There has been a lot of speculation in recent weeks over the future of Georgian rugby. British media has been pointing out the fact Italy is now ranked below Georgia in the World Rugby Rankings.
The situation is well established, and while Italy are playing in the 6 Nations and Pro12, Georgia do not compete in any top tier competitions, including the EPCR cups. However, this is set to change, as Georgia will finally take part in the Qualifying competition for the Challenge Cup in 2017-18. « Georgia will have two teams in the next Qualifying tournament. Both finalist of Didi10 should qualify for it » reveals GRU president Gocha Svanidze. The current season of the Didi10 will act as the qualifier, with the top two Georgian clubs taking part in the European competition.
The format of the Qualifying competition could quickly change as a new league is in the cards. « The idea is to have 10 European teams from Georgia, Romania, Spain, Portugal, Russia, Germany and more. This is a Rugby Europe project which will be realized next year if not this year. This competition is related to EPCR and ideally will serve for Challenge Cup qualification » explains Gocha Svanidze. Multiple sources have revealed to us that some nations are looking to field a franchise in the competition. Germany is already recruiting for it, and Romania is exploring the possibility of a reborn Bucharest Wolves.
The Daily Mail recently said Bidzina Ivanishvili is ready to pay for a 6 Nations inclusion. Gocha Svanidze don’t see it coming : « It is not fair for Georgia to pay for inclusion. Our opinion is the contrary : Georgia’s inclusion in 6 Nations should be beneficial for us financially as well as development-wise ».
Rugby Europe recently announced its Executive Committee will put down an official demand to the 6 Nations Committee on March 9th to expand the 6 Nations to 7 or 8 nations or set up automatic relegation or a relegation playoff. Gocha Svanidze welcomes this initiative : « This is the right thing to do in our opinion, at least Rugby Europe could make a statement of its position. World Rugby could also make a statement regarding this like Rugby Europe. »
In other news, the Daily Mail also revealed Pro12 was talking about an expansion to Canada, USA, Germany and Georgia. Gocha Svanidze clarifies the situation : « It is Georgia’s intention to form a franchise and participate in a club competition – whether Pro12 or Super Rugby. We have discussed this with both; there are no specific offers or requests yet, nor any clear idea when these competitions are going to expand. Possibly this will happen in 2020 or later. »