State of the Nation: Georgia

Date published: November 5 2015

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As we do at the end of a major tournament, we look at the state of affairs in each of the competing nations. Next up, Georgia.

With Japan's heroics, Georgia's World Cup efforts went under the radar, but it was a momentous tournament for the Lelos as they finished third in Pool C.

That meant automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup, and increased calls for them to be included in the Six Nations, or at the very least get the chance to face the tier one nations on a more regular basis.

It kicked off with probably the most important result, a 17-10 win over Tonga in which their scrum and strong carrying up front gave them the platform for the win.

Inspirational skipper Mamuka Gorgodze scored one try and was heavily involved in another, and until his sin-binning they were very much in touch in their second game against Argentina.

That proved a step too far and they conceded 21 points during the ten minutes Gorgodze was off in a big defeat. 

They followed that up with a respectable display against the All Blacks, despite playing a largely second string squad, and finished with a hard-fought win over Namibia to seal third spot in the pool.

Looking ahead they will have to cope with the retirement of star tighthead Davit Zirakashvili, but if there is one place they aren't short of quality, it's in the front-row.

Gorgodze might not be there in four years' time either, and he will be tougher to replace, but the promising aspect was that their squad featured a number of very young backs.

None was more impressive than Vasil Lobzhanidze, their 18-year-old scrum-half, who became the youngest player in the tournament's history and looked good every time he played.

Georgia continue to produce top-quality front five forwards, and also look to have a couple of very handy flankers in Giorgi Tkhilaishvili and Viktor Kolelishvili.

Milton Haig wants to continue in his role, and after the success of the tournament, it would seem to be the logical move to help the side progress.

He has been outspoken on what needs to happen off the pitch for Georgian rugby to develop further. Georgia have the home support, as well as an U18 side which reached the final of the European Championships, knocking out Ireland and Italy along the way.

The future is bright, provided the rest of the rugby world helps Georgia get the competitive rugby it needs.

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