Divided Loyalties - Go Lelos!!! Go All Blacks!!!
08 October, 2015
Divided Loyalties - Go Lelos!!! Go All Blacks!!!
“I’m very patriotic and will always support my home nation but on Friday night when I watched the Lelos go face-to-face against world champions the All Blacks in their Rugby World Cup Pool C game, I felt truly divided.

When the All Blacks scored in the second minute of the game I was proud, but when Beka Tsiklauri flew over the line in the fifth minute, I was ecstatic.

I was born and raised in New Zealand but for the past
two years Georgia has been my home. My fiancée and I have family in Tbilisi; we both work here and are extremely happy here. Georgia has truly become our second home, which was why on Friday night I felt conflicted when watching the epic rugby match between Georgia and New Zealand.

With half of my face sporting the Georgian flag and the other half painted with the silver fern (New Zealand’s iconic symbol) I supported both teams for the duration of the 80-minute match. Flanked by three other New Zealanders, we sat in the courtyard of a bustling Irish pub in Old Tbilisi and watched the game come to life.

Hand over heart I sang proudly as the New Zealand anthem was played but I also sang along to the Georgian national anthem, although I must concede I only know the tune and not the words!

When the All Blacks scored in the second minute of the game I was proud but when Beka Tsiklauri flew over the line in the fifth minute, I was ecstatic.

For the first half and most of the second I was on the edge of my seat watching and supporting both teams. When the All Blacks scored I was one of the few who clapped but I felt proud to be from New Zealand. (Being away from home makes you become more patriotic, don’t you think?).

The game could have been a steamrolling…but it wasn’t. Georgia played an excellent game that put the All Blacks under immense pressure. I won’t go into the debate whether the All Blacks performed as well as they should have but the team earned the result it desired – a win.

Watching Georgia step up last night’s game against Namibia was a real treat. Georgian rugby has improved immensely in recent years and their games are always great to watch.

Who knows how long I will remain in Georgia but this country and its people have captured my heart. I will forever be a Lelos fan – even when facing off against New Zealand.”

Journalist Genevieve Helliwell came to Georgia with her fiancee Richard Saunders in mid-2013 to explore the Georgian culture and pursue work opportunities.

Author: Genevieve Helliwell
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