Georgia aiming to clinch berth at RWC 2019 with victory over Namibia


By Andrew Hendry


EXETER, 5 Oct – If Georgia’s match against New Zealand in Cardiff last Friday was their biggest ever for sheer spectacle, their final game against Namibia is arguably the most important in the history of Georgian rugby.


Victory at Sandy Park on Wednesday night will ensure the Lelos finish third in Pool C and qualify automatically for RWC 2019, a feat they have never previously achieved.


Coach Milton Haig (pictured) said the team and their fans back home fully appreciate what this game means for rugby in the eastern European country.


“We made a lot of new fans because of the heart we showed against New Zealand,” Haig said. “But I said to the boys it will all be worth nothing if we don’t get the job done this Wednesday.


“All the hard work, all the blood, sweat and tears that they’ve shed these past four months in training and playing, will be worth nothing if we don’t finish the job.”


Haig said he had been involved in several important games as a coach but conceded this was the biggest of them all.




“My focus the last four years has been to create history for Georgia, all my thoughts and energy have been going into this moment. So you’re probably right, it is the most important.”


After resting veterans like Merab Kvirikashvili, Giorgi Nemsadze and Davit Zirakashvili for the All Blacks clash, Haig said the starting XV against Namibia would probably mirror the unchanged squad that took on Tonga and Argentina in their opening two games.


“The guys who didn’t play against New Zealand are running around like spring chickens at training now, and that was always the plan to give us the best shot of winning this next game.”


While Georgia’s epic defensive efforts have earned praised, Haig is hoping the Namibia game will enable his team to showcase their offensive abilities.


“Namibia will give us a few more attacking opportunities than the first three teams. We really want to play a good game of rugby, and to do that we want to show not only our defensive qualities but also bring our attack into play.”


He expects Namibia will also look to be enterprising, praising the progression their coach Phil Davies has engineered over the past six months.


“Berger is an absolute leader of men in their group, and their number eight is a very combative carrier and quick, so he’s a danger, too. Their little No 2 is a pocket rocket, and their back three are pretty good as well.


“Namibia like to use the ball and counter-attack. They’ll run the ball from anywhere if they see an opportunity. So defensively we’re going to have to be on our toes. They’ve got a very good maul structure as well.”


Full-back Merab Kvirikashvili said the significance of Wednesday night’s game would be felt throughout Georgia.


“It’s been a while that the Georgian public has been waiting for this match,” he said. “The Namibia game is our most important and there’s going to be a huge atmosphere in the Georgian cities awaiting this match.”

Georgian time


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