongside other prominent Georgian players, like Vasil Lobzhanidze, Guram Gogichashvili, and Giorgi Nemsadze. They will be players to feature in any success for the Lelos in Japan. Experience is one positive, as much as the player’s desire to prove that the side deserves higher honours, and recognition from World Rugby.

In reality, Georgia is most hopeful in their match against Uruguay and Last Word on Rugby anticipate shouts of “LELO, LELO SAKARTVELO” from their fans during this RCW. These words mean plenty to the players and mean “try, try, Georgia” – even though the word lelo does not actually translate to try, Georgia rugby fans have adopted it to mean just that.

Positive vibes and the support from locals who adopt Georgia as their team will see the European team perform to their normal high standards. The expectation is high, and this group must put everything into all four games. Do that, and the noise coming from Tbilisi will be heard in Japan.

LELO, LELO, SAKARTVELO!!

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Georgia Rugby compete in Pool D at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Mcee AzuTopshutter will be attending the tournament in Japan, writing for Last Word on Rugby and for Nakuru Rugby.

 

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