It was an open door for Georgian rugby, an opportunity to make a statement in the world of rugby.

How the Lelos seized their opportunity. Levan Maisashvili’s side didn’t so much go through the door as smash it in the middle of a cauldron of deafening noise.

It was a landmark victory. Rugby authorities should take note. Georgia is a true rugby nation and needs more games like this to show its worth and help develop as a second-tier nation.

Invites them to join Six nations now it will only be louder against the background of this result. Many believe that there should be a promotion and relegation battle every year to participate in the championship.

That scenario would most likely pit Italy, a team that has won just one in the Six Nations since 2015, and Georgia, perennial winners of rugby competitions in Europe.

Italy couldn’t get past Georgia as the hosts dominated for most of the game

It was a match and how Georgia proved its point. They played some good rugby at times, but it was the passion and fervor of the occasion that impressed them.

The atmosphere was electric. It was a phenomenal rugby experience. Honestly, Georgia deserves to have more of them.

It was the night their voice was heard and the noise was to reverberate through the corridors of rugby power for the rest of the summer.

Georgia is used to supporting a crowd of 50,000 in its capital, Tbilisi. It was their first match in Batumi, a seaside resort on the Black Sea, and a rare chance for them to face a team at the same level.

The relocation of matches across the country is part of Georgia’s plan to increase the appeal of rugby, and Adjarabet Arena is short on spectators.

Rugby is Georgia’s national sport, and the passion for it here is palpable. To understand this, you only had to be in Batumi. The home anthem was played with gusto.

And the first quarter of the game could not have been better. Beka Saginadze won a penalty from a poor shot and the spot went to nothing. There was more ahead.

Vasyl Lobzhanidze fired over and Aleksandr Todua turned his foot neatly to reach the ball and score before it went down.

On the touchline, after a try was awarded following a TMO check, goalkeeper Nodar Cheishvili raised his hands to the sky in silent celebration, as if grateful for some form of divine intervention.

As if that wasn’t enough, Davit Niniashvili broke through and Teda Abzhandadze completed the move to make it Georgia’s second. Obzhandade improved the attempt.

If Ajarabet Arena had a roof, it would probably collapse, such was the explosion of noise. Italy struck back. Tommaso Menancello headed the ball in and Harlequin’s Tommy Allan converted and kicked two penalties.

The Georgia Stadium announcer was non-stop. It was the performance of his life. Pacing the touchline, he cheered on the rugby-mad crowd almost every minute, even during the game.

Abzhandadze hit the post with a simple penalty, but soon made a second attempt, again benefiting from another brilliant break from the excellent Niniyashvili.

Georgia showed courage as well as rugby skills. Their defense held out Italy, who lost Toa Halafihi to a yellow card, just before half-time. Shalva Mamukashvili’s monster hit helped the case.

Mamukashvili rose to his feet after the tackle, swinging his fists like a caged animal. His team won a penalty in the scrum shortly after the restart.

Italy knew they were in for a real battle and almost immediately introduced TOP14 winner Montpellier Paolo Garbisi from the bench. Soon Garbisi made a brilliant touch and Allan converted his third penalty.

An announcer in a cap was blaring out on the sideline. He screamed hoarsely with excitement. Obzhandade crossed out Alan’s three points.

Italy had plenty of possession but the side who beat Wales in Cardiff in March made mistakes as a giant Georgia pack refused to concede.

They won a penalty in the touchline, and with each referee Brendan Pickerill’s whistle, the noise turned up another notch.

Coming on as a replacement for Gela Aprasidze hit the bar with a shot from a distance. The forward from Italy was welcomed on the roofs. The grandstands warmed up the Georgian players.

Niniashvili decided, who called on the fans of his team to make more noise. And now the decisive moment has come. The winner of the match was the diminutive Aprasidze.

When he converted a penalty from well in the middle of his own half, it looked like a shot at nothing. You wondered if Aprasidze would reach the posts.

His shot flew and the crowd erupted again. Allan did respond and was loudly booed when collecting the shot, but Italy needed more than that and Georgia deserved to win.

Abzhandade saved the game after Aprasidze’s miss. Footballers of Georgia rightly went crazy after the final whistle.

Not only those who were on the field celebrated. The whole nation went to potty. Fireworks exploded from the roof of the skyscraper above the stadium. It was some statement.


Georgia is trying to: Todua 10, Abzhandade 14, 36

Cons: Teda Abzhandade 15, 37

Handles: Abzhandadze 56, 78, Aprasidze 71

Italy Try: Menancello 21

Cons: Alan 22

Handles: Alan 28, 33, 52, 73

Judge: Brendan Pickerill (New Zealand) Star man: Theda Abzhandade (Georgia)

Georgia Tries: Todua 10, Abzhandadze 14, 36 Cons: Teda Abzhandadze 15, 37 Penalties: Abzhandadze 56, 78, Aprasidze 71

Italy Try: Menoncello 21 Con: Allan 22 Pens: Allan 28, 33, 52, 73

Referee: Brendan Pickerill (New Zealand) Main star: Teda Abzhandade (Georgia)

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