Georgian Rugby Beats French Barbarians

On Thursday, May 31, Tbilisi hosted French rugby team the Barbarians – the second national team of the French Rugby Federation. The game was played at Dinamo Stadium in Tbilisi, capacity 54,549. The game was important because the result contibuted to Georgia's international rankings. Georgia is currently ranked 12th in the world by World Rugby. The Georgian national team, the Lelos, beat the Barbarians 16-15 in a close match. Georgia was favored to win by Sofascore.

In the 2018 Rugby European Championship, the premier rugby union competition outside of the Six Nations Championship in Europe, Georgia took home the title by beating Romania in the finals in Tbilisi 25-16. It was Georgia’s 10th Rugby European Championship title. The French Barbarians are one of the strongest teams in the rugby world. In 2016 they defeated Australia 19–11, and in late 2017 they beat the Māori All Blacks 19–15 in the Autumn internationals.

Rugby is one of the most popular sports in Georgia. The National Federation’s slogan is “Rugby is our game.” Although the sport does not have as large of a fanbase as football does in Georgia, and with professional salary standards much lower than other sports, there is less flash and glamour to attract young fans. The national team has had phenomenal success on the national stage compared to other Georgian sports. They qualified for the Rugby World Cup four times, first in 2003 – playing against rugby powers such as England and South Africa. The Lelos recorded their first ever World Cup win in the 2007 Rugby World Cup, where they beat Namibia 30–0. 

By Samantha Guthrie

Photo: Georgia Today

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