State of the Nation: Georgia

Date published: July 2 2016

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With the June internationals now done and dusted, we take a look at the state of affairs in each of the competing nations. Next up, Georgia.

While England were being credited with restoring the pride of the Northern Hemisphere, due to their 3-0 series whitewash against the Wallabies in Australia, Georgia were going quietly about their business on their tour of the Pacific Islands. Just like the Six Nations champions, they also ended their tour with an unbeaten record.

The Eastern Europeans kick-started their series of Tests with a draw against Samoa, before claiming a narrow victory over Tonga in their next match and they ended their tour with a hard-fought triumph over Fiji in Suva.

What made those performances even more remarkable was the fact that they played without their talismanic captain and back-row forward Mamuka Gorgodze who missed the tour due to club commitments with Toulon in the Top 14.

But while "Gorgodzilla" was gone others stepped up to the plate and players like captain Shalva Sutiashvili and full-back Merab Kviriashvili's experience proved invaluable on the tour.

Georgia's forward play has always been their strength and they pride themselves on their performances in the set-pieces, especially their scrummaging which has gained a reputation as one of the strongest in the international game.

Those performances were a continuation on several impressive showings at last year's Rugby World Cup, where they finished the pool phase of the competition with victories over Tonga and Namibia, as well as a credible performance in their loss to the eventual champions, New Zealand.

Although they missed out on qualification to the play-offs at the global showpiece, Georgia showed that they are a competitive unit who can hold their own against more fancied sides.

Georgia's impressive World Cup performances and their dominance of the European Nations Cup in recent seasons – they have won the latter competition for the past six years – has led to calls for the Lelos to be added to the Six Nations.

But John Feehan, the chief executive of the Six Nations, dismissed those calls before the start of this year's European Nations Cup.

"It is not [our] job to provide solutions for Georgia, Romania or anyone else," he said.

"Economically, even if not so much on the field, the Six Nations are doing fine, thanks very much."

That response was a setback for Georgia but their fine showings on their tour to the Pacific Islands will surely lead to those calls for their inclusion in the Six Nations, growing louder.

One can only hope that World Rugby gives them a chance at Europe's main table as excluding the Lelos goes against the game's governing body's policy of growing the game globally.

Read the rest of our State of the Nation pieces following the June Tests right here.

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