Alex Gray travelled to Eastern Europe to get a behind-the-scenes look at Georgia and assess their chances of securing a place in the Six Nations Championship
Georgia’s bid for Six Nations inclusion
Georgia are the coming force in European rugby. The team made history at the 2015 World Cup by winning two games – against Tonga and Namibia – and finishing third in their pool, which meant they automatically qualified for the 2019 tournament in Japan.
They have won six of the last seven Rugby Europe Championships and were unbeaten on their 2016 tour of the Pacific Islands, winning games against Fiji and Tonga and drawing with Samoa.
The Georgians gave Wales a scare last November, restricting the hosts to a 13-7 win in Cardiff, and also packed down against England’s forwards for a scrummaging session during the Six Nations.
Their sustained success and continual improvements in recent years have led to calls for them to be included in the Six Nations. So Alex Gray travelled to Georgia to talk to coach Milton Haig and captain Merab Sharikadze about rugby in the country as well as their desire to become part of the Six Nations. He also gets the views of former England hooker Brian Moore.
You can watch the video below:
Georgia play Italy in Florence on Saturday 10 November and should they win, the calls for them to be included in the Six Nations will no doubt become louder. In Rugby World‘s current issue, Sharikadze says: “Our biggest challenge is to prove to the rugby world that we deserve more home Tests and to make the Six Nations.
“We won’t grow if we don’t get opportunities. We need regular games against stronger teams. We want to go higher and develop, but we don’t get those opportunities. Give us an opportunity. It’s unfair.”
There has long been debate about a promotion-relegation structure between the Six Nations and the Rugby Europe Championship (sometimes described as Six Nations B), but no firm decision looks forthcoming.
Suggestions have included straight promotion and relegation, and a play-off between the bottom team in the Six Nations and the top team in the Rugby Europe Championship.
The situation is complicated by the fact different organisations run the two competitions involved as well as the commercial and financial impacts a change of structure would have.
People will be watching the events of 10 November in Florence with interest.
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