Ioseb Tkemaladze (President of the Georgian Union): “Our project is ambitious”

Ioseb Tkemaladze (President of the Georgian Union):

“Where is Georgian rugby today?
There has been much concern in recent months regarding Georgian rugby and the elections. The impact of the pandemic has been difficult for us as well. Over the next few years, the Georgian state is going to build 100 rugby fields in 45 different locations in the country, specifically with the approval of our Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili. Stadiums of all sizes depending on the city or region. In terms of doctors, today we have about 9,500 sacked, especially because of covid. Before that, we were around 17,000. The number is expected to quadruple. Bidzina Ivanishvilik (Businessman and former Prime Minister) Has invested $100 million in rugby over the past fifteen years. In particular, they created fifteen training camps, which allowed the number of licensees to triple until the health crisis. These investments have enabled us to make progress. Our national team also reached 12th place in the world rankings. He also did well in the 2015 World Cup (Third in Group C after New Zealand and Argentina). We have planned the training of coaches, supervisors, caregivers in parallel, because mere construction of grounds and stadium will not be enough to make great teams and great players. Crossing the country, we also realized that rugby was the number 1 sport in terms of popularity. People asked us if we could not have a small club near their house.

“Ideally and in the long term, we would like to integrate the United Rugby Championship”

Is it easy to watch rugby on Georgian TV?
In recent years, there has been a TV channel dedicated to rugby. All First and Second Division matches are broadcast live, and there will now be Youth Semis and Finals as well. Top 14 is also available, but on a pay channel. In the end, a contract was signed with Rugby TV. They will buy all the matches of the biggest leagues, including the United Rugby Championship. (Championship that brings together 16 teams from the Welsh, Irish, Italian, Scottish and South African provinces), since our franchise, the Black Lions, should integrate it sometime.

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Georgia captain Merab Sharikadze in a Black Lions jersey.

In your opinion, what are the levers to allow Georgian rugby to advance on the international scene?
We considered how many matches the national team was playing at the moment and we considered it inadequate. That’s why we have created this franchise. It will be a one of a kind national BIS team, which will play more matches every year. Today we are competing in the Super Cup (European competition from emerging countries) And are currently looking to integrate a better European Championship. Ideally and eventually, we would like to integrate the United Rugby Championship.

“I want to thank Europe and especially France. It has supported us a lot over the past thirty years. This has enabled Georgian rugby to develop, especially by welcoming many of our young players who can become professionals. Huh “

We hear a lot from countries in the Pacific expressing a sense of abandonment on the part of major rugby nations, but very little from Europe. Are you satisfied with the way World Rugby and their teammates treat Georgia and other Tier 2 teams today?
I want to thank Europe and especially France. He has supported us a lot over the last thirty years. This has allowed Georgian rugby to flourish, especially by welcoming many of our young players who can become professionals. Today, we look forward to supporting our project through a deep and exclusive cooperation with France. For the rest, we can only thank World Rugby for everything it has done for us so far. Especially the Test matches we had and which unfortunately got canceled due to covid. Scotland and South Africa in particular were (July 2021). It is a little better than before and we are optimistic about the future. We will play against France on November 14. These matches did not exist for us. We are now waiting to see how our 100 stadium project will be supported.

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Mamuka Gorgodz, a former third line Georgia teammate, now works within her union, amid a feud with All Black Richie McCaw.  (Frank Seguin/Team)

Mamuka Gorgodz, a former third line Georgia teammate, now works within her union, amid a feud with All Black Richie McCaw. (Frank Seguin/Team)

Many believe that it would be legitimate for Georgia to have a chance at the Six Nations instead of Italy. Do you want an up and down system between tournament A and B?
Of course, the recent results of the Italian team are not exemplary. And they are no good for anyone. But it is not that they are in trouble so we are happy. For the global development of the game, the opposite would be better. It’s been ten years that we’re up in Tournament B, which doesn’t really allow us to progress. We know we can do better. Our journey at the Fall Nations Cup last year proved that playing against great nations allows us to progress in every game. This confirms us in the idea that by integrating the upper floor, we can reach an even better level. We also found this eight-team competition to be a very interesting format. If World Rugby manages to maintain a competition of this format, it would be great for us, the Italians, and for the development of rugby in the world.

The two countries that have made arguably the most progress in recent years are Argentina and Japan. What construction model would you be able to reproduce using your strengths of course?
When I arrived, we considered the growth model of the next fifteen years, our strengths, genetics, etc. So I cannot say that the Argentine or Japanese model will suit us. On the other hand, we must study both the models and make our own in order to win and move on. Our project is ambitious. We have our strengths and we want to build the system that is right for us. It is running exclusively with the help of other countries including France. To be better than others you have to study them but find your own way. “

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