English Sources

Georgia jerseys for sale

The latest Rugby League jerseys to become available to the wider sporting public are those from Georgia, who made their debut in  the European Nations Cup this autumn

Forty-Twenty.co.uk, who are massive supporters in helping the sport expand internationally, now have supplies of the striking shirts in stock and available to order from their website

European Development Officer Kevin Rudd commented:

Forty-Twenty have been a key partner in producing kits for all the new developing nations and profits generated from their sales get ploughed back into those countries to further assist in their expansion

I would urge any fans interested in the future of the game to make a purchase. There are now over a dozen members of the RLEF and I am sure it won't be long before someone has the full set of colours

RLEF welcomes World Cup announcement

RLEF * Thursday 01 December 2005

European Development Officer Kevin Rudd, who has overseen four new countries playing representative Rugby League matches during 2005, has welcomed the announcement that the World Cup has been confirmed for Australia in the spring of 2008 to celebrate their centenary in the sport

At least two of the non-seeded places in the eagerly anticipated tournament are set to be awarded to European Nations, who for the next two seasons will embark on a rigorous qualifying process

“With the Gillette Tri-Nations tournament moving across to the southern hemisphere next autumn, there will be increasing profile for the European Nations” Rudd commented

“Next years Euro Nations contests will be for World Cup qualification points, which will invest them with even more relevance and meaning”

“With a number of sides eager to develop on to the World stage, the qualifying process should be very competitive and increase interest and awareness throughout Europehe added

“Exact details are still being finalised but they are partly dependent on the individual Nations making commitments and meeting basic minimum standards

Already scheduled are European Preliminary World Cup Qualifiers from April to June 2006, with the top nations from that going forward to meet the continents more senior European sides in home and away group fixtures commencing in October and November 2006 and completing in October and November 2007

“Applications are being assessed at present to gauge the capabilities of the interested Nations but the process will allow a pathway through to compete in a World Cup for both new and older countries alike” commented Rudd

“We are working with each member of the Rugby League European Federation to put together a fair, realistic, achievable but exciting programme for them over the next few years irrespective of whether or not they will be ready to join the World Cup bandwagon”

Exact formats and dates are expected to be agreed at the next RLEF Board Meeting which is scheduled to take place in London from Fri-Sun, 10-12th February 2006

As part of the gathering, for the first time there will be presentations and workshops covering a number of key areas and issues in the game to assist in the further development of each of the Nations administrations


RLIF confirms 2008 World Cup

RLEF * Monday 28 November 2005

The Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) has confirmed after its Leeds meeting that 10 nations will compete in the Rugby League World Cup to be staged in the Southern Hemisphere [Australia & New Zealand] in 2008

Details of the nations to be granted
direct entry to the tournament and those that will gain entry via Qualifying Groups will be confirmed prior to 1st March 2006

The Federation has also agreed that each competing nation’s squad must meet the
following criteria relating to domestic players:

Each nation’s squad must contain at least six players who have played and been registered in the relevant domestic competition for at least one year OR who have played in one of that nation’s junior international teams such as a Student representative side or second tier international side, within the 18 months prior to the tournament

Commenting on the outcome of the meeting, the
Chairman of the Rugby League International Federation Colin Love said:

It is extremely satisfying that the RLIF meeting has reached agreement on these important issues. The Federation believes that the 10 team format will ensure the 2008 Rugby League World Cup will be a successful and highly competitive tournament which is both hugely entertaining and has many benefits for the sport globally

Love added:
The Qualifying Groups and matches will also be structured so that they function as a clear pathway for developing nations to win the right to compete with the sport’s established international teams as well as a significant development tool for Rugby League


France outclass Georgia to reach the Final


Ten-try France were given a more than useful workout in preparation for next week’s European Nations Cup Final against the Welsh in a cold and wet Tbilissi by a committed and enthusiastic Georgian side who have made impressive strides in their debut campaign

Unlike last week in Russia, when the Lelos seemed overawed by their more experienced opponents, the Georgians were highly competitive early on and were undone by the sublime talents of stand off Maxime Greseque who posted 32 of Les Chanticleers points courtesy of three tries and an impeccable ten goals

Overall, there was much to admire for the passionate crowd in the open air stadium and for the watching fans on Georgian television which heavily promoted the contest through a series of commercials and a poster campaign around the capital and took the match live

Georgia’s first possession saw them just fall short with a field goal attempt to rally the fans, Greseque taking advantage in the seventh minute when he cleverly exploited an overlap to go over by the posts

The Georgian forwards unashamedly took the game to their more illustrious opponents, skipper Vakhtang Akhvlediani setting a fine lead for the next quarter of an hour; Greseque again catching them off guard, a spell of sustained pressure over three sets of six seeing him scoot over from acting half back from ten metres out

A Georgian knock-on again presented further good field position for the visitors, seasonal debutant Teddy Saddaoui powering over on the right

A minute before the break, Greseque's towering cross field kick eluded everyone, Freddy Zitter the first to react and pounce in the corner, Greseque landing the touch line conversion to make it 24-0 at the interval

Six minutes into the second half, Olivier Charles showed great presence to slide in at the left corner before Greseque again showed his skills with another break down the left and just as he seemed to have been shepherded into touch, his kick infield bounced fortunately for Gregory Mounis to gather and cross

Charles claimed his brace after more concerted French pressure and a fine scrum move had outflanked the home cover and good forward play created an overlap in the 70th minute for Saddaoui to post a second touchdown

Greseque's individual brilliance brought up the half century and his hat trick try, a Georgian pass going to ground as they attacked the visiting line and the diminutive Pia half back hacking on three times in a glorious 70metre run

With the home defence tiring and stretched, Zitter's pace took him over for the final score four minutes from time of an entertaining and illuminating clash

Tournament Director
Graeme Thompson commented:

"The Georgians have
progressed very quickly from the qualifying tournament and even last week against the Russians. They have the raw material and coped athletically, they just need more of this kind of exposure to keep developing, we have introduced a new nation to the code. They performed very creditably against country that has been playing for around 70 years. This was a useful exercise for the French, they regarded it as a worthwhile experience, there was something in it for everyone"

GAME STAR - Impish French stand off Maxime Greseque controlled the show with a devastating all-round performance bringing him three tries and a perfect ten conversions

GAME BREAKER - Greseque's and the French second touchdown in the 23rd minute overcame a stubborn Georgian rearguard and gave the visitors licence to thrill

   Georgia: 1 George Assatiani, 2 Zviad Koberidze, 3 Nodar Andghuladze, 4 Sandro Guilauri, 5 David Jhamutashvili; 6 Revaz Guigauri, 7 Irakli Ghvinjilia /
   8 Beka Qurashvili, 9 Bidzina Samkharadze, 10 George Trapaidze; 11 Nicholas Mkheidze, 12 Vakhtang Akhvlediani
CAPT, 13 Kakha Kobakhidze;
   (int) 14 Fridon Udessiani, 15  David Gasviani, 16 George Mtchedlishvili, 17 Mamuka Tskhadadze

   France: 1 Adam Innes, 2 Frederic Zitter, 3 Teddy Saddaoui, 4 Jerome Hermet, 5 Olivier Charles; 6 Maxime Greseque, 7 Julien Rinaldi CAPT /
   8 Sebastien Raguin, 9 David Berthezene, 10 Adel Fellous; 11 Laurent Carrasco, 12 Aurelien Cologni, 13 Christophe Moly;
   (int) 14 Gregory Mounis, 15 Thomas Bosc, 16 Cedric Gay, 17 Jean Christophe Borlin -
10T: Greseque three (1st  2nd  9th), Saddaoui two (3rd  8th), Zitter two (4th  10th), Charles two (5th  7th), Mounis [6th]; 10G: Greseque

   Ref: Ben Thaler; TJs: David Griffiths [red flag] & Gary Towey [yellow flag]; Match Commissionaire: Gerry Kershaw (England)

Scoring sequence: 0-6(7') 0-12(23) 0-18(28) 0-24(39)  HT /
   0-30(46) 0-36(53) 0-42(58) 0-48(70) 0-54(74) 0-60(76) 

   Men of the match: Vakhtang Akhvlediani GEO & Maxime Greseque FRA

   Sunday, 30 October, 2005. RAIN. Tbilissi, Vake Stadium (Att: 1,500)


Public Looking for League Spectacle

Georgia v France
Tbilissi, Vake;  Sun, 30 Oct, 2005
KO 19.00 GeoT = 16.00 CET = 15.00 GMT

The buzz is going around Georgian Capital Tbilissi: Les Chanticleers (Cockerels) are coming to play newly formed Tsameti Kartveli at Vake Stadium. Of course, nobody hopes that our boys will upset the fancied guests but local rugby loving public still looks forward to both great spectacle and master-class in Rugby League which should be delivered by ENC title favourites

The French have been playing league since 1934 whilst the Georgians took it up seriously only last year. Nevertheless, Tsameti Kartveli (Thirteen Georgians) won both qualifying games and made the non-Celtic pool of the ENC. They were overwhelmed and outplayed by well-experienced and drilled Russia at Lujhniki a week ago. That would serve as eye-opener for 13-man game's newest boys who until now were showing neither urgency nor enough will to start domestic league and kept playing just Union

The French Treizistes will front Georgian haka, Perkhuli on Sunday, win handsomely, have a drink and depart. As for defeated Georgians, their number one priority would be to organize a meaningful League competition once Union season is over by the end of November. Locomotivi/ Raindebi (Railways/ Knights) could provide two sides, versatile Hooligana would be the third party on their own and the fourth entrant, Barbarian Stars would be comprised of those guys from Lelo, Academy and Qochebi/ Rams who are open to new challenges and keen to try League

The French game will be played at 24-thousand modern facility, completed in the most affluent end of the Capital just five years ago. Since then Vake Stadium has been regularly used as home venue by Georgia Football/ Soccer Federation whilst Georgia Rugby Union prefer to host internationals at bigger and older National Stadium in the downtown, next to railway station and main market, where every time they get knowledgeable crowd of over 20 thousand

If weather stays fine around 10 thousand of those faithful surely will turn up to watch the French magicians and immerse themselves into the novelties of another, faster, more confrontational and less boring code of Rugby

This time the game will by broadcast LIVE not by state-owned TV1 but private MZE (The Sun) Channel which offered a bob or two to Georgia RL for the rights, are running ads with CEO-cum-hooker Nono yelling and red-clad guys circling and moving on opposition, and are even showing interest in screening the rest of the Gillette Tri Nations

The arrival of French Treizistes is a boon for the entire Georgian Rugby community. The Top Nations (Tiers One and Two) of iRB's fold have neither time nor desire to play emerging countries. Georgia have made the last RWC Finals in Australia but are still cold-shouldered by the Greats of The Union, 'the Game They Play in Heaven'

What we survive on are a biggie, the Antim Cup home fixture every second year against Romania, and visits of Russia and Portugal in ENC. This November Lelos entertain Uruguay and Chile as well but they are no crowd-pullers after all. The last time a decent team came to Georgia, it was South Africa 'A' back in 2001. So, the warmest of welcomes to Les Chanticleers!

On Friday noon team reps met local media. French manager Gilles Dumas said that they aim to lift the Cup and hope Georgia will try their best. In response GRL new chairman, Guia Gorgaslidze thanked the French for their visit, reminded journalists that Tsameti Kartveli are too young by general sporting standards and expressed sincere hope that the public will come in droves and witness spectacular game

Tsameti Kartveli = Thirteen Georgians
(* added for this match)

   1 George Assatiani
[Manager], 2 Zviad Koberidze, 3 Revaz Guigauri, 4 Sandro Guilauri, 5 David Jhamutashvili; 6 Fridon Udessiani, 7 Bidzina Samkharadze /
   8 George Mtchedlishvili, 9 Nodar Andghuladze
[CEO], 10 David Gasviani; 11 George Trapaidze, 12 Nicholas Mkheidze, 13 Vakhtang Akhvlediani CAPT;
   (int) 14 Irakli Ghvinjilia
*, 15 Mamuka Tskhadadze, 16 Beka Qurashvili, 17 Kakha Kobakhidze* / 18 Gregory Nishnianidze*
   Coaches: Richard Ale (Samoa), Vinny Webb (England RLEF), Kakha Alania

Les Chanticleers = Cockerels

   1 Adam Innes, 2 Olivier Charles, 3 Jerome Hermet, 4 Teddy Saddaoui
*, 5 Frederic Zitter; 6 Maxime Greseque, 7 Julien Rinaldi CAPT /
   8 Adel Fellous, 9 David Berthezene, 10 Sebastien Raguin; 11 Laurent Carrasco, 12 Aurelien Cologni
*, 13 Christophe Moly;
   (int) 14 Gregory Mounis, 15 Cedric Gay, 16 Jean Christophe Borlin
*, 17 Thomas Bosc* / 18 Mathieu Mayans*
   Manager: Gilles Dumas; Coach: John Monie (Australia); Assistants: Daniel Divet, Scott Barker



Highlighted & complemented by Qaflan XIII

The Bears defied the heavy Moscow rain to sweep away the Georgians in the first ever international Eastern European Rugby League derby in front of an enthusiastic crowd which included RFL Development Director Gary Tasker

The match was effectively won in the opening 25 minutes as the
Georgians began nervously, seemingly overawed by the occasion, in only their third match and undoubtedly their toughest at this level

Led by dynamic hooker Roman Ovchinikov, who controlled the ruck area and got the bigger, more experienced Russian pack moving forward, the Bears took control from the kick off

Lively scrum half Andrei Kuzovkov was given too much space and he crossed for  the opening score, Ovchinikov then exploiting a gap to burrow over from close in; Kuzovkov’s conversion making it 10-0 before the visitors had had any meaningful possession

Converted tries to strong running centre Sergei Dobrynin and fleet-footed stand off Victor Nechaev extended the lead;
Kutaissi-born but Locomotiv Moscow-bred Irakli Chkhikvadze  making it 26-0 in as many minutes

The Georgian defence then began to find the measure of their opponents although they failed to counter the pace of winger Denis Koroliov who crossed in the corner after a fine run

The Georgian revival stemmed from a try just before the break scored by winger David
Jhamutashvili whose pace was a handful throughout

Although Artiom Grigorian extended the home lead to 36-4 just after the break, the Georgians found their rhythm and enjoyed their best spell, running in two tries as they dominated for a quarter of an hour

Zviad Maissuradze charged clear and the impressive Jhamutashvili grabbed his second to make it 36-14 but the Bears finished strongly banishing the memory of their heavy defeat in Arles last week

Ovchinikov again showed his guile and foot work in the middle to claim his  brace before skipper Eugene Bojhukov completed the scoring with his side’s ninth touchdown

Georgia's coaching consultant Vinny Webb commented: “This has been a
great learning experience for the whole side and a lot more positives than negatives have come out of it. There is a lot to work on for the game against France next week but more importantly for the future of the sport in the country and the will is there

GAME STAR – Two try Russian hooker Roman Ovchinnikov ran the show with his searing darts and clever distribution

GAME BREAKER – The Russians were given too much latitude to display their skills from the kick off, the opening quarter seeing them race away to a decisive lead

[+++ Georgia lacked the leadership and cool heads of retired old war-horses, two Kakhabers: pivot (No 6) Alania and loosie (No 13) Kobakhidze; George Shkinini of Hooligana RC who had to play at six was refused Russian visa just before the team flew out and make-shift fly-half Lexo Gugava has his cheek-bone snapped before half-time, thus forcing utility Fridon Udessiani and even hooker Nono Andghuladze to act as ball distributor. In all, it was evident that Tsameti Kartveli were not leagueies as yet whilst Bears felt at home as League is their bread and butter] 

  RUSSIA: 1 Oleg Logunov, 2 Denis Koroliov, 3 Sergei Dobrynin, 27 Oleg Smirnov, 5 Valentin Baskakov; 16 Victor Nechaev, 7 Andrei Kuzovkov / 8 Ian Gvozdev, 9 Roman Ovchinikov, 10 Andrei Dumalkin; 11 Alexander Lysenkov, 12 Irakli Chkhikvadze, 13 Eugene Bojhukov CAPT;
(Interchange) 4 Artiom Grigorian, 14 Alexander Chulkov, 18 Nikolai Zagoskin, 25 [tbc]
9T: Kuzovkov, Ovchinikov two (2nd  8th), Dobrynin, Nechaev, Chkhikvadze, Koroliov, Grigorian, Bojhukov; 6G: Kuzovkov, Logunov 5

GEORGIA: 1 George Assatiani, 2 Zviad Koberidze, 3 Revaz Guigauri, 4 Sandro Guilauri, 5 David Jhamutashvili; 6 Lexo Gugava, 7 Bidzina Samkharadze / 8 George Mtchedlishvili, 9 Nodar Andghuladze, 10 David Gasviani; 11 George Trapaidze, 12 Nicholas Mkheidze, 13 Vakhtang Akhvlediani CAPT; (Interchange) 14 Fridon Udessiani, 15 Mamuka Tskhadadze, 16 Beka Qurashvili, 17 Zviad Maissuradze
3T: Jhamutashvili two (1st  3rd), Maissuradze; G: Udessiani

Men of the match: RUSSIA - Roman Ovchinnikov; GEORGIA – David Jhamutashvili

Referee: Thierry Alibert (France)

Scoring sequence: 4-0, 10-0, 16-0, 22-0, 26-0, 32-0, 32-4 HT /
36-4, 36-10, 36-14, 42-14, 48-14 FT

  Sunday, 23 October, 2005. Moscow, Lujhniki Arena; Crowd: about ONE thousand


Railways into new League:
Locomotiv vs Locomotivi

Qaflan XIII News * Wednesday 19 October 2005

When Georgia visit Russia this Sunday to play their former masters at Rugby League for the first time ever, one can't avoid sense of deja vue: the old sporting foes have met hundreds of times on rugby field since early 1960s and even current squads bear similar, too strong Railways flavour

In fact, Russian Bears are Locomotiv Moscow plus handful of Kazanese Tatars, whilst Tsameti Kartveli (Georgia XIII) is made up of the bulk of Tbilissi Locomotivi (where last "i" is a true indicator of the name's Georgian-ness!) and the best of the rest of the Capital's rugby scene, mostly of Hooligana allegiance

But at this point the similarities end: Russians are true-blue Leagueys, born and raised within 13-men code. As for Georgians, they took up League as recently as January 2005 and since then have played just two games of it, handsomely won both and qualified for the third edition of RL ENC

Russian Locomotiv were one of the founders of the League back in 1989, even before the break-up of the old Soviet Union. They have achieved league/cup double for last four years (2002-2005). This season they won every domestic game with average score of 81-4 but then fell soundly to France by 0-80. Of course, the Cockerels are a level higher in class than the Bears but one also could explain the losing margin by the lack of competition within the Russian League

Train League, Play Union!

Georgians are yet to play a League match between them. They, Tsameti Kartveli's fold, practice 13-man game five times a week, in morning, but every fifth (!) day they are obliged to participate in Union's Championship for their clubs. So, Georgian model is truly unique throughout the modern rugby World: train league, play union!

Nevertheless, the guys are strong, fit, skilful and smart enough to compete with old neighbours even under League rules. They have good knowledge of contemporary, mainstream, robotic rugby where be it League or Union, attacking ideas are same, defensive formations similar, and running, tackling, passing and offloading techniques fully tranferable from one code to the other

Tsameti Kartveli are well tried and tested in international rugby Union: six of them are fully capped Lelos at senior level, ie dual internationals; other three, all of them Hooligana members, have already played for Kartuli Shvidkatsa (Georgia Union 7s) and six more were participants  of iRB's U19 World Cups in recent years

Finally about overall rugby stats, of course, still exclusively in Union. Georgia lead Russia by 7-1 (one draw) in senior rep side tests since 1993 whilst in Railway Derbies of Soviet Era (1974-90) Moscow edged Tbilissi by 21-17 (5 draws)

  Tsameti Kartveli = Thirteen Georgians

  Locomotivi/Raindebi (Railways/Knights) [15 players]: (Backs) George Assatiani (31), Lexo Gugava, Zviad Koberidze, Sandro Guilauri, Rezo Guigauri, Bidzina Samkharadze, Irakli Ghvinjilia / (Forwards) David Gasviani, Nono Andghuladze, Zviad Maissuradze, Bessik Karabaki, Gregory Nishnianidze, Nicholas Mkheidze, George Trapaidze, Beka Qurashvili

Hooligana [5]: (B) David Jhamutashvili, George Shkinini; (F) Beka Sheqlashvili, George Khossitashvili, Vakhtang Akhvlediani CAPT

Lelo [3]: George Mtchedlishvili, Edisher Jamrulidze, Beka Sardanashvili

Qochebi (Rams) [2]: Mamuka Tskhadadze, Tornike Dzagnidze

University [1]: Irakli Koridze

Coaches: Richard Ale (Samoa), Vinny Webb (England RLEF), Kakha Alania (32, ex CAPT, Loc), Kakha Kobakhidze (35, ex VICE CAPT, Loc)

  Ruskie Medvedi = Russian Bears

  Locomotiv Moscow [16 players]: Serguei Dobrynin, Igor Gavrilin, Irakli Chkhikvadze, Roman Ovchinikov, Eugene Bojhukov, Andrei Dumalkin (33), Oleg Logunov, Andrei Koltykhov, Artiom Grigorian, Ian Gvozdev, Valentin Baskakov, Victor Nechaev (33), Nicholas Zagoskin, Ruslan Izmailov, Robert Iliasov (32), Andrei Jhukov

Strela (Arrow) Kazan (Tatarstan) [7]: Oleg Sokolov, N Gainulin, Rinat Shamsutdinov, Adel Safiulin, Aidar Akhmetshin, A Kuzovkov, A Chulkov

Medvedi (Bears) Verea/Naro Fominsk (Moscow Region) [4]:Alexander Lysenkov, Edward Ososkov, Vladimir Vlasiuk, Oleg Smirnov

Coaches: Eugene Klebanov (51, LocM), Igor Ovchinikov (47, LocM)

2005 European Nations Cup format confirmed

RLEF * Tuesday 27 September 2005

The format and fixture schedule of the 2005 Rugby League European Nations Cup has been confirmed. The six nation tournament will involve France, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Russia and new entrant Georgia competing in two groups of three

It is being staged by the Rugby League European Federation (RLEF) in partnership with the Rugby League governing bodies of the nations hosting fixtures in this year’s event

In a new development for Rugby League,
Georgia will make their debut in the tournament with England now having a revised autumn fixture schedule. Georgia’s entry follows a monitoring process during which the performance of their national team was assessed in fixtures against Holland and Serbia. The final of the tournament - which is now in its third year - will take place in Carcasonne in France on Saturday 5th November

Commenting on the announcement, the Tournament Director Graeme Thompson said: “We believe the 2005 European Nations Cup will be a competitive and exciting tournament and will also assist with the continued development of the sport in Europe

“The tournament is being staged for the third consecutive season and - in line with the RLEF’s strategy - is continuing to develop year on year

“By including Georgia for the first time, the RLEF are demonstrating that opportunities exist for other European Rugby League playing nations and this will further help to stimulate and sustain the sport across the continent

Thompson added: “By staging the final in France we are also breaking new ground and providing an opportunity for another nation to benefit from hosting such a prestigious event

The 2005 European Nations Cup tournament

Group 1: Ireland, Scotland, Wales
Group 2: France,
Georgia, Russia

Saturday 15th October  *  France v Russia – Arles ko 5pm (local time)
Sunday 16th October  *  Wales v Scotland – Brewery Field, Bridgend ko 3pm

Sunday 23rd October  *  Russia v Georgia - Luzniki Stadium, Moscow ko 3pm
Sunday 23rd October  *  Scotland v Ireland – Glasgow Hawks RFC ko 2.30pm

Saturday 29th October  *  Ireland v Wales – Terenure College RFC, Dublin ko 3pm
Sunday 30th October  *  Georgia v France - National Vake Stadium, Tbilissi ko 7pm (local time)

Saturday 5th November  *  European Nations Cup Final, Carcassonne, ko 7pm [from FFR XIII]


Georgia  44-12  Serbia

   Georgia: 1 George Assatiani; 2 Zviad Koberidze, 3 Sandro Guilauri, 4 George Koberidze, 5 David Jhamutashvili; 6 Kakha Alania CAPT, 7 Bidzina Samkharadze /
  8 David Gasviani, 9 Nono Andghuladze, 10 Zviad Maissuradze; 11 Nika Mkheidze, 12 Lexo Gugava, 13 Kakha Kobakhidze;
  (int) 14 Otar Eloshvili, 15
George Khossitashvili, 16 Fridon Udessiani, 17 Edisher Jamrulidze -
8T: Guilauri two (1st  4th), Andghuladze, Gasviani, Samkharadze, Z Koberidze, Gugava, Mkheidze; 6G: Kobakhidze

  Serbia: 1 Vladimir Radulovic; 2 Mate Granic, 3 Dalibor Vukanovic, 4 Marko Zebeljan, 5 Marko Mladenovic; 6 Ivan Susnjara, 7 Jovan Vujosevic /
  8 Radoslav Novakovic
CAPT, 9 Zoran Pesic, 10 Djordje Kostic; 11 Darko Nerandzic, 12 Nemanja Popsogorovic, 13 Soni Radovanovic;
  (int) 14 Milos Kovac, 15 Milan Djordjevic, 16 Nemanja Djordjevic, 17 Marko Jankovic -
2T: Popsogorovic, Pesic; 2G: Vukanovic

  Ref: Paul Carr; TJs: Liam Todd & Dave Tidman (ENG)
  Scoring Sequence (GEO first): 6-0(9') 10-0(11) 16-0(21) 22-0(26) 26-0(34) / 32-0(46) 38-0(50) 38-6(64) 38-12(71) 44-12(77)
  Sunday, 24 July, 2005. Tbilissi, National Stadium; Crowd: some 7 thousand


Georgia wins the inaugural
European Nations Qualifying Tournament!

[edited]  RLEF * Sunday 24 July 2005


Georgia won the inaugural European Nations Qualifying Tournament with a superb 44-12, eight try victory over Serbia in front of over 8,000 wildly ecstatic fans in the National Stadium in the capital Tbilissi on Sunday evening

The match, which was broadcast live on national television, was watched by European Nations Tournament Director Graeme Thompson and Development Officer Kevin Rudd and
initial indications are that the pair will recommend the Georgians inclusion as the sixth team in this autumn’s full European Nations competition subject to off field guarantees and assurances

The first international to be played on Georgian soil saw the crowd treated to a spectacular pre-match show with local
drum-beating and horns preceding a huge firework display which appeared like a waterfall over the roofs of the oval stands. The crowd became even more animated when the host side performed their newly-devised ‘haka’ (Perkhuli) before putting on an outstanding display

Centre Guilauri led the way with two tries for the Georgians, the others coming from Anghuladze, Maissuradze, Samkharadze, Z Koberidze, Gugava and Mkheidze while loosie Kobakhidze kicked six goals

For the Serbians, who were competitive throughout, London Skolars scrum half Pesic and
emerging star Popsogorovic touched down with Vukanovic, who is also on loan in the capital, kicking two goals

Graeme Thompson commented,
“The quality of the play was outstanding in what was a truly marvellous spectacle. We will be doing everything we can to help the code grow and prosper in the country because it appears the demand for the sport is here”

In the earlier matches Georgia beat Holland 34-14 while the Dutch won in Serbia 26-10 in
significant advances for Rugby League in Europe

Georgia  34-14  Netherlands

   Georgia: 1 Irakli Machkhaneli, 2 David Jhamutashvili, 3 George Koberidze, 4 Luke Khachirashvili, 5 Sandro Guilauri; 6 Kakha Alania CAPT, 7 Irakli Ghvinjilia /
   8 George Khossitashvili, 9 Nono Andghuladze, 10 Temur Kobelashvili; 11 George Trapaidze, 12 Vakhtang Akhvlediani, 13 Kakha Kobakhidze;
   (int) 14 George Assatiani, 15 Bessik Karabaki, 16 Gregory Nishnianidze, 17 Edisher Jamrulidze -
 7T: Koberidze three (1 5 7), Machkhaneli two (2 6), Guilauri, Khossitashvili; 3G:

   Netherlands: 1 Cyril Brienburg, 2 Kees Foxton, 3 Joel Barrett, 4 James Barkel, 5 Julien Treu; 6 Jorik Moree CAPT, 7 Aaron de Jeager /
   8 Alex Smit, 9 Bev Williamson, 10 Reiner Brienburg; 11 Ronald van der Broek, 12 Martyn Jonkers, 13 Rudy Stanford;
(int) 14 Johnny Qua, 15 Raymond den Englesman, 16 Daan Kloppenburg, 17 Duncan van Dam -
3T: Williamson, C Breinburg, Barrett; G:
De Jeager

   Ref: Robert Hicks; TJs: Phil Smith & Gary Towey (ENG)
   Best: Machkhaneli &
   Scoring Sequence (GEO first): 4-0 10-0 10-6 14-6 / 14-10 20-10 24-10 28-10 28-14 34-14
   Friday, 29 April, 2005. Hoek van Holland; Crowd: 327

Thanx to: David Franguishvili (Georgian Radio 1)
Kakha Alania (GeoXIII Captain)
Phil Caplan (RLEF Media Liaison)
George Assatiani (GeoXIII Manager)

Qoute Mix

Sources RLEF  and Total`RL Fans Forum

@ [about] PERKHULI

They even have a Georgian "haka". It's fantastic. Starts with one raging bloke [old war-horse Kakha Kobakhidze] surrounded by a revolving circle of his teammates. Then they all break ranks and advance on the opposition. Makes the Kiwi one look like an invitation to afternoon tea at the vicarage

@ KOBERA, Uni back, neglected so far in Union even by GEO 7s

Centre George Koberidze took the scoring honours with a sensational three try  performance while full back Irakli MachKHaneli was superb throughout

@ MANCHKHO, (Union) LELOS regular starter

Not enough to earn him Man of the Match though, IrakLi MachKHaneli dominated  the game and was at the root of virtually every scoring move. National League  clubs would do well to have a look at this pacey full back

@ General knowledge of rugby

Brushing off the 2 000 mile trip from Tbilissi, by half time the application of the Georgians obvious rugby nouse, better ball control and more ‘full on’ approach to scrummaging shone through

@  Meagre (by GEO standards) crowd  & Sour grapes

A crowd of 327 watched Georgia make their international debut in a game that showed that pace takes some beating

A new Dutch side that had been together for only three days played a Georgia team that consisted of nine international union players
[+  who had never played League before for the absence of another League team in their vicinity and for cancelling their French boot-camp. English guru Vinny Webb had just two-days-and-a-half to adjust Geo XIII game plan. According to the lads they were about to choke during opening quarter but then they caught with League's rhythm and finished off the opposition  +]

The understanding and speed of the Georgian team proved to be the desicive factor as they withstood some constant Dutch pressure to break away time and time again and finish over the whitewash
[try line]

@ RLEF Appraisal

Presenting the O’Sheas International Challenge Trophy, European Nations tournament director Graeme Thompson paid tribute to the heartening organisation and positive nature of the event:

"It was a fantastic game, full of enthusiasm and no lack of skill.
Both countries have made good progress and will undoubtedly make more"

@ Dedication of NNRLB Founder

Spare a thought for Dutch RL General Manager, Ian Thompson. Having moved mountains to get through the mountain of organisation, whilst the rest of the country took the Saturday off for the Koninginne-nacht festival, Ian had to return to Hook to take the rugby posts down. That’s the way it has to be in Holland

@ Future

In a three-way tournament the Georgians will now play Serbia later this year [probably in June], with the prize being participation in this autumn’s European Nations Cup against five other nations - Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Russia and France - subject to the Rugby League European Federation being satisfied that they have the ability and resources to compete at that level


Georgia  34-14  Holland

BBC * Friday, 29 April, 2005, 19:22 GMT

Centre George Koberidze scored four (actually only three!) tries as Georgia beat Holland 34-14 in Rotterdam in the first qualifying match for the 2005 European Nations Cup

"It was a fantastic game, full of enthusiasm and no lack of skill," said tournament director Graeme Thompson

Serbia are also trying to qualify for the Nations Cup and face both Georgia and Holland in the next few months. The winner of the qualifying series will join Russia, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France in the main event

European Nations Cup

RLEF * Thursday 28 April 2005

The Rugby League European Federation (RLEF) can confirm that Serbia, Holland and Georgia have been given an opportunity to participate in the 2005 European Nations Cup tournament (ENC ’05)

The three ‘new’ League playing countries are set to meet one another in a number of ‘qualifying’ matches between now and July - with the first of these, involving Holland and Georgia, taking place this Friday evening in Rotterdam (29th April 2005). The dates and venues for the remaining fixtures are currently being finalised

After these games, the RLEF will make an assessment of the nations’ playing performances as well as the quality of their financial and personnel infrastructure. Whilst the
RLEF will retain the right not to admit any of the countries, it is hoped that one of them will demonstrate the appropriate levels of growth and readiness and will be able to participate

The opportunity to admit one of the countries has arisen following the decision that the England team will have a separate fixture list

The current participants in ENC ’05 are
France, Russia, Wales, Scotland and Ireland

Commenting on the news, the Rugby League European Federation Development Officer Kevin Rudd said: “These games between Serbia, Holland and Georgia will provide a good bench mark for the level of development of Rugby League in these countries and will assist them in gaining government support to develop the sport in their respective nations''

“These fixtures could also be an important element of the overall growth of Rugby League throughout Europe which is progressing extremely well”

The details and results of these fixtures will appear on the Rugby League European Federation website
in due course


Georgia Rugby League

RLEF * Thursday 28 April 2005

At dawn on Wednesday 27th April, 'Tsameti Kartveli' (13 Georgians) flew out of their capital, Tbilisi, to make their international rugby league debut

(+ converted ) ‘Lelos’ play Holland on Friday in Hoek van Holland although the code is not altogether unknown to them

In 1993 a provincial club moved from the Georgia RU to the Russia RL and from the mid-1990s Australian RL action has been available via cable TV in certain fashionable districts of the country’s capital

Following on from those developments, in June 2004 Paata Tsintsadze, a licensed sports agent and entrepreneur who had moved from Georgia to France 10 years ago, set up Georgia Rugby League (GRL) which has already been officially incorporated and recognized by the State Sports Ministry

He then set about securing the services of legendary half back David Kilassonia as coaching manager and Nodar Andghuladze as CEO

David's club University started to regularly practice League from late September and Nodar convinced his team-mates at Locomotivi (Railways RC) to have a crack at a new sport and founded the Raindebi Knight

GRL devised a logo based on the Caucasian falcon and had the rule book translated into their native language as well as establishing a bi-lingual website 

Once the country’s rugby union season was over, University and Knights became exclusively committed to League and were joined by a third club Hooligana RC

GRL then appointed Samoan Richard Ale as their national coach and development officer

After testing more than 60 trialists, he selected 26 of them for 'Pirvelebi' (Originals) and for the last two months they have been working on their skills and fitness in readiness for their eagerly awaited international bow

The 17-strong squad that travelled to the Netherlands includes five full Lelos and nine under 19/21’s and they have even developed their own haka called 'Perkhuli' (footwork)

The war-dance originates from Georgian folk tradition and was adapted for rugby by Iliko Sukhishvil Jnr, current leader of world famous Georgian National Ballet

From Leagby up to the League

'13 Georgians' Closing on the Promised Land

Qaflan XIII News *  28 April 2005

At the dawn on Wednesday, 27 Arpil 2005 'Tsameti Kartveli' (13 Georgians) flew out of their Capital, Tbilissi to make their international debut. They, the newest Georgian national side are to take on 'Oranje of Holland' on Friday evening at the coastal town of Hoek, would you believe, in Rugby League, a game new to both, very distant from each other European nations

Georgians are very proud of their Rugby. They has been playing the Noble Game continously for already full 45 years. They have not a single rugby field or scrum machine in the whole country but their national side, the 'Lelos' nevertheless made 2003 Rugby World Cup Finals (20 team competition), held in Australia and represented the whole of ex-USSR with distinction

Now, one would say, it is Working People Game's turn. The same Aussie-land hosts League World Cup come 2008. So, ever hopeful and ethusiastic Caucasian followers of oval ball intend to prove to the whole enlightened World that in an era when only two Rugbys: 13-a-side League and 15-a-side Leagby are left as valuable shows for egg-shaped ball adherents and a reasonable job opportunities for them as well, they could be equally good at a Game they took seriously up just before new Year drinkfest

Saying this, it should be noted that League was not altogether unknown to Georgians. As early as 1991 a certain caucasian guy used to play loose forward with newly emerged russian league club. Then in 1993 a certain club from a certain provincial town defected from Georgia RU to Russia RL and were promptly banned by the authorities, as the then existing strict Sham-Amateur Regulations required

Since mid-1990s ARL action has been available via cable TV in certain fashionable districts of the Capital. The local sporting press which have a decent tradition of covering top-flight international rugby, used to gave mention to the 'prodigal son of rugby', mostly in connection with Union star's poaching by 'League vultures'. And then, when the Lelos travelled to Australia and won the hearts of public thanks to their un-conventional, un-georgian-ly colourful, jester-like jerseys, the smart guys from international League's development circles approached them about getting tested in the 'True version of Rugby'

The proposal did not go un-noticed. As story has it, Mr Paata Tsintsadze, a licensed sports agent and live-show entrepreneur who had moved from Georgia to France some 10 years ago, was contacted by RLEF and sent on mission to his motherland in September 2004. Here he caught up with whom else but disenchanted strong men within the Union faithful. By the way, this kind of kind people are everywhere in the Rugby world and should be actively targeted by League in order to spread 13-a-side, six-tackle, play-the-ball, no-pushing-in-scrum gospel!

As it emerged later, by June 2004 Georgia Rugby League (GRL) has already been officially incorporated and recognized by State Sports Ministry as Paata's friends had done all the necessary paper-work. As for Founding Father Tsintsadze, he contacted the right people from the outset having secured services of legendary halfback David Kilassonia as coaching manager and vigourous young man, himself acting Lelo, Nodar Andghuladze as CEO

And they did the job. David's club University started to regularly practice League from late September. Then Nodar convinced his team-mates from Locomotivi (Railways RC) to have a crack at a new game and founded Raindebi (Knights). GRL has been given observer status with RLEF in mid-October. By this time they have already drawn a falcon-shaped logo, ably translated and nicely printed Lawbook in Georgian (note that RLEF currently are seeking people who would do the same in Spanish and Portuguese, ie languages spoken by 80 times more people than Georgian), produced two promo booklets, held several press-calls and established bi-lingual website

Once Union season was over, University and Knights became committed exclusively to League. Soon they were joined by the third party, Hooligana RC. As GRL could not get a mentor from overseas they have appointed a Samoan national, Mr Richard Ale as their coach, tutor, development officer etc etc. Richie, formerly a Leaguey and lately a Union player with Nodar's Locomotivi, works as Head of Security with United Nations Mission in Georgia and does League activities voluntarily, gratis, in his spare time

Richy drew a master plan. He tested more than 60 would-be-Leagueys and selected 26 of them for 'Pirvelebi' (Originals) who were to make a trip to 'Rugby a XIII' hotbed, Catalan region (France) and have there a crash-course with Aussie gurus, the likes of Trent Robertson and Mick Aldous. Unfortunately, this GRL project failed dismally due to lack of funds albeit GRL were admitted as full members by RLEF in mid-February, at their London meeting

Before that RLEF Head of Development Kevin Rudd visited Georgia and got impressed with locals' potential. Since Catalan campaign fell apart the League lads were naturally disappointed. To rub the salt into their wounds, at the same time three totally different Union selections, 80 Georgians in all, travelled to three corners of the Globe, Hong Kong (China), Flandres (France) and Kwazulu Natal (South Africa) thus prompting soul-searching within 'Tsameti Kartveli' who were sincere in their intension to test themselves in unchartered waters of League

Nevertheless the Leagueys kept practicing for another two months. They did skills and fitness exercises as ferventy as ever. They are a bunch of tough, dedicated guys after all. And now the lads are about to get to their Promised Land. GRL ad hoc Board still managed to accumulate enough money to cover for the Holland journey which coincides with Koninginne-Nacht, truly a boon for competition-starved Georgia XIII

Guru Ale announced his inaugural, 17-strong squad on Monday. It includes five full Lelos and nine U19/21 Lelos. They represent five rugby clubs. They even have their own haka, called 'Perkhuli' (footwork) and intend to unleash it on their opponents at first opportunity. The war-dance originates from Georgian folk dance and was adapted for rugby by Iliko Sukhishvil Jnr, current leader of world famous Georgian National Ballet. The League boys have been rehearsing it fervently for already two months keeping in mind that so far no Georgian team had had any similar pre-match rite

'13 Georgians' are strong, able and committed lads. They are a Team. They really know how to play modern, phase-by-phase, rucking Leagby. They hope they can play 'League proper' as well and are counting on equal treatment from a Britton who will be entrusted with whistle and tackle-counting

Fair Play, Please! Long Live League, esp International one, RLEF version!


Georgian Rugby League

RLEF *  Monday 25 April 2005

Georgia’s players, who are gearing up for their international debut in Holland this Friday, have been further boosted by the unveiling of their playing shirt

Based on the national flag, the kit has struck a resonance with the players who are desperate prove themselves a force in the code

Nodar Anghuladze, the Georgia R.L Chief Executive and a key driving force behind the spread of the code in the Tbilissi area commented, “Our flag is similar to England’s but with four Georgian crosses in the corners

“The symbol in white is our royal coat of arms and we were given the rights to wear it by our royal family Bagrationi, and we will wear it with pride

“The colour of the badge is blue and sky blue which represents the sea and sky and the logo itself is in the shape of Caucasian falcon

“We think it is a really beautiful jersey”

Although they have only been together for a short time, Georgia’s Samoan-born coach Richard Ale is confident of success

Ale, who is in the country as part of the UN Observer Mission, and spends much of his time in Abkhazia, said, "I believe and trust in my players

“They are so enthusiastic and eager to play and learn about the game

“They are very disciplined, and that gives me encouragement"


Georgian Debut Confirmed

RLEF  *  Thursday 07 April 2005

Arrangements have now been finalised for Georgia to become the next country to  join the International Rugby League fraternity. The men from Tbilissi will travel to Holland to face the Netherlands on Friday 29th April at VV Hoekse Boys soccer ground in the Hoek van Holland (kick off  7.30pm)

The NNRLB are hoping for a big crowd for what is the start of a holiday  weekend to celebrate the Queen’s birthday and are confident the ground will  become a sea of Oranje in support of the home country

The evening will start with a schools coaching clinic when around 100 under 12’s will be introduced to the sport

For their part, the Georgians have invited Sandra Roelofs, the country’s First Lady, to be a guest at the game. Mrs Roelofs is Dutch born and married to the Georgian
President Michael Saakashvili

Local television will cover the match which is
another first for the Dutch
who will again be coached by Keith Davies

He is hoping to build on last year’s victory over Serbia and his 20 man squad, 18 of whom were born in the country, has been considerably strengthened with the inclusion of Kees Foxon (Nottingham Outlaws), James Barkley (Bondi United) and Aaron de Jager (Robertson Spuddies)


Georgia to make international debut

TotalRL *   Monday, April 4, 2005

The former Soviet Republic of Georgia will take its place on the Rugby League international stage when the country - which became independent after the breakup of the Soviet Union - takes on the Netherlands at the VV Hoekse Boys soccer ground in the Hook van Holland on Friday 29 April

The evening will start with a schools’ coaching clinic, when around 100 under 12’s players will be introduced to Rugby League

In a smart PR move, the Georgian Rugby League has invited Sandra Roelofs, the country’s First Lady, who is Dutch born but is married to the Georgian Premier
(to PRESIDENT Michael Saakashvili, to be more precise), to the game

The Dutch, who defeated Serbia last year, have selected a 20-man squad, 18 of whom were born in Holland

European Federation confirms
European Nations Cup for 2005

TotalRL  *   Friday, February 18, 2005

Rugby League's European Nations Cup will be staged for the third successive year this autumn

Delegates at the Rugby League European Federation meeting in London confirmed on Friday that the tournament will be played and that the final will be held on the weekend of November 5-6

The delegates also discussed the possibility of seeking funding from the European Community to assist with coach education, training of match officials and community development programmes

Richard Lewis, the European Federation Chairman and Executive Chairman of the Rugby Football League, said: "We have reached an exciting stage in the development of the sport within Europe

"Today's meeting was very positive and it was pleasing to hear about the increasing number of countries throughout Europe where Rugby League has been officially recognised as a sport

"While we were able to confirm that the successful European Nations Cup will be played again, we are still at the detailed planning stage as far as other projects are concerned

"There are some very exciting plans in the pipeline and we expect to be in a position to make more announcements in the weeks to come

"It was a well attended meeting and I am very encouraged at the progress our sport is making throughout Europe"

Representatives from 11 countries: England, France, Georgia, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Lebanon, Morocco, Serbia, Scotland and Wales attended the meeting


Georgia keen to join league elite

BBC  *  Thursday, 17 February, 2005

Georgia is the latest country being tipped to make a big splash in the world of rugby league

The nation will be among 12 represented at Friday's Rugby League European Federation (RLEF) meeting in London

"The Georgian style of play will be perfect for rugby league," said RLEF development officer Kevin Rudd

Also present will be delegates from Germany, France, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, Morocco, Scotland, Russia, Serbia and Wales

Rudd visited Georgia in response to the country's request for membership of the RLEF

And after a fact-finding mission to Tbilisi he believes rugby league could prosper in the country, which is looking for teams to play matches there

"Georgia traditionally has links with France and currently has more than 60 players plying their trade professionally within French rugby union," said Rudd

"The challenge to establish rugby league in Georgia will be tough, but they are prepared for this. The RLEF will now seek suitable structured international opposition for Georgia"

Friday's meeting will also be attended by federation chairman Richard Lewis, executive chairman of the Rugby Football League, and vice-chairman Nicolas Larrat, of France


Georgia Rugby League

RLEF * Friday 11 February 2005

European Development Officer, Kevin Rudd has just returned from a fact finding mission to Georgia and believes Rugby League could prosper in that country

The visit was arranged to the capital city of Tbilisi after Georgia made an approach to become members of the Rugby League European Federation (RLEF)

During the visit Rudd met with several organisations interested in further establishing the game which included the National TV network, the fledging Georgian Rugby League organisation and the sports Minister, Mr David Namgalauri

A meeting was also held with representatives from Georgian rugby clubs including; Telavi, Tbilissi Knights, Tbilissi State University, Dighomi, Qochebi

Commenting on the visit, Kevin Rudd said: "Georgian Rugby League Chief Executive, Nodar Anghuladze and President, Paata Tsintsadze are both enthusiastic and dynamic in their approach and have already gathered together a high calibre of rugby players for their fledging National Rugby League team

"Georgia traditionally has links with France and currently has over 60 players plying their trade professionally within French Rugby Union"

Rudd added: "The general rugby skills of the players have reached a high level, and the Georgian style of play will be perfect for Rugby League. They are all big, tough, powerful and agile guys

"The challenge to establish Rugby League in Georgia will be tough but the Georgian National Rugby League are prepared for this as they take their first steps into the sport

"The RLEF will now seek suitable structured international opposition for Georgia and assist with the establishing of the sport in the nation"

The Georgian Rugby League authorities are themselves seeking teams to be the first overseas Rugby League opposition to visit the country

The progress of Georgian Rugby League will be discussed at the next meeting of the Rugby League European Federation. This takes place in London on Friday 18 February 2005

Rugby league takes off in Georgia

Newly-formed federation confident of success,
but a rocky road, and rocky pitches, lie ahead

The Georgian Messenger *
Friday, January 21, 2005, #011 (0785)

By James Phillips

The Georgian rugby league team, brought together only three months ago, is aiming to qualify for the next World Cup in 2008, and Samoan coach Richard Ale says that, although the team is yet to play a match, "they will succeed"

Although rugby union has a long history in Georgia, and the Georgian team reached the 2003 World Cup in Australia, rugby league only appeared in the country last year

Rugby league is a different game from rugby union, with only thirteen players on each side instead of fifteen, and numerous different rules: just as American football and rugby, though descendants of the same game, are today markedly different sports, so too are the two codes of rugby - union and league

In Georgia, rugby league was entirely unknown until six months ago, when French based rugby enthusiast Paata Tsintsadze set up the Georgian Rugby League Federation, which was immediately accepted as a member of the European and International Rugby League Federations

Today, there are already four Tbilisi-based clubs which will compete for the Georgian club championship in March or April; and Tsintsadze hopes that more clubs will emerge over the coming months, including regional teams in Kutaisi, Batumi, and Guria, which has a strong tradition of rugby union

Furthermore, a national squad, comprised for the most part of rugby union converts such as Nodar Andguladze, who last year was playing rugby union for the national team but is now Chief Executive Officer of the newly-formed Georgian Rugby League Federation, is currently preparing for matches against two French clubs in February, followed by their first international fixture in May against the Netherlands

As chairman of the Georgian Federation, Tsintsadze will be attending a meeting of the European Rugby League Federation on February 18 in London, and top of the agenda will be for Georgia to take part in the qualification rounds for the 2008 World Cup

"Georgia has every chance of qualifying," says Tsintsadze, adding that sixteen countries will qualify, and that although Georgia may not be in a position to challenge the 'Big Three' of the sport - Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain - he expects the team to compete on equal terms with other international teams

"They will succeed," enthuses coach Richard Ale, who is in Georgia as part of the UN Observer Mission, and spends much of his time in Abkhazia

"I believe and trust in my players. They are so enthusiastic and eager to play and learn about the game. They are very disciplined, and this gives me encouragement," he says. "If we have the facilities - the pitch, the equipment, and so on - we will be much better than those teams that have everything"

This, though, is a big if, because the rugby league federation faces financial problems which are inevitable for a newly-formed organization, especially in a country such as Georgia, where there are so many other things than sport for the government to prioritize

Tsintsadze is positive about the future, however, saying that "we have very good relations with the authorities"

"They have offered us better training facilities in Guria. That is one reason why I am here," he says: although he regularly visits Georgia, Tsintsadze still lives in France, where he moved fifteen years ago

A better pitch, in particular, is a major priority. Their current pitch is full of stones and rocks, and all the players carry scars from playing on it

"My son is six years old," says Andguladze, "and I am wondering when he will start playing rugby. He won't play, until we have a good field," he declares

"I am still a player so I know what the players need," he adds. "I want to give to league players what I never had playing rugby union"

Tsintsadze hopes that he will be able to win funding from the European Federation at February's meeting, and adds that the Georgian Federation already has private partners eager to sponsor the team

He notes, too, that Australia have recently set up a special partnership with Tonga, whereby the bigger federation helps the smaller to develop. Tsintsadze hopes that a similar partnership could be set up with France, where there are some 68 Georgian rugby union players contacted to clubs, although not as yet any rugby league players

Indeed, the high number of rugby union players abroad is one reason why Tsintsadze decided to set up the rugby league federation

As Andguladze explains, they hope that rugby league will "offer hope to Georgian players that have been left behind." Their federation will only, initially at least, include Georgia-based players in the national squad, and it is hoped that through this those players who do not have the luxury of contracts with European clubs will be exposed to potential employers

"The players need security," says Ale. "This is the priority for them - at this stage"

And Tsintsadze wants to extend this hope to the regions, where, he says, "they have nothing." Western Georgia, in particular, has a long history of producing international rugby union players, and he hopes that the rugby league team may be able to tap into this talent

For rugby league to take off, however, the sport needs coverage - particularly television coverage. "If rugby is not broadcast live on TV, it will die, not matter how much effort we put in," says Ale

But the federation faces several barriers in seeking to generate interest in the sport through television broadcasts. The federation has been granted free rights to broadcast Australian club rugby, and expects to receive the rights to Europe's most prestigious competition - the Superleague - again free, in the near future

The problem, Tsintsadze explains, is the tradition in Georgia of having to pay television channels to broadcast programs. The federation, he says, just does not have the money to do this

Such an attitude on the part of different channels, the federation believes, is difficult to understand. After all, rugby union is the second most popular sport in Georgia, after football, and so it is reasonable to expect that rugby league would find an immediate audience

Andguladze is sure Georgians would enjoy the sport. "Rugby league is very exciting," he enthuses. "You are more involved and get on the ball more; it is more dynamic and faster - this makes the game more exciting"

With financial uncertainties, and problems getting the word across to the Georgian public, the Rugby League Federation certainly has obstacles to overcome in achieving its aim of making the sport popular in the country

But overcoming these problems will prove easier should the Georgian team achieve the ambitious aim of winning through to the 2008 World Cup, and Ale, Andguladze, and Tsintsadze are all confident that they can

RLEF are impressed by Georgian plans

SuperLeague  *  3 October, 2004

[England's] Rugby Football League (RFL) Executive Chairman Richard Lewis was elected as the new chairman of the sport's European Federation (RLEF) in Paris [on Oct 1st]

Lewis said [about Georgians]: "They have made great progress and we're impressed by their plans for the future

"They have support from the Georgian Ministry of Sport and that is very encouraging

"It was agreed by the Federation that the Georgia Rugby League be recognised as the governing body for the sport in Georgia and Mr Paata Tsintsadze's presentation made it clear that Georgia are on track to be active members of the Federation within a year

"Furthermore Georgia will be invited to all of the European Federation's meetings and be included in all the Federation's activities from now on"