The game of Lelo from Shukhuti on Total Rugby

07-Jul-2011 Georgia’s own version of the game, ‘Lelo’ or ‘Leloburti’ (field ball), played in a small village of Shukhuti, Guria - has attracted considerable media attention in the rugby world, lately. Matthew Collin of France Presse - who has covered Georgia’s matches against Russia in Trabzon, as well as the rest of European Nations Cup in the past - was first to write about the game of ‘Lelo’.

Collin’s article tempted International Rugby Board’s Total Rugby TV to visit Georgia and to film the game. The crew headed by assistant producer Lee Jones first attended the Junior World Cup Trophy in Tbilisi. Later, after watching the documentary “Returning the Lelo” which portrays the local game of village Shukhuti in the 1980s, they traveled to Guria meeting the participants of this year’s free-for-all rugby contest. The result - a little TV episode about the ‘Lelo’ tradition was transmitted in 30 countries. Local priest, father Saba Jghenti describes the ceremonial significance of the game, while the contestants discuss the winning tactics In the film.

This year’s game, traditionally held on Easter Sunday, turned into a shared celebration. As father Saba kicked off the 17kg leather ball filled with wine and sand, the men from upper and lower parts of the village Shukhuti clashed fiercely against each other, fighting to get the hold of it. After intense grabbing and pushing, the winning side finally succeeded in getting the ball to the opponent’s half. The jovial day concluded with a huge feast.
Georgian time


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