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Rugby union in Georgia

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Rugby union in Georgia

Rugby union in Georgia
Romania in the Rugby World Cup 2011
Country Georgia
Governing body Georgia Rugby Union
National team Georgia
Nickname(s) Lelos
First played 1928
Registered players 6000 [1]
Clubs 41
National competitions

association football.


  • Governing body 1
  • History 2
    • Prehistory 2.1
    • Soviet period 2.2
    • Post-independence 2.3
  • Competitions 3
  • Popularity 4
  • National team 5
    • World Cup 5.1
    • European Nations Cup 5.2
    • The Antim Cup 5.3
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Governing body

The governing body for rugby union in Georgia is the International Rugby Board (IRB) in 1992.[2]



Like some other rugby playing nations, the popularity of the game in Georgia can be traced back to a pre-existing Georgian folk sport, called [2][3] In fact, even within Georgian rugby terminology, the word lelo is used to mean a try.

Lelo was played in Georgia from ancient times and is still played on occasions in rural areas. A field ("Lelo") was selected between two river creeks which represented a playing ground. Two teams, usually consisting of the male population of neighboring villages, would face each other, with the local priest acting as the referee. The number of players from each side was not set, but included any able men each village could summon. A large, heavy ball was placed in the middle of the field and the goal of the game was to carry it over the river creek of the opposing side.

Soviet period

During the Soviet period, the Georgians regularly had six or seven players in the Zimbabwe side.[2]

There were several unsuccessful attempts to introduce rugby into Georgia, the earliest known being in 1928, with subsequent attempts also in 1940 and in 1948. Rugby was introduced to Georgia by Jacques Haspekian, an

In 1961, a three team domestic competition was formed, called the Tbilisi Championship. The following year the first match between a Georgian team and a Russian team took place, with Trud Moscow defeating the Georgian club. That year Georgia clubs also went on their first tours, going to Russia and Latvia.

In 1962, the first Soviet Trade-Union tournament was held. In the same year, ten new rugby teams were established in Georgia.[4]

In 1964 the Tbilisi Rugby Section became known as the Georgia Rugby Federation. From the mid-1960s, the USSR team.

A Moscow team won the first Soviet Championship, though Dymano from Tbilisi came in second place. In 1967 a French trade-union selection visited Georgia. It would not be until 1978, in the Soviet Cup (which was introduced in 1976) that a Georgian team would finish first, which was Locomotivi from Tbilisi. Georgian teams dominated the Soviet Championship and the Soviet Cup in the late 1980s with first national sevens side.


The break-up of the Soviet Union led to a civil war, which helped set back the game greatly, and the recent

  • (Georgian) Georgia Rugby Union (official site)
  • Unofficial Georgian rugby union webpage
  • Georgian rugby union news from Planet Rugby
  • Georgia on the Rise in International Rugby
  • Exclusive attributes of Georgia Rugby

External links

  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d e f Bath p67
  3. ^ Richards Chapter 1 Fons et Origo, p27; Chapter 15 Going Forward, p291
  4. ^ Louis, p39
  5. ^ a b c d e f Richards, Chapter 14 Journeys without Maps, p260
  6. ^ a b c Richards, Chapter 14 Journeys without Maps, p270
  7. ^ Richards, Chapter 14 Journeys without Maps, p271
  • Bath, Richard (ed.) The Complete Book of Rugby (Seven Oaks Ltd, 1997 ISBN 1-86200-013-1)
  • Louis, Victor & Jennifer Sport in the Soviet Union (Oxford Pergamon, 1980, ISBN 0-08-024506-4)
  • Richards, Huw A Game for Hooligans: The History of Rugby Union (Mainstream Publishing, Edinburgh, 2007, ISBN 978-1-84596-255-5)


  • Georgia Rugby Union
  • Georgia national rugby union team
  • Georgia at the Rugby World Cup
  • Rugby league in Georgia

See also

The Antim Iverianul, who came from Georgia.

Antim Cup

The Antim Cup

The European Nations Cup is a second-level competition for tier-two European nations. Initially started as a one-year competition, the championship is now decided over two years with each team playing each other on a home and away basis. Georgia have won the competition on eight occasions, in 2001, 2008-9 and 2011-15.

European Nations Cup Prior to the

2007 Rugby World Cup.

World Cup

The Lelos (as they are nicknamed) are the national rugby union team of Georgia. The team's name comes from European Nations Cup, which is a second-level competition for European national teams. The majority of the national side are based in France, in the lower divisions, having been sent there to improve their rugby skills and facilitate their development by coach Claude Saurel.

National team

Rugby union is one of the most popular sports in Georgia. Rugby is especially popular in the south of the country where the game is more popular than Russia in the European Nations Cup, 65,000 people crammed into the national stadium in Tbilisi and another 44,000 watched Georgia beat Russia 17-13.


The Heineken Cup and the European Challenge Cup.


[7] in World Cup rugby as a talented international lawyer with the ability to speak several languages fluently.Renaissance Man who was considered something of a Ilia Zeguinidze and captain [6] Notable players include

[6], 18 of 25 players on the squad were based in France.Ireland against 2007 Rugby World Cup For example, in the qualifiers for the [6] As Georgia is a member of the

Crowds as large as 10-15,000 regularly attend local derbies in Tbilisi.[2]

In 1994 the Gumari were formed, being the Georgian Barbarians, and they went onto tour France. The following year saw the inauguration of the Sini competition. Their 1998 loss to European Nations Cup, and became the 7th highest ranked team in Europe. They subsequently got through the qualifying stages for the next World Cup, and made it to Australia for the 2003 Rugby World Cup. They also qualified for the 2007 World Cup and went on to win their first World Cup match.

The wife of another coach had stayed up half the night making them.[5] This was not atypical. In the early 1990s, the Georgians had converted old Soviet era tractors into scrum machines.

"They were of denim material, obviously stitched together on a domestic sewing machine and stuffed with rubber."[5]

In 1997, New Zealand coach Ross Meurant found the national team had only two practice balls, when he went to advise the Georgia Under-19 squad.[5] This was typical of the lack of resources that the Georgians faced. Meurant said that the tackle bags that they were using were improvised:

The following year, Georgia played their first international match, against CIS team played in the early 1990s) and applied for International Rugby Football Board (now, International Rugby Board) membership. In 1993 the IFRB accepted Georgia as a federation member, making them the 52nd member.

[5] It took two years for the IRB to admit them in 1990, after consultation with the Soviet Federation.[5]

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