The cancellation of the French Top 14 season has had one very disappointing consequence – the world has seen the last of Mamuka Gorgodze on the rugby pitch. It was known that the legendary Georgian was in the last year of his career and would have retired at the end of the season at Toulon. 

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However, that exit has now been brought forward with the termination of the 2019/20 campaign due to the coronavirus outbreak, meaning the 35-year-old’s last appearance was a Top 14 game at Pau last November, the month after he had returned from representing Georgia in Japan at the 2019 World Cup. 

Gorgodze had been injured over the winter but hopes he would make it back for an on-pitch farewell with Toulon have now been dashed. Speaking earlier this week on rugbyrama.fr prior to the French authorities pulling the plug on the Top 14’s mooted restart, the Georgian said: “It’s the worst end of career one can imagine. I have been playing pro rugby for 16 years. I gave everything for this sport and it fell really badly: between the injury and the virus… it was not the end I had imagined! 

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“To play so many years and go home like this… but it’s not dramatic: at the moment many families have lost loved ones, parents… that’s serious. What would I tell them to these people? I’m complaining because I couldn’t go out and get an extra match? No, you have to be decent. It’s very hard for me, but I don’t want to complain, it would be dishonest.

“I’m not the type to look for the extra contract for fear of hanging up. If I have to stop tomorrow, I would stop. End of career. It’s finished… the current season is over. The championship cannot resume before the end of June and the end of my contract. It’s really sad… but I refuse to complain. There are almost 200,000 deaths, and I’m going to cry because I didn’t leave with a bouquet of flowers in the last game? I’m not like that.

“I was injured during our first session on the new pitch at the Berg training centre. The ground was still a bit hard and it jumped. I had to have it for ten-15 days, it was nothing, but I had three recurrences… the calf is the most annoying muscle on one leg, it is constantly stressed. I was unlucky: from ten days it became a few weeks, then three months…”

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Gorgodze now plans to return home to Georgia once the lockdown restrictions are lifted in France and carve out his post-rugby career there. “I will return directly to Georgia. I think our loved ones are happy to know that we will soon return to the country. 

“As a personal move, changing jobs and countries is not ideal at the moment, but again I will not complain. These things are a pebble in my shoe if we compare to the health crisis hitting the world. Besides, I take this opportunity to thank the caregivers who give their days, their weeks, their lives around the world… they are the real heroes.”

 

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