Georgian Lelos are set to start their 2021 international season with Rugby Europe 2020 Championship final round match against Russia in Tbilisi. Test-match, which was postponed twice last year due to COVID 19 safety regulations will take place on February 7 (venue to be confirmed soon).
Upcoming match will be the 24th encounter between Georgia and Russia. The teams first met in 1993; back then, Russia won 15-9. In 2002, in Tbilisi, Georgia ended the Rugby World Cup 2003 qualifier against Russia in a tie and qualified for the world’s biggest rugby stage for the first time. As for the remaining 21 encounters, Georgia won them all; of these – 18 wins went in a row [tries: 66/16; points: 579/260].
Georgia has already secured its 12th Rugby Europe 2020 Champion title in round four. The tournament (known as European Nations Cup until 2015), which is being played since 2000, has produced three champions – Romania, Portugal and Georgia on 18 occasions, as from 2003 to 2008 Champions were revealed within two years season. The Lelos have 104 tests, won 87, made 4 draws and lost 13 matches.
Selection starts on 25th
Georgian National team coaching staff assembled Georgia-based players on January 25th for selection at Shevardeni High Performance Base in Tbilisi. The Lelos’ extended squad will be announced in the end of the month, when the team, including foreign based players, assembles for the preparation week immediately before the Russia game.
As for the selection process, Levan Maisashvili named 22 players:
“We have assembled players who have played for the National Team before and some new faces as well. During this week, we will pay attention to players’ physical and tactical conditions and in a week after we will be able to announce the squad of 30-32 players, which will prepare for the Russia game. Obviously not all of Georgia based players will make it to the final team, but we will also have the foreign based Georgian internationals joining the us.” – says Maisashvili, who is not planning any experiments in the future tests:
“Preparations goes on under tough conditions. Obviously, we have COVID 19 related limitations and we also have some issues with the clubs releasing our foreign based players. The first game is always tough, so we decided to rely on players who participated in Autumn Nations Cup and see how the team will perform in attack.”
Georgia based players for the selection week
Jaba Bregvadze (2), Giori Chkoidze (2), Nodar Cheishvili (4-5), Ioseb Gusharashvili (4-5), Mikheil Gachechiladze (6-8), Nika Sukhashvili (6-8), Giorgi Tkhilaishvili (6-7), Sandro Mamamtavrishvili (6-7)
Giorgi Margalitadze (9), Luka Matkava (10), Giorgi Babunashvili (10), Lasha Khmaladze (10-15), Deme Tapladze (12-13), Merab Sharikadze (12), Lasha Lomidze (12), Sandro Todua (11, 14), Aka Tabutsadze (11, 14), Mirian Modebadze (11, 14, 15), Temur Kokhodze (11, 14), Sandro Svanidze (11, 14), Davit Niniashvili (15), Soso Matiashvili (15).