Georgia's victory over Tonga rivals 1981 Cup Winners’ Cup triumph


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BRISTOL, 20 Sept - In 1981 the Georgian capital of Tbilisi erupted in celebration as its most prominent football team, Dinamo Tbilisi, then part of the Soviet Top League, defeated FC Carl Zeiss Jena to claim the prestigious UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. It remains the greatest achievement in Georgian club football to date.


Here at Rugby World Cup 2015, Georgia’s second-rower Giorgi Nemsadze believes his team’s 17-10 victory over Tonga on Saturday has created just as big a buzz in the nation’s capital.


 “In 1981, our football team won the Cup Winners’ Cup, and now everyone is saying this victory against Tonga is creating the same emotion throughout Georgian cities,” Nemsadze said on Sunday, as he and his teammates enjoyed a well-earned rest following the herculean defensive effort that held off the Tongans on Saturday. 




“We aren’t there to see and enjoy the celebrations back home ourselves, which is a shame, but everyone there is talking about us, they are smiling and full of emotion for what we have achieved.”


Georgia’s coaching staff gave the players a day off on Sunday, allowing them to celebrate their win the previous night.


“We went out into town in Bristol last night,” said flanker Viktor Kolelishvili. “We had two or three beers, the whole team together. But it wasn’t anything huge because our job here is not yet finished.”




Mamuka Gorgodze, man of the match with a try and 27 tackles, said the win against Tonga was undoubtedly the biggest victory in Georgia’s history at the tournament, as well as for him personally.


“I spoke with my parents and friends and they said all of Tbilisi, which is quite a large city with over one million people, were sounding their car horns, waving their flags, drinking and celebrating,” he said. "There was a lot of emotion."


“For me, it’s the best victory of my career. We beat Samoa in Georgia in 2013, but at a World Cup we have never beaten such a big and strong team as Tonga.”




Coach Milton Haig said that while he and his staff probably enjoyed "a few too many" beers, it was important that his charges were also rewarded for their efforts.


“We gave the boys the day off today so they could go out in the town and celebrate last night. We’ve worked pretty hard the last three or four months and we could have gone back and started working again right away, but it’s important to celebrate your victories. Preparation starts tomorrow for the Argentina game.”

Georgian time


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