Georgia’s rugby team The Lelos to play in Eight Nations

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The FINANCIAL — Georgian Rugby Union confirmed on September 10 that as a result of negotiations, it was finally decided that Georgian national rugby team – the Lelos – will take part in the “Autumn Nations Cup 2020” from the second half of November this year, where they will have the honor to play world rugby grandees such as England, Ireland, Wales and others. Georgia has been invited to replace Japan, which declined to participate in due to COVID-19 pandemic related reasons. In addition, Georgia will finally get the chance to stake their case for a permanent sport in the Six Nations,

In recent months as the scale of the challenge presented by the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, it became apparent that fulfilling the traditional Autumn International fixtures would not be possible particularly as a result of travel restrictions preventing certain international teams from competing in scheduled fixtures. This newly created tournament will replace the traditional Autumn International window for 2020 and ensures rugby fans all over the world will be treated to top class international rugby this Autumn. The format for the Autumn Nations Cup will be two pools of four – Group A will include England, Ireland, Wales and Georgia with Group B comprising of France, Scotland, Italy and Fiji. The action gets underway over the weekend in November kicking off with the mouth-watering clash of Ireland and Wales at The Aviva Stadium on the Friday. This will be followed on Saturday by England V Georgia and Italy V Scotland, while on Sunday France will entertain Fiji. 

The tournament will get underway on Friday 13 November as Ireland host Wales in Pool A at the Aviva Stadium, though home games for Wales, France, Georgia and Fiji still need to be determined because of the coronavirus pandemic. For the first time in history, England will take on Georgia outside of a Rugby World Cup, with Eddie Jones’ side set to take on the Rugby Europe Championship outfit on the opening weekend of the tournament. Having long hammered at the door of Europe’s elite competition, Georgia will finally get the chance to stake their case for a permanent sport in the Six Nations, while Fiji will also be brought in from the cold following their impressive showing at the Rugby World Cup last year, The Independent reported. 

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Ben Morel, CEO Six Nations Rugby said ‘we cannot wait for the tournament to get underway in November and fans can look forward to some outstanding matches featuring some of the greatest players in the world’. ”We are especially pleased to be joined by Fiji and Georgia and expect them both to be tremendous additions to the competition“, he added.

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili made a statement and congratulated the Georgian rugby team on the opportunity to participate in the prestigious international tournament “Autumn Nations Cup”, which is a historic and forward step for Georgian rugby. “I also congratulate the Georgian fans. I wish our team a decent competition and victories” – She added. PM Gakharia also made a comment and said that the national rugby team has been given a unique chance to take part in the Eight Nations – the most well-known tournament and this will be the greatest success of Georgian rugby. He also added that in this top-level competition the Georgian team will have the opportunity to prove that rugby is truly ‘our’ game. Ruling Georgian Dream party chairman Bidzina Ivanishvili, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze and other officials have also congratulated the national rugby team.

While due to the Coronavirus pandemic, which has caused many problems all over the world, including sports and, in particular, rugby, almost all international tournaments and test matches have been canceled, even domestic championships have not even started in most countries, being invited to a tournament of this level . Today, the dreams of many generations and fans of the Georgian rugby community have been fulfilled, the selfless work and dedication of players, coaches and specialists of all generations have been appreciated. Participation in such a tournament is in itself a great honor and recognition of Georgian rugby. In the long run, this will give us a chance to get closer to the “6 nations” and one day join this one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world. By participating in this competition, we will gain invaluable experience in terms of both sports and tournament management. “Autumn Nations Cup 2020” will bring a lot of children to the rugby fields in Georgia and will have a serious impact on the development of rugby in our country in the future, Georgia Rugby Union wrote. 

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Georgian rugby union expressed their great gratitude and thanked everyone who supported them. They stated that without the growing financial support of the Government of Georgia over the years, success would have been unimaginable. They also said that the merit of the Cartu Charitable Foundation and its founder Mr. Bidzina Ivanishvili in the development and advancement of Georgian rugby deserves special mention. His multimillion-dollar investments in rugby infrastructure and many other projects around the world have been unique, not to be overlooked by World Rugby, and in 2014, at the annual awards ceremony, Mr. Bidzina was awarded a special prize for his outstanding contribution to rugby development. They also thanked fans for standing by, for their loyalty and patience.

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