Next stop on our tour of the Autumn Internationals is Georgia. Like many rugby teams, Georgia too have a nickname. The Lelos come from lelo burti, a traditional Georgian sport with similarities to Rugby. The Lelos are considered a second-tier rugby nation, but are growing quickly! Their first match was only a few decades ago in 1989 and they have grown since then. Before 1989 Georgian players were in the Soviet Union team. Georgia participate in the Rugby Europe Championship and have won it 9 times since 2001. A rather impressive display of power over that championship. Only Romania and France (before they joined the 4 nations) have won it more than Georgia.
Rugby is one of the most popular sports in Georgia. Their national team has qualified for the Rugby World Cup four times since 2003. Their first win came in 2007 when they beat Namibia 30- 0. Georgia have an impressive win ratio of 61.08% winning 124 of their 203 matches. They have beaten World Cup regulars Canada, Fiji, Japan, Portugal, Samoa and Tonga. But they have never beaten any members of the 6 Nations or 4 Nations in the southern hemisphere. They are currently ranked 12 in the IFU rankings- so let’s expect some fireworks from them in the future!
Georgian National Anthem – Tavisupleba – Freedom.
This anthem was adopted in 2004 along with their flag and coat of arms. This anthem was a hit with the country as the previous anthem was known to be a bit archaic and difficult to memorise. The anthem is played at the opening and closing of the Parliament of Georgia as well as their rugby and football matches.
ჩემი ხატია სამშობლო,
სახატე მთელი ქვეყანა,
თავისუფლება დღეს ჩვენი
მომავალს უმღერს დიდებას,
ცისკრის ვარსკვლავი ამოდის
ამოდის და ორ ზღვას შუა ბრწყინდება,
და დიდება თავისუფლებას,
Our icon is the homeland
Trust in God is our creed,
Enlightened land of plains and mounts,
Blessed by God and holy heaven.
The freedom we have learnt to follow
Makes our future spirits stronger,
Morning star will rise above us
And lightens up the land between the two seas.
Glory to long-cherished freedom,
Glory to liberty!
Georgia have 2 matches in this year’s Autumn Internationals. They faced Canada a few days and won. Next up is Wales. A good performance from them could see them again in the Autumn Internationals, or even see them take a seat in the 6 Nations as they are currently higher ranked than Italy. The future is looking bright for them, and we wish them luck in their campaign!