Rugby: Georgia beat Russia to top European Nations Cup table

Note: This post was updated on 6 April 2009 to make clear that the European Nations Cup is a two year tournament, and that neither Russia nor Georgia have yet qualified for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Georgia beat Russia 29-21 in a thrilling encounter to secure first position in the rugby European Nations Cup at the mid-way point of the two-year season.

Held in neutral Ukraine because of last year’s war between the two countries, the game had been keenly anticipated. Georgia, favourites to win the title at the start of the season had stumbled in an earlier game against Portugal and Russia, with a 100% win record, had been considered by many to be the slight favourites.

But it was Georgia who stormed out of the blocks. Three first half tries left the Russians reeling. 21-6 down at the break, they looked to have no chance.

Two second half tries pulled a resilient Russian team back into contention and, at one point, they closed the gap to just three points. But 24-21 was the closest Russia were to get to the title.

One final surge across the try-line, and the Georgians were deserved 29-21 victors.

The result leaves Georgia three points clear of Russia at the mid-way point of this two-year tournament, although Russia have a game in hand against tournament new boys Germany, which should see Russia close the gap to just one point.

This leaves everything to play for next season as Georgia, Russia and Portugal (currently sandwiched between Georgia and Russia in the table) vie for not only the tournament title, but two automatic places at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Sadly I haven’t been able to find full video highlights of the match online. The Georgian fans are very well organised and put videos up on youtube immediately after each match, but sadly they tend to only show their own team’s scores.

Picture courtesy of M Anderson.

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12 Responses

  1. Corbin says:

    Great to see Georgia win again. They have performed well at the last two world cups.

    Corbin´s last blog post..Solving Australian Domestic Rugby – Part 1

  2. Andy says:

    It is – although I’d much prefer to see Russia win 🙂

    Interestingly, this win takes Georgia to 13th in the world rankings, only just behind Italy. I’ve already seen a couple of people speculating as to whether a good performance by Georgia in the World Cup will prompt calls for promotion and relegation between the Six Nations and the European Nations Cup (Six Nations, Division 2).

    Personally, I’m really hoping that Georgia and Italy are drawn together in the same group – now that would be an interesting match!

  3. Sean says:

    1. Georgia HAVE NOT won the European Nations Cup First Division, it is a TWO year competition it is only half way through!

    2. Georgia HAVE NOT qualified for the World Cup, it is a two year competition and the top two qualify at the end NOT half way through!

    3. The world cup is NOT next year it is in September/October 2011!

    I do agree there should be promotion/relegation between Six Nations & ENC. Since the ENC is a two year competition, team promoted to Six Nations would get a home and away game against all the teams over the two seasons! It would make the wooden spoon decider a much more exciting and tense afair and it would mean that mediocrity is punished!

    Plus I can’t imagine anyone looking forward to a trip to Tiblisi or Moscow in Feburary / March!

  4. Andy says:

    Thanks for clearing that up Sean – much appreciated.

    I had thought it odd that, as previous tournaments were two year events, this one was only one year long, but I was thrown by the official FIRA-AER website, which only lists fixtures for the first half of the season.

    I agree that none of the teams would look forward to a snowy trip to Moscow or Tbilisi, but can you imagine the fans partying in Red Square?

  5. Sean says:

    I sure can see that happening! The best thing is it would be a party and not a tense affair as you get with football matches!

  6. Sean says:

    I sure can see that happening! The best thing is it would be a party and not a tense affair as you get with football matches!

    Lets just hope the Georgians make the leading powers sit up and take notice with a good display in this years churchill cup and then an impressive display at the next world cup! After all the winners of the ENC will be in Pool B with England and Scotland, what better way to advertise!

  7. Rachel says:

    wow, they played in Ukraine? I’m a huge rugby fan living near Kiev, and had no idea there were high level rugby matches (or really any rugby matches) to be seen in Ukraine. does anyone know where I could find out about more rugby in Ukraine, as I would be very interested in watching some matches…

  8. Andy says:

    Hi Rachel

    Ukraine play in Division 2A of the European Nations Cup – the division below Russia and Georgia, so there should be plenty of international games to watch. At the moment, it looks like they’re top of the table.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008-2010_European_Nations_Cup_Second_Division

    According to the schedule above, Ukraine’s next home game is against Moldova on 18 April, so if you’re quick, you could get to see some international rugby before the end of this season.

    They also seem to have a fairly active domestic league:

    http://www.rugby.org.ua/

  9. Sean says:

    The game between Ukraine and Moldova should be a good one, considering Moldova are seen to be the next big thing in international rugby.
    Ukraine will be looking to regain their place in the 2010-2012 First Division and of course the team who wins the division goes into the 4th round of the European playoff to qualify for the 2011 world cup, so their is alot to play for!

  10. Salvador says:

    Ukraine are doing really well at the moment, yes. Should be too much for Moldova at home.

    Lower divisions are interesting too.

    Lithuania are flying thanks to 12 straight wins! Their youth teams are doing very successfully as well. Watch out for Lithuania in the playoffs in May!

    By the way, if anyone were interested to investigate those topics discussed on this page further, fell free to visit http://www.fira-aer-rugby.com/forum2007/index.php for all your rugby news and opinions!

  11. Andy says:

    Thanks Salvador – by the way, there’s a great discussion about Russian domestic rugby here:

    http://www.fira-aer-rugby.com/forum2007/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=2739

    Apparently (see page 4), a couple of Russia’s big Rugby League sides are considering switching codes and moving to Union.

  12. Alexander says:

    Wow, I’m a huge fan of Georgian team, they seem very tough and agile. Besides I loved to see how they kicked Russia’s ass for the… um 10th+ time?