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Introducing… Georgia

Introducing… Georgia

Georgia Autumn Nations Series

Georgia are one of the most exciting prospects in world rugby and head into the Autumn Nations Series looking to claim their second tier one scalp four months after their first.

The 28-19 win over Italy in July felt like a seminal moment in Georgian rugby, the culmination of years of continued improvement.

A positive result against Wales on 19 November would truly elevate their reputation as a team who can compete with the best in the world.

And going into a World Cup year, even an admirable defeat would imbue Georgia with the confidence they can make it past the pool stage for the first time in their history.

Analysis

Georgia’s record in the Rugby Europe Championship – unbeaten in 25 games and winning ten of the last 11 titles – suggests they are the dominant team at that level.

And having claimed that elusive win over a tier one nation at the 243rd attempt, it feels like Georgia are very much a team on the rise.

The future looks blindingly bright for the Lelos with 18 of the 34-man squad for the summer Tests against Argentina XV, Portugal and Italy aged under 25.

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Their Under-20 side picked up a massive 55-17 bonus-point win over Scotland in the Summer Series and their Under-18s won their fourth consecutive age-grade Rugby Europe Championship.

And gone are the days that Georgia are only known for having scores of gnarled and grisly forwards, although they still have bruisers in abundance.

Key players

Davit Niniashvili

One such player shattering preconceptions of Georgian Rugby is 20-year-old back Davit Niniashvili.

The youngster, who is at home anywhere in the back three, is turning heads across Europe with his razor sharp performances for Lyon in the Top 14.

Niniashvili was named Player of the Match twice on the way to winning the European Challenge Cup in May and picked up the same award in their unforgettable win over Italy.

His scintillating performance in July captured everything the then-teenager has to offer: searing pace, an astute rugby brain and a tireless work ethic.

Beka Saghinadze

Niniashvili’s Lyon teammate Beka Saghinadze is the latest forward gem off the Georgian conveyer belt and the flanker has been a key cog in Lyon’s pack since his move from Aurillac in 2021.

Saghinadze was earmarked as a star in the Pro D2 destined for great things and now the young loose forward is delivering in the French top flight.

The 23-year-old has already matched his two-try haul from last season and is renowned for his aggression both at the breakdown and in the tackle.

Tedo Abzhandadze

Fly-half Tedo Abzhandadze crossed the whitewash twice against Italy in July, bagging a 20-point tally in the 28-19 triumph.

The 23-year-old already has 33 caps to his name and was impressive for Brive over 10 appearances in the Top 14 last season.

If he goes to the World Cup next year, as expected, it will be his second, having made his international debut as a 19-year-old.

Gela Aprasidze

Yet another talented young back plying his trade in France, Gela Aprasidze deputises at scrum-half for Top 14 champions Montpellier.

His pair of late long-distance penalties sent them through to the final after replacing Benoit Paillaugue in the clash against Bordeaux-Begles.

With first-choice South African Cobus Reinach ruled out towards the back end of last season, Aprasidze stepped up admirably with dynamism, sharpness and a rocket powered boot.

Schedule

Georgia face Wales at Principality Stadium on Saturday 19th November, as the third of Wayne Pivac’s four Autumn Nations Tests.

The teams have only met each other three times previously, with an 18-0 Wales victory in the 2020 Autumn Nations Cup the most recent encounter.

Prior to that encounter, they will take on Uruguay and Samoa in Tbilisi.

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