Batumi International Beach Rugby Festival Short-listed for Rhino Grassroots Award

The Batumi International Beach Rugby Festival has been short-listed for the Rhino Grassroots Rugby Award which is to be presented at the World Rugby Conference and Exhibition in London in November.

The list features a variety of events and organizations with a wide geographical spread – social rugby events in Georgia, the USA, Poland and the UK, and a remarkable youth development program in Cambodia. The full list is:

1. The Batumi International Beach Rugby Festival (Georgia).

2. The Cronk-Cunis National Under 21 Festival (England).

3. Kampuchea Balopp (Cambodia).

4. The Los Vegas Invitational Tournament (USA).

5. The Piotrowice Nyskie International Rugby Festival (Poland).

Rhino is exhibiting at World Rugby’s ConfEx for the third time on November 14th and 15th at the Hilton London Metropole Hotel, and is an Official Supporter of this year’s event. The Rhino Grassroots Rugby Award will be presented to the winning organization following a Rhino sponsored panel session on ‘Supporting Grassroots Rugby’ which starts at 12.30pm on Monday 14th November.

“It’s a great honor to receive the nomination and I have a lot of gratitude to everyone who helped along the way- it's a great honor for Georgian rugby,” Zura Dugladze, Vice President of the Georgian Beach Rugby Union (GBRU), told GEORGIA TODAY.

Due to celebrate its 10th anniversary next year, the Georgian Beach Rugby Association was set up in 2007 on the initiative of a number of veterans of Georgian rugby teams- older players who couldn't play anymore but who still wanted to be involved with rugby.

The enthusiasm and passion for the game was shared in particular by old rugby friends Kakha Mkheidze, President of GBRU and Zura Dugladze “Dugi.” They were later joined in their endeavors to spread the sport more widely by Anthony Lynn in 2010 who has been back and forth to Georgia since and who is responsible for starting the Bulldogs UK and bringing them to play in Georgia.

Although the Union is active all year round and hopes to be more so in future as beach sports gain more support internationally, the main event of the year is the annual Batumi Beach Rugby Festival which is held in a purpose-built stadium on the beach in Batumi.

The tournament has a growing international following with the Bulldogs from the UK this year having made their third consecutive visit, and teams from Russia and Turkey giving the competition some added interest.

The 2017 Festival will be held to coincide with the 20th Anniversary of TBC Bank and the Jazz Festival which they sponsor annually. The Jazz Festival hosts stars of the international jazz scene for a ten day extravaganza of seaside music. The Batumi Beach Rugby Festival is sponsored by the Georgian Rugby Federation, Batumi City Hall, the Georgian Ministry of Sports, TBC Bank with Rhino Rugby as a proud supplier of match balls and kit for the organizers and referees.

“In terms of players, in the first year media representatives took part, and it is still predominantly for amateurs. However, we have also had years when finances allowed professionals to play,” Dugladze told GEORGIA TODAY. “Next year we expect to have at least 10 men’s teams and 4 women’s teams.”

Katie Ruth Davies

17 October 2016 18:26