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The Underdogs: Georgia

The Underdogs: Georgia

Georgia takeaways

Eight years on from their best-ever Rugby World Cup finish, Georgia will be eager to make history again, but first, they will have to navigate a tough test in the Summer Nations Series. 

Georgia beat Tonga and Namibia to finish third in Pool C in 2015, and after another strong showing in Japan, they will fancy their chances when they battle it out with Australia, Wales, Fiji and Portugal in France later this year.

Levan Maisashvili’s side will prepare for France with a trip to Scottish Gas Murrayfield to take on Scotland in the Summer Nations Series.

The match will act as a litmus test for where both sides stand, with just under two months to go before the start of the tournament.

So, ahead of a fascinating fixture, let’s take a closer look at what Georgia have to offer in the Summer Nations Series.

The Coach – Levan Maisashvili

It is fair to say that Georgia and Black Lion coach Maisashvili has had a one-of-a-kind build-up to the 2023 Summer Nations Series.

After proving himself as Georgia’s defence coach and interim coach, the future looked bright for Maisashvili when he took on the top job in 2020.

However, things took a horrific turn for the worse. He contracted Covid-19 in 2021 and was admitted to a Johannesburg hospital with serious lung damage before being put on a ventilator.

Miraculously, he recovered and has since gone on to work miracles with Georgia’s national team.

His remarkable journey culminated with a historic 13-12 Test victory over Wales at the Principality Stadium in last year’s Autumn Nations Series.

And with the Rugby World Cup and Summer Nations Series fast approaching, Maisashvili will get another chance to work some magic on the international stage.

Star Player – Guram Gogichashvili 

Guram Gogichashvili has established himself as one of Europe’s brightest young prospects over the last two seasons.

At 24 years old, the prop has fought his way into Racing 92’s starting XV and played a key role in Georgia’s recent success.

He made 18 appearances in the Top 14 last term and two in the Champions Cup, but his highlight of the last 12 months was undoubtedly that famous victory at Principality Stadium in November.

Georgia are known for their strength in the front row, but Gogichashvili stands head and shoulders above the rest.

One to watch – Davit Niniashvili

Davit Niniashvili’s rise is as strong an indicator as any that Georgia’s best players are no longer confined to just the pack.

The full-back enjoyed an excellent start to the season with Lyon and also played a key role in his national team’s triumphs over Wales last November.

The 21-year-old has shown he can cut through defences like a knife through butter in the Rugby Europe Championship, where he crossed the whitewash against Netherlands and Spain before playing a key role in the wins over Romania and Portugal.

However, Niniashvili is more than just a flair player.

He proved he is reinforced with Georgian steel when he smashed Eben Etzebeth in the 2022 EPCR Challenge Cup final.

Future Prospects 

Georgia’s Under-20s have been improving steadily since 2018, and now their senior side is starting to reap the benefits.

They will still have to overcome the odds against Scotland, but if last autumn’s victory over Wales has proven anything, it is that you should never underestimate this side.

A strong performance against Scotland could act as a big confidence boost ahead of the Rugby World Cup, and the tournament could be a seminal moment for Georgian rugby.

Wins over Australia or Wales at a Rugby World Cup would go down in folklore, but Maisashvili’s side will fancy their chances against Fiji and Portugal.

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