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50 years of rugby in Georgia

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, March 30
A film called Oval Ball, dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the introduction of rugby to Georgia, was shown at the Movie House on March 29. The film was made with the assistance of the Georgian Rugby Union and Georgian Public Broadcaster and presents the difficult path Georgian Rugby has followed to reach its present importance.

“We have tried to show the road Georgian Rugby has travelled until now; we have worked on the film for three months. The most difficult aspect of making it was finding archive materials, and the Rugby Union’s veterans assisted us very much with this. The film cannot go into great detail as it lasts only 30 minutes, but I think it gives sufficient information about Georgian Rugby’s development,” director of the film Gogi Toradze said before the screening.

The history of Georgian rugby began in 1960. Rugby is an English sport codified in the nineteenth century, but Georgian has a native sport of its own very similar to rugby, called lelo, which is why Georgians have easily mastered rugby. The seventies were the decisive years in the development of Georgian rugby, as in this period Tbilisi clubs achieved significant success against other clubs in the Soviet Union. At the end of the eighties the Georgian national team was formed, a very important step forward for rugby’s popularisation in the country.

The most difficult time for Georgian rugby and its players were the years of Georgia’s fight for independence, as in the nineties the Russian Government did its best to prevent Georgia gaining independence or advancing in sport. However the Georgians have managed to gain the interest of other nations and have already won the European Nations Cup several times. The role of the foreign trainers of the team has been really significant and these have also helped Georgian rugby players find clubs abroad, which has been very important for their professional growth.

It was frequently underlined in the film that for Georgians rugby is not just a sport it is a rule of life, an expression of the Georgian spirit and a symbol of united endeavour and victory. At the present moment rugby is being spread all over Georgia and there are clubs in almost every region. Rugby is turning into one of the most popular sports among the young Georgian generation.

Georgia’s rugby team has already gained a place in the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Let us hope that its performances on the highest stage are an echo of Georgia's fighting spirit.

The Messenger is proud to announce that it has been chosen as the official media supporter of the Georgian Rugby Union.