Georgia have once again won the Rugby Europe Championship after a clinical display against Portugal.
As they are now used to, Georgia headed into the encounter as firm favourites and were expected to win their 6th title on the spin.
After weathering an early Portugues storm, the Georgians kicked on to a convincing 38-11 victory, and with it the Rugby Europe Championship.
— Rugby Europe (@rugby_europe) March 19, 2023
Staggeringly, Georgia have now won 11 out of the past 12 Championships – posing the question over who is benefiting from Georgia’s involvement in the REC.
Before delving into the age old question of weather Georgia should be included in The Six Nations (in some form), it is important to note that the quality of rugby in the REC is improving.
Portugal have qualified for the 2023 Rugby World Cup and Belgium have recently hired Mike Ford as first team head coach – which shows their intentions in the sport.
However, when looking at the cold facts, it is clear that Georgia are leagues above their current opponents.
Georgia are 29 matches unbeaten, have won the last 6 REC (11 out of the last 12) and most notably have wins against Wales and Italy under their belt since 2022.
Their recent REC triumph has also propelled them into their joint highest ever World Rugby ranking – 11th.
The fact that Georgia have proven they can get results against teams currently in the six nations strengthened the case for their involvement in the competition – which many thinking it was a question of ‘if’ not ‘when’.
🏆 RUGBY EUROPE CHAMPIONS 🏆
Congratulations to Georgia for winning their 15th Rugby Europe Championship title!
It is their SIXTH consecutive title!
The calls for a Six Nations relegation playoff match grow.
— RugbyInsideLine (@RugbyInsideLine) March 19, 2023
However, to no fault of their own, it seems as though momentum for their inclusion has stalled slightly.
Despite not chalking up a win in this year’s tournament, Italy have vastly improved in the last couple of seasons and are no longer being embarrassed each week.
What’s more, they are now a team that fans want to watch, in part due to international superstar Ange Capuozzo.
Georgia equal all-time high 11th place 📊
The Lelos are unbeaten in 29 matches in @rugby_europe Championship 👏
The World Rugby Men's Rankings powered by @Capgemini
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) March 20, 2023
Currently, it does not look like anything will happen soon regarding Georgia, the six nations and relegation/promotion with the REC.
However, all Georgia can do is keep proving to the world that they are brilliant rugby nation that can’t be ignored for much longer.
One can’t help but think the 2023 RWC will be pivotal in understanding how close Georgia are to elite teams.