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'I never freaked out but I'd to hate all opponents to be stronger'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images)

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Legendary Georgia forward Mamuka Gorgodze has reflected on his stellar career, explaining how he survived in the Top 14 and enjoyed a 15-year career. The now 38-year-old spent nine seasons at Montpellier followed by another six at Toulon before his retirement in 2020. He has since returned home to work in Georgian rugby and has now recalled his considerable French adventure.  

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Speaking to rugbyrama.fr, Gorgodze said: “I arrived in Montpellier in 2005, at just 21 years old. The first three years were really very difficult but after that, France became like a second country for me. She opened her arms to me and gave me a lot. I will never forget Montpellier and Toulon…

“The players were all very strong in the Top 14, but I never freaked out in rugby. Anyway, I had to hate all my opponents to be stronger,” he added before referencing his relationship with the referees on the French scene. 

“At the end of my career, I was fine with all the referees on the professional circuit. In Toulon, Bernard Laporte made me progress a lot in discipline and there I spent five or six games without taking the slightest penalty.”

Gorgodze called it quits on his playing career after the pandemic terminated the 2019/20 Top 14 season and he was delighted to recently see Georgia take the scalp of Italy in a summer Test match, winning 28-19 against the team numerous people believe they should replace in the Guinness Six Nations.  

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“I came back to the country and joined the board of the Georgian federation. I have a quiet little life… I continue to exercise on a daily basis. I have a weight room at home, I also do cross-fit and haven’t gained a single kilo since the end of my career.

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“The match against Italy was super important because it allowed us to beat a great rugby nation for the first time, which had also beaten Wales during the Six Nations. We played this match in Batumi, on the shores of the Black Sea. It was crazy, there were 20,000 people at the stadium and an extraordinary atmosphere… People love the Lelos here. Rugby is becoming increasingly popular in Georgia.”

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