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Rugby in Georgia: The Lelos’ Ascent in World Rugby

Rugby ball on the field with stadium in the background.

Are you eager to explore the rising stars of world rugby? The Lelos, Georgia’s national team, are climbing up the ranks and turning heads in the rugby community. This blog post will journey through their storied past, present triumphs, and promising future in international rugby.

Get ready to be amazed by Georgia’s passion for the game!

Key Takeaways

  • Georgia’s national rugby team, known as The Lelos, derives its name from the traditional Georgian game Lelo Burti, showcasing a deep connection to the nation’s cultural heritage.
  • Despite facing challenges such as limited opportunities against top-tier teams and exclusion from major competitions due to a so-called “rugby cartel”, Georgia has made impressive strides in international rugby, including reaching their historical highest World Rugby Ranking of 11th place.
  • Notable players like Mamuka Gorgodze and Merab Sharikadze have been central to the team’s achievements and are complemented by promising talents that continue to emerge from within Georgia’s robust rugby programme.
  • Coaches have had a significant impact on the development of The Lelos, leading them through strategic changes and fostering mental conditioning that have contributed greatly to their success on an international level.
  • With plans for enhanced training programmes and tactical adaptations aimed at succeeding in upcoming tournaments like the 2023 World Cup, The Lelos are determined to continue their ascent in world rugby while overcoming obstacles posed by more established teams.

The History of Georgian Rugby

Rugby in Georgia has humble beginnings, with the sport gaining popularity during the Soviet era. However, the Georgian rugby team has faced struggles against what they call a rugby “cartel” that hindered their progression in world rugby.

Humble beginnings

Georgia’s foray into the world of rugby began modestly, with traditional games sowing the seeds. Roots trace back to Lelo Burti, a fierce local sport that mirrors rugby’s physicality and is centuries old.

This historic pastime laid the groundwork for what would become a national passion.

The modern game took shape slowly after Georgia gained independence following the Soviet Union’s collapse. Small clubs emerged across the country, building a foundation from which the beloved Lelos could rise.

With determination and grit, Georgian rugby started its journey upward despite limited resources and recognition on the global stage.

Soviet era and the rise of rugby

During the Soviet era, rugby in Georgia experienced a significant rise in popularity. The sport became deeply ingrained within Georgian culture and garnered widespread support from the public.

Georgia’s national team, The Lelos, emerged as a formidable force during this period, marking the beginning of their ascent in world rugby. As rugby continued to gain momentum across the nation, it played an integral role in shaping Georgia’s sporting identity and contributed to the country’s strong tradition in the sport.

The growth of rugby during this time was pivotal for Georgia’s national team. Despite facing challenges and obstacles, including struggles against what was referred to as a rugby “cartel,” Georgian rugby persevered and continued to thrive under challenging circumstances, ultimately laying a solid foundation for its future success on the international stage.

Struggles against rugby “cartel”

Following the Soviet era, Georgian rugby faced significant barriers due to the control exerted by established rugby nations, often referred to as a “cartel.” Despite their historic successes and growing talent pool, Georgia encountered difficulty in securing regular fixtures against top-tier teams.

This situation limited their exposure and opportunities for growth on the international stage. The exclusion from major competitions and lack of investment created obstacles for Georgia’s national team and hindered the development of rugby within the country.

Georgia’s National Rugby Team – The Lelos

Named after a traditional Georgian dance, the Lelos have become an emerging force in world rugby. With their impressive performances and recent rankings milestones, they are poised to make a mark in the upcoming World Cup tournaments.

Nickname and significance

The Georgian national rugby team is known as The Lelos, a nickname deeply rooted in the country’s rich rugby tradition. The significance of this name lies in its connection to Georgia’s historical game called Lelo Burti, emphasising the team’s strong ties to its cultural heritage and the sport’s enduring popularity within the nation.

As The Lelos continue their ascent in world rugby, their chosen nickname serves as a powerful symbol of national pride and commitment to achieving success on the global stage.

Moving forward to explore The History of Georgian Rugby, we can delve into the humble beginnings and evolution that have shaped this formidable team.

Performance in World Rugby

Having explored the nickname and significance of the Lelos, let’s now turn our attention to their performance on the world stage, a testament to Georgia’s growing influence in the sport.

2003-2019Rugby World CupsCompeted in every tournament since 2003, with the ambition to make a significant impact in the upcoming 2023 World Cup
2015World Cup AchievementsSecured automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup, highlighting Georgia’s enhanced status in rugby
2019World Rugby RankingMade history by reaching 11th place, reflecting the Lelos’ continuous improvement
OngoingEuropean RugbyDominant in the Rugby Europe Championship, often challenging established teams
Recent YearsInternational ToursSuccessful tour of the Pacific Islands, which contributed to Georgia’s increased ranking

Rugby’s popularity in Georgia has surged as a result of these achievements, with the Lelos’ ascent capturing the imagination of fans and aspiring players alike. They continue to strive for greatness, with eyes firmly set on the next World Cup.

Recent Achievements and World Cup Ambitions

Georgia’s national rugby team, the Lelos, have achieved significant milestones in recent years, including their impressive performance at the 2019 World Cup and their steady rise in the World Rugby Men’s Rankings.

With ambitions to make an even bigger impact at the 2023 World Cup, Georgia is a force to be reckoned with on the international rugby stage.

Ranking milestones

Georgia’s national rugby team, The Lelos, has set its sights on breaking into the top 10 of the World Rugby Rankings. The team’s historic rise to 11th in world rugby signals a significant achievement and reflects their ongoing determination to compete at the highest level.

Their exceptional performance on the international stage has put them within touching distance of their long-term goal, with recent wins contributing to their upward trajectory.

Looking ahead, Georgia is firmly focused on surpassing current rankings and establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with in global rugby. As they continue their ascent, the team remains resolute in its mission to challenge traditional powerhouses and make an impact that resonates throughout world rugby.

2019 World Cup performance

Following their exceptional ranking milestones, the Lelos’ performance at the 2019 Rugby World Cup showcased Georgia’s growing prowess in world rugby. The team, ranked 11th in world rugby, displayed determination and skill throughout the tournament, aiming to cause upsets against higher-ranked teams.

Their presence at the World Cup further solidified their status as a force to be reckoned with on the international rugby stage.

With bold ambitions and historical achievements propelling them forward, the Lelos demonstrated their resilience and competitive spirit during the 2019 Rugby World Cup. As they continue to push for excellence in upcoming tournaments, Georgia’s national rugby team remains a formidable contender in global rugby competitions.

Plans for 2023 World Cup

After their impressive performance at the 2019 World Cup, Georgia’s national rugby team has set ambitious plans for the upcoming 2023 World Cup. The team has outlined a detailed strategy to continue their ascent in world rugby and make a mark on the global stage.

  1. Strengthening Squad Depth: The coaching staff aims to nurture young talent and provide more opportunities for emerging players to build a deeper and stronger squad for the 2023 campaign.
  2. Enhanced Training Programmes: Plans include revamping training programmes to further develop player skills, fitness, and tactical understanding, ensuring the team is well-prepared for the challenges ahead.
  3. International Fixture Preparation: Securing competitive international fixtures against higher-ranked teams to gain valuable experience and refine their gameplay before the World Cup.
  4. Tactical Adaptation: Emphasising on adapting tactics and strategies to counter different playing styles of opponents they are likely to face in the tournament.
  5. Mental Conditioning: Integrating sports psychology and mental conditioning into the training regimen to boost confidence, resilience, and composure during high-pressure matches.
  6. Analysing Opponents: A comprehensive analysis of potential opponents’ strengths and weaknesses will be conducted with a focus on developing tailored game plans for each match.
  7. Community Engagement: Continuation of community outreach initiatives to engage fans, inspire young athletes, and foster support for Georgian rugby leading up to the 2023 World Cup.
  8. Injury Prevention & Management: Implementing robust injury prevention protocols while ensuring efficient management of any player injuries that may arise during preparations.
  9. Strategic Partnerships: Forging strategic partnerships with top-tier clubs or leagues to facilitate better development pathways for Georgian players leading into the World Cup.
  10. Team Culture & Unity: Fostering a strong team culture based on mutual respect, discipline, and unity as they strive towards achieving their shared goal of success at the 2023 World Cup.

Notable Players and Coaches

The Georgian national rugby team has seen the rise of notable players and coaches, with a mix of experienced veterans and young talents shaping the future of rugby in Georgia. Read on to discover their impact on the team’s success.

Current squad and recent call-ups

  1. Mamuka Gorgodze – A powerhouse in the forward pack, known for his physicality and leadership on the field.
  2. Merab Sharikadze – The influential captain who brings experience and strategic play to the team’s backline.
  3. Giorgi Nemsadze – A lock forward with an imposing presence and crucial lineout skills.
  1. Akaki Tabutsadze – A promising young prop with a strong scrummaging ability, showcasing potential for the future.
  2. Deme Tapladze – A talented wing with electrifying speed and try-scoring prowess, adding a dynamic edge to the backline.
  3. Kote Mikautadze – A versatile second row player known for his work rate and athleticism, providing crucial support in set-piece plays.

Notable former players

The history of Georgian rugby boasts some remarkable former players who have left a lasting impact on the sport. These individuals have contributed immensely to the growth and success of rugby in Georgia. Here are some of the notable former players:

  1. Mamuka Gorgodze – Known for his powerful performances, he was a key figure in Georgia’s rise in world rugby.
  2. Ilia Zedginidze – A formidable prop, he played a significant role in shaping the physicality and strength of Georgian rugby.
  3. Vasil Lobzhanidze – Made history as the youngest player at a Rugby World Cup, displaying skill and composure beyond his years.
  4. David Kacharava – Regarded as one of Georgia’s most consistent performers, his leadership qualities were invaluable to the team.
  5. Giorgi Nemsadze – A towering presence in the lineout, his contributions were crucial in challenging top-tier teams.
  6. Malkhaz Urjukashvili – Known for his agility and speed, he brought flair to Georgia’s backline play.
  7. Giorgi Chkhaidze – A versatile player with an exceptional work rate, he left a lasting legacy within Georgian rugby.
  8. Davit Kipiani – Instrumental in laying the foundations of Georgian rugby’s attacking prowess, known for his creativity on the field.

Impact of coaches on team success

Transitioning from the legacy of notable former players, the impact of coaches on team success cannot be understated. Georgia’s national rugby team has thrived under the guidance of dedicated coaching staff, leading to milestones that have elevated the team’s position in world rugby.

The coaching staff has played a pivotal role in nurturing and developing some of the best Georgian rugby players who have contributed significantly to the team’s success.

The strategic tactics implemented by the coaching staff have propelled Georgia’s national rugby union team to secure historic victories and climb up the World Rugby Rankings. With their unwavering support and expertise, they have instilled a winning mentality within the players, enabling them to compete at an international level with confidence and resilience.

The Future of Rugby in Georgia

Georgia’s rugby team continues to show promise and potential for growth in the global rugby scene. With a dedicated coaching staff and a talented pool of players, Georgia is poised for continued success in the world of rugby.

Continued growth and potential

The Lelos’ continuous climb in the World Rugby Rankings has put them on the path to further success. With their eye set on breaking into the top 10, Georgia’s national rugby team is poised for even greater achievements.

The recent history-making ranking of 11th and their impressive performance at the 2019 Rugby World Cup demonstrate that The Lelos are a force to be reckoned with on the global stage.

Furthermore, with an increasing international fan base and support, as well as dedicated coaching staff and talented players, Georgia’s rugby future looks bright. As they continue to make waves in world rugby, the potential for growth and continued success is evident.

The Lelos stand ready to make their mark in upcoming tournaments, consolidating their position as fierce competitors.

Challenges and opportunities ahead

Georgia’s national rugby team faces significant challenges and promising opportunities ahead as they strive to break into the top 10 of the World Rugby Rankings. The team must overcome strong competition from established rugby nations like France, Portugal, and the Netherlands while continuing to build on their recent successes in international tournaments.

Alongside these challenges, Georgia has an opportunity to further develop their rugby talent and solidify their position in world rugby by leveraging their rich history and passionate fan base.

With a dedicated coaching staff and a tradition of producing talented players, Georgia can capitalise on this momentum to strengthen its presence in global rugby. As they plan for the upcoming World Cup, the team has a chance to showcase their potential and make history once again, inspiring continued growth and success in Georgian rugby.


In conclusion, the Lelos’ ascent in world rugby has been remarkable. The team’s dedication and talent have propelled them to new heights. With a rich history and recent achievements, Georgia’s national rugby team is poised for even greater success in the future.

As they aim for a top 10 spot, their impact on the global stage continues to grow.


1. Who are the Lelos in world rugby?

The Lelos is the nickname for the Georgia national rugby union team, reflecting their rise in international rugby competitions.

2. What has propelled Georgia’s success in rugby?

Georgia’s ascent in world rugby can be attributed to solid rugby development programs, a dedicated coaching staff, and their ambition to challenge the tectonic plates of global rugby.

3. How does Georgia’s team compare with other European teams like France or Portugal?

While the France rugby team has clinched Rugby World Cup Champion titles, Georgia competes fiercely and has shown great progress compared to teams like Portugal and Netherlands at various levels of competition.

4. Has Georgian national team participated in any major tournaments?

Yes, the Georgian national team regularly participates in international fixtures and aims to enhance its reputation with every outing on the world stage.

5. Is there investment being made into coaching for Georgia’s Rugby team?

Definitely! There is considerable focus on strengthening the Georgia rugby coaching staff to ensure continuous improvement and burgeoning success for future contests.

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