Six Nations 2017: Georgia - a coming force in world rugby
26 February, 2017
Six Nations 2017: Georgia - a coming force in world rugby
The Six Nations is the exclusive club for European rugby's elite, and there is a queue of outsiders eager to force their way in.

Georgia are at the front of that waiting list, climbing above Italy in the world rankings and attracting crowds of more than 50,000 in Tbilisi.They have already qualified for the 2019 World Cup and beaten the likes of Tonga and Fiji, while they will face Wales for the first time in November, BBC reports.

"Yet it
might be some time until their case for inclusion will be properly heard.

Six Nations chief executive John Feehan has dismissed the notion of relegation, defending Italy's permanent place in the competition despite them propping up the table 11 times in the 17 tournaments since they joined in 2000.

The idea of expanding of the Six Nations to seven teams or more has also been met with derision, with those in charge of the global game seemingly content with the status quo.

Georgia will not be deterred, however, as head coach Milton Haig explains.

"We can't control the decision-making process and we understand we won't be able to influence that apart from being consistent on the rugby field," he tells BBC Wales Sport.

"If it's going to cost us a certain amount of money [to join the Six Nations], tell us what it is and we will be able to come back to you with an answer.

"It can be frustrating but our job is to create a conversation and if we can keep the conversation alive then hopefully we can get a bit of support, not only from the media but within the internal structures of the Six Nations."

Providing the necessary financial support for a team in the Six Nations costs millions, but that would not be a problem for Georgia.

Backed by their government and the billionaire and former prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgia have the financial muscle to compete with any other nation in world rugby.

The Georgian Rugby Union is investing in its infrastructure and grassroots game and, should the dream of entering the Six Nations become a reality, Haig believes the country could blaze a trail for others.

"If you're looking at potential, one thing we do know is we'll be bringing an Eastern European market to the table," the New Zealander adds.

"Not only would we be watched by our own fans, you can bet other Eastern European nations like Russia and Romania will more than likely tune in too.

"It will be for the greater good of Eastern European rugby. With the support of Mr Ivanishvili and the government, we think we can be sustainable.

"We'd be happy to sign up for a five-year deal. Even if it's three years, give us three years to prove ourselves on the pitch and commercially, and we'd be pretty confident we could do both."

Having spent the majority of his coaching career in New Zealand, Haig took on a major project when he moved to Georgia in 2011.

The former scrum-half is an enthusiastic ambassador for Georgian rugby, eager to expose his team to more occasions like their 2015 World Cup encounter with New Zealand in front of 69,187 at Cardiff's Principality Stadium", - The article reads.

Read full story at BBC


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