Stalwarts bow out as Japan 2019 beckons for Georgia

08-Oct-2015

© Getty Images

By Andrew Hendry www.rugbyworldcup.com

 

EXETER, 8 Oct - England 2015 is a fait accompli for Georgia. For the first time the Lelos have won two matches on rugby's grandest stage, and done all they can to assure third place in Pool C and with it an historic ticket to RWC 2019.

 

An All Blacks victory by any margin over Tonga on Friday night will seal the deal, marking the first time that Georgia will qualify automatically for the next World Cup.

The Lelos’ celebrations, however, kicked off soon after their slimmest of victories by 17-16 over Namibia at Sandy Park on Wednesday night.

 

A FEW BEERS

 

"I think we'll start with a few beers to warm up, and then afterwards we'll see," said second row Levan Datunashvili.

 

The 32-year-old second row has played his third and final World Cup for Georgia, racking up over 70 caps in a long career.

 

"We're in England so we have to try a little bit of whisky as well,” he added.

 

Despite playing his last World Cup, Datunashvili said the Georgian coaching staff have asked him to stick around for a while longer.

 

"I think I will still play a few more matches with the Georgian team. And after that, when I do stop, I will become their No 1 supporter."

 

BOWING OUT

 

Datunashvili said the Namibia game was especially emotional for his teammates, with a number of senior players taking part in their final World Cup.

Prop Davit Zirakashvili (pictured above) is retiring entirely from international rugby, having played his last game for the Lelos against Namibia.

 

"In my position, Georgia is not lacking in players to take my place,” he said. "I wouldn't abandon my country if that was the case. Of course it's sad for me to leave, but everything must come to an end.

 

“I will miss it a lot, but I have a family who I want to spend more time with now. It’s a natural progression in life."

 

SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL

 

Zirakashvili said he was especially proud to see how far Georgian rugby had come during his time in international rugby.

 

"Georgia came along to the World Cup for the first time in 2003, and now in 2015 we're in the top 12 teams at the World Cup.

 

"It's really something beautiful for a small country like Georgia. I hope in the coming years that we will climb into the top 12, top 10 or top eight."

 

One of the players who will be around for Japan in 2019, 25-year-old prop Mikheil Nariashvili, said Georgia must not become complacent and should set its sights even higher.

 

"We're going to celebrate because, for a small country like Georgia, we have written our page in history,” Nariashvili said.

 

"Now we want to continue working and aim even higher."

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