Wales 12-13 Georgia: World Rugby ‘cannot ignore’ this result, say victors

Wales 12-13 Georgia: World Rugby 'cannot ignore' this result, say victors


Georgia celebrate beating Wales for the first time

Georgia believe their claim to join European rugby’s elite cannot now be ignored after beating Wales.

Alexander Todua’s try, the cool nerve of Luka Matkava and a dominant scrum clinched a 13-12 win in Cardiff.

On the back of beating Italy in July and pushing Samoa to a within a point, Georgia believe it is time they were granted entry to the Six Nations.

Georgia captain Merab Sharikadze said: “It would be unfair if World Rugby tried to pretend this didn’t happen.”

He added: “It says a lot doesn’t it that we have beaten two top tier sides this year. I hope they [World Rugby] are watching us.

“I’m not arrogant, but I hope they don’t try to ignore what is happening. How can you when something is so obvious.”

While the result was extremely disappointing for Wales, it was history for a proud rugby nation that can trace its rugby roots back to the ancient folk sport of Lelo-burti, from which the national team takes its nickname, Los Lelos.

Georgia have qualified for the World Cup six times and have made the second-tier Rugby Europe Championship almost their own private dominion, winning it 11 times in the last 12 years.

Yet their claims to become part of an annual tier one competition, such as the Six Nations, have fallen on deaf ears.

There has been a reluctance among Europe’s most powerful countries to split the pot even further.

Even if nothing changes soon Georgia will get more chances to press their case, not least the next time they face Wales, in the final pool match at next year’s World Cup in France.

For now, they can bask in this result.

Sharikadze added: “It’s amazing. Beating Italy was amazing, but beating Wales in Wales is unbelievable. It says a lot doesn’t it?

“We have proved many people wrong. For a sportsman there’s no better feeling than proving people wrong. It drives you.

“It’s a great feeling. We’re not world champions, but we have made history. Now people have to look about change.”

Few inside the Principality Stadium could begrudge Georgia their moment.

The venue is becoming a stage of hope for the hopeless.

Players hugged, kissed and cried at the final whistle after a display of sheer guts and determination. There were similar scenes in Cardiff, in March, as Italy celebrated beating Wales in the Six Nations.

Man of the match, Georgia scrum-half Vasil Lobzhanidze, said: “We feel so proud. I am proud of the team and all the Georgian people in rugby.

“We all believed we could win, from the first minute to the last. We’ve made history. We are so proud of ourselves.”

It was especially poignant for head coach Levan Maisashvili, who had a brush with his own mortality last year when he spent two months in hospital on a ventilator after contracting Covid-19.

This was his moment to revel in his recovery and the work he has since done.

“Maybe we are not as skillful as others, or as powerful, but we have a bigger fight in our hearts than anyone,” he said.

“We had self-belief and we were patient, but most of all, we played for each other.

“We are a small country and we need examples, like these boys who have created history.”

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