The Lelos’ second row forward Lasha Jaiani will soon return to England and continue his career with Wasps Rugby.
Wasps were founded 153 years ago. The club’s home ground is the 32609-seat Ricoh Arena. They have won the English Premiership six times, the European Champions Cup twice, the Anglo-Welsh Cup three times and European Challenge Cup on two separate occasions also.
The junior Wasps have visited Tbilisi and played warm-up matches against the Junior Lelos. Zurab Zhvania has been playing for the club since 2018 and soon he will be joined by the 22-year-old Jaiani.
“I’m extremely happy to be part of such a traditional and successful top class club. It’s an honour to get the opportunity and I’m really excited to get started. Playing for Wasps will enable me to take a step up in my professional career. I am committed to establishing myself in the team,” said Jaiani.
Development in England
Lasha Jaiani started his rugby career in Tbilisi-based Chokhosnebi R.C. In 2016 he moved to England, where he played first at Whitgift School and then Exeter University in BUCS Super Rugby. The experience gained in England helped him make his way into the Georgia Under 18 and Under 20 national teams, and ultimately, the Georgian National Team – The Lelos:
“When I arrived in the UK, I was fairly slight. We had a very good S&C coach and great training facilities. During this period I developed as a sportsman and gained a lot of size and strength. Our University team would frequently get visits from the Exeter Chiefs players, including their Second Rows, who delivered position-specific training sessions to us and shared with us their experiences, which helped me considerably with my development. I regularly played in a high-level Competition and gradually progressed toward professional rugby,” remembers Jaiani from his time spent in Exeter.
Past experiences have also helped Lasha. After successful performances in the Autumn Nations Cup, Lasha was contacted by his Agent as well as his former coach, who used to play for Wasps and still has a good relationship with the club. Wasps were looking for an experienced international-level second rower and Jaiani was a great fit.
“I spoke to the Wasps coaching staff to find out more about their style of play and training structure. I also had a conversation with my Agent as well as Zurab Zhvania. I also consulted Levan Maisashvili and Ilia Maisuradze; everyone advised me to sign the contract because this would be very good for my development.”
“I know I am going to have strong competition, and this is great, because I will have to work hard and gain more experience working against top level competition. I travelled to England on December 28; I am committed to establishing myself firmly in the team. I understand I’ll have to prove myself and and will get my chances if I distinguish myself.“
Rich experience and confidence
After successful performance with Junior Lelos (Georgia U18, U20), Jaiani was invited to join the senior national team at the senior national team’s pre-Rugby World Cup training camp. Back then, he did not make it into Georgia’s Rugby World Cup squad.
On February 22, 2020, Lasha had a full international debut against Belgium; shortly after he played against Portugal, and at Autumn Nations Cup he took part in all four matches and, as he says, this gave him confidence:
“For me personally this was the most important match in my career: I had to prove I deserved being part of the national team. And signing contract with Wasps today is the result of that Belgium match.“
“As regards the Autumn Nations Cup, this was a top tournament, during which we played against best teams of the world every week. Like every Lelos player, I acquired rich experience. Our decent performance at the tournament is the result of 6 months of training, during which our coaches and other members of the team staff worked very hard“.
“The experience of playing against top rugby players gave me a great deal of confidence. I saw that I could play at this level. This confidence will help me in Wasps. Now I know that playing with or against players of this level is possible, and this will help me moving forward.“