Rugby: The Lelos Win 23-10 Against Spain in Tbilisi

On Saturday, March 3, Georgia’s national rugby team defeated Spain in a full-on game 23-10. It was the sixth consecutive win against Spain by the Lelos; this nickname given by their fans. The victory strengthened Georgia’s first place in the on-going European Championship, strengthening their lead on second-place Romania by 4 points.

Initially, the first half was characterised by two strong defensive lines; with both teams having difficulties scoring a try. Only the Lelos came close to the try line, but were pushed back by the steadfast Spanish team. Georgia’s 9-3 half-time lead was a mere result of goal kicks.

The second half started off on a quicker pace, allowing Georgia to extend their lead with a penalty try. Fans at the Mikheil Meskhi stadium celebrated the dominating Georgian team vehemently, exhibiting the immense importance of rugby in the country. The victory seemed unsecured, yet close. Before the final whistle, the Spanish team sneaked through the impenetrable Georgian defense line and scored a try. A wave of anxiety crept through the crowd, before Giorgi Melikidze relieved their suffering only minutes later, scoring the last try to the 23-10 final score. 

Reporting from the field as a foreign spectator, I was struck by the immense force and discipline of the Georgian rugby team. Their defense system closed off every single opportunity to their opponents, and the moment a Spanish player received the ball, it was a matter of milliseconds until he got rammed by a Georgian defender. 

Speaking to fans, rugby is clearly considered Georgia’s national sport, and this was visible not only by the great media attention, but also by a sold-out stadium. After the game, the crowds walked home with a smile on their faces, which created a celebrative evening vibe in the city of Tbilisi.

Photo source: Levan Verdzeuli, Getty Images

By Benjamin Music

05 March 2018 11:39