Georgia hope to learn from 'big opportunity' in Autumn Nations Cup

Julian Guyer
·2-min read
Georgia captain Merab Sharikadze, in action at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, will lead the team against England
Georgia captain Merab Sharikadze, in action at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, will lead the team against England

Georgia coach Levan Maisashvili said Thursday that success for his side in the forthcoming Autumn Nations Cup would be about far more than raw results.

The Lelos, starved of elite opposition outside of World Cups, face the daunting task of starting the new tournament against Six Nations champions England at Twickenham on Saturday before facing Wales and Ireland on successive weekends.

"It's difficult to say what will be success, we cannot measure from wins or losses because we are starting against one of the strongest teams in the world," said Maisashvili, whose side only joined an event featuring Europe's Six Nations and Fiji after Japan pulled out due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"We are playing at Twickenham, it's a big opportunity for us to play in such a big tournament," he also told a conference call. 

Georgia's only two previous Tests against England -- 84-6 and 41-10 defeats -- came at the 2003 and 2011 World Cups respectively.

"We will look to take from the experience. We never have such an opportunity in such a small time-frame against so many strong teams. Every year, we have only two games against Tier One countries."

Having long dominated Europe's second tier, there have been calls for Georgia to replace Italy in the Six Nations -- the Azzurri have not won a match in the tournament since 2015 -- or at least have a chance of qualifying via a play-off.

But a wary Maisashvili said: "It's not for me the measure of whether we play in the Six Nations or not. It's a first opportunity for us and we need time. It's not an excuse, but we need time.

"Who knows what will happen? But one thing I exactly promise, Georgia will fight in every game."

For all their renowned scrummaging strength, the scale of the task facing Georgia was demonstrated by their 48-7 loss away to Scotland last month.

"Until that game, a big game, there was an eight-month gap (from Georgia's last major match)," Maisashvili said.

"It's not an excuse for me or the team -- I'm not happy because we had a couple of opportunities and we missed those opportunities, but also we had issues at the maul and the breakdown.

"It's obvious, because a lot of players who are based in Georgia, they hadn't played since February. That's a reason."

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