With the November Tests now done and dusted for most teams, we look at the state of affairs in each of the competing sides. Next, Georgia.
Three matches were on the international schedule for Georgia this November and two of those ended in defeat, against Japan in Tbilisi and Scotland in Kilmarnock, while they overcame Samoa at home either side of those negatives in a respectable month for Milton Haig’s outfit.
They entered November after a solid enough June that saw them beat Tonga and draw with Samoa and with their usual physical style they set about getting off on the right foot against Japan. Unfortunately they met Lomano Lemeki and Kotaro Matsushima in fine form, losing 28-22.
Losing to the Brave Blossoms is no longer an embarrassing result, as many nations are finding out, and Georgia hit back admirably against Samoa the following week. A 20-16 victory inspired by their pack, in particular at scrum time, saw the Georgians return to winning ways.
At times their scrum was simply devastating and Scotland found that out in the Kilmarnock clash, with the likes of Levan Chilachava, Jaba Bregvadze and Mikheil Nariashvili getting on top at the set-piece. Still though their game remains weak in other areas such as defensively in the wider channels and also with ball in hand where they struggle to launch imaginative and also sustained periods of attacking rugby.
More games against Tier 1 nations has been the drive for several years now and it’s no surprise they come unstuck when they face Scotland and other Six Nations and Rugby Championship teams.
In the past 12 months they have faced Germany, Spain, Romania, Portugal, Russia, Fiji, Samoa (twice), Tonga, Japan and Scotland, meaning they of course struggle to make the next step as a competitive team against the big boys.
Haig recently spoke exclusively to Planet Rugby about their ongoing hopes of one day soon joining the Six Nations, stressing “give us an opportunity, because we think we’re ready for it”.
54,000 fans watched them take on Romania which illustrates the hunger for rugby in the country and Haig is confident that wheels are in motion.
If and when it happens, Georgia will further close the gap on those above them.