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Head of Rugby Europe takes swipe at current Test landscape

By Ian Cameron
Georgian players celebrate with Levan Maisashvili, head coach of Georgia during the rugby test match between Georgia and Italy at Adjarabet Arena on July 10, 2022 in Batumi, Georgia. (Photo by Levan Verdzeuli/Federugby via Getty Images)

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President of Rugby Europe Octavian Morariu has implied that he doesn’t hold out much hope for an increased frequency in Test matches between Tier 1 and Tier 2 sides.

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On Sunday Georgia – regular Rugby Europe winners and one of the most improved teams in world rugby over the last two decades – won their first ever match against a Tier 1 nation.

The Lelos beat Italy 28-19 win in Batumi, a historic victory for the side whom many believe should be at least considered as potential entrants into the Guinness Six Nations. Proponents of growing the game argue more exposure to Tier 1 sides for the likes of Georgia and Romania in Europe and the Pacific island nations in the Australasia, will lead to more competitiveness.

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Georgia Win | Headline News
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Georgia Win | Headline News

However Morariu, while congratulating Georgia on the win, suggested that the regularity of such contests is unlikely to increase in the current international landscape.

Morariu, said: “A huge congratulations to everyone who is associated to Georgian rugby on Sunday’s historic evening in Batumi with their win over Italy.

“We have seen in our own competitions the elite level of rugby that they produce and believe that for them, and the game, to grow further that more opportunities at this level must be a given.

“But we all know that unfortunately, the way European and international rugby are currently structured, does not allow this to happen in the near future.

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“We will be the first at the table to see how we can progressively improve the game in all areas, obviously with a keen focus on Europe and the international teams that play in our continent.

Speaking to RugbyPass Georgia’s defence coach Joe Worsley says that such exposure will be vital for the men from the Caucasus.

“One day there needs to be an ability to let a team like Georgia (into the Six Nations) in but there are steps before that needs to happen. More Tier 1 exposure is huge for Georgia and there is going to be one of those fixtures in November and then the European Nations competition they take part in followed by warm up games for the World Cup in France.

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“They need to find a viable solution that gives the players a constant exposure to a decent level of rugby. On top of that the international team needs as much exposure to Tier One matches as possible.”

RugbyPass were on the ground in Batumi to witness the victory and following the game, Georgia head coach Levan Maisashvili said that he didn’t think the result would necessarily change anything in terms of eventual entry into the Six Nations, an ambition that remains more aspirational for now rather than something the union believe is coming around the corner.

“I don’t think today’s result will change much in terms of if Georgia should maybe join the Six Nations,” Maisashvili told reporters. “I absolutely don’t think they are going to open the door on the back of one result.”

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