Rugby Six Nations: Georgia Wants to Join World’s Elite

Prior to Georgia’s first meeting with Wales this Saturday, coach Milton Haig expressed hope for gaining a victory that could mean a place in the Six Nations. 

"The Six Nations is what we need," He said at a conference this week in Tbilisi. 

This idea would have been laughed at a few years ago, but, now in 12th place in the World Rugby rank table, they are a place ahead of Italy. 

"We have talked about it for three years, it is what we need to improve our game.” 

After an impressive 54-22 victory over Canada in their match last Saturday, Georgia hopes to earn a place in the top of the table among teams like England and New Zealand. 

Haig believes Georgia are "going the right way" to securing a place in the competition. 

"We would love the opportunity. But we understand we need to keep putting runs on the board to gain that credibility." 

"But also, geographically, it is the place we naturally fit. So we are just hoping we get that opportunity one day, and I know the new CEO of the RFU [Steve Brown] has said they want to be open-minded, which is absolutely fantastic.” 

"I am not sure on the logistics, it depends on the six partners already involved, but you could imagine it would be part of an expansion to the Six Nations, rather than promotion and relegation.” 

Although Georgia and Wales have never played each other, they are set to meet often in the next two years. Saturday will see their first clash on Wales’ home turf, and they will also meet in the first stage of the 2019 world cup. 

"To play Wales, an iconic team and an iconic stadium, we are pretty rapt," he said. 

"Because of the World Cup draw, it adds more interest. We have always wanted these types of matches to help us improve, and we are very grateful to Wales for giving us this opportunity. 

"The boys have been talking about it for a long time.” 

"Wales are constantly in the top six in the world, so this is a great challenge for us. 

The head of Pro14 (annual rugby union competition involving professional sides from Ireland, Italy, Scotland, South Africa and Wales), Martin Anayi, said that “discussions will continue” regarding the expansion of the competition. Haig is hopeful that Georgia will make it in. 

"In the long run, we want as many of our players as possible playing in the best competitions in the world," he said. 

"We don't mind which hemisphere that is, but again, geographically, you would think being in a northern hemisphere competition would suit us better, which it would. 

"That is all we are looking at. We are saying 'look, we are constantly searching for competitions that our players can play in, that will improve our individual play', for when we come together collectively as a national team. 

Rugby is currently Georgia’s most popular sport and it is inspiring the younger generation. 

"Interest levels in rugby continue to grow in Georgia, and we want that to continue. It is the most popular sport in the country now. 

"Watching our 14, 15 and 16-year olds, it is scary, it is like watching the All Blacks coming through and we want more of that."

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By Tom Day

16 November 2017 12:38
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