On Monday a question popped up on our You Tube channel regarding Georgia in what I am referring to as The Georgian Question.
This question came out of the blue, without prompt, which makes me think it is like the elephant in the room. It is the question everyone knows is there, but no one wants to answer. Answering this question possibly puts a few organisations in difficult positions. The question came from Fergal Mcnamara “Have ye any suggestions on how to incorporate Georgia into rugby’s global strategy?“. To me, this is an on point question. It is one that needs to be addressed and it needs to be addressed quickly.
Have ye any suggestions on how to incorporate Georgia into rugby’s global strategy?
Why do you say? Why does it matter if The Georgian Question is answered? Alternatively, why does it matter if it is never answered?
Answering this question is of the utmost importance because without an answer the mantra “global game” is just a mantra. It has little substance. Or at least, it doesn’t have as much substance as it would if the question were answered.
I was fortunate enough to spend a significant amount of time in Georgia on a bicycle journey from the UK to NZ. Visiting places by bicycle opens you up to experiences that you would not otherwise have. At the forefront of most conversations was rugby. Essentially asking The Georgian Question. In fairness, I didn’t get a lot of change out of my questions outside of Tbilisi, but I certainly got feedback there. The feedback was unanimous, they want a crack at the big boys on a regular basis.
So where do we start with The Georgian Question? The best place, in my opinion, is the World Rankings. Let’s take a look at them here…
If you look closely at the World Rankings you will notice that the spread between New Zealand and Ireland is a huge 9.82 points. But the Irish beat the All Blacks last year and although the All Blacks would go into the match if it was held today as heavy favourites, you could not write off the Irish.
Taking this analogy, if you add 9.82 points to the Georgian tally you end up with 83.23 points, somewhere in between Australia and Scotland. Extrapolating this out, it stands to reason that Georgia have every chance of beating those two teams. Or is this a pipe dream? If it is, then what do the World Rankings really mean? For me, it is not a pipe dream, it is a reality that could pan out with the correct planning.
Looking at the rankings another way, the spread from New Zealand to Argentina is a whopping 17.21 points, yet Argentina were leading the All Blacks over the weekend into the second half. So there is a spread of 17.21 points across this year’s Rugby Championship.
The spread across the Six Nations teams at this point in time is 19.14 between England and Italy. It does not take a rocket scientist to see that Georgia are actually within that spread.
And a third way of looking at the points is that the spread from Italy to 20th seed Russia is less than the spread between New Zealand and South Africa who lock horns in a top of the table this very Saturday.
Now that the stats have been painted it is worth looking at the Six Nations, and when I mean look at them, what I really mean is look at the teams to collect the Wooden Spoon. Since the inception of the Six Nations there have been four Wooden Spoon holders. Only England and Ireland avoided this fate. Italy leads the way with 12 titles, Scotland (who I have to say are still the Five Nations champions) have collected it four times, with France and Wales being victorious once each.
As you can see the Wooden Spoon has been shared around. Yes, it is heavily Italian, but it has been shared around. Which brings me to my solution to this question.
I see the solution as a very simple one. In fact, it might be too simple, but here goes anyway.
The team that wins the Wooden Spoon in the Six Nations faces the winner of the Rugby Europe Championship. The match is played at the home of the winner of the Rugby Europe Championship and it is a one off, winner takes all promotion-relegation match. If that match had taken place this season it would have been in Bucharest with Romania taking on the Italians.
Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best and I firmly believe that this is the best solution. It would add excitement for the fans, particularly in the Rugby Europe Championship countries. But most importantly it would spread the game to places it hasn’t been taken before.
It is not out of the realms that a World Champion England could be facing Georgia away in Tbilisi one day, not as winners of the Wooden Spoon, but in a legitimate Six Nations match. Now that would be a reason to head back the Caucasus and embrace the hospitality once more.
Please let us know your thoughts on this. Have I missed something fundamental? Is it not that simple? Or, is it really that simple?
From The Shed
For more Q&A action, check out the following Podcast and YouTube video.
Author: Steven Prescott
I am a total sports fanatic; it is as simple as that. I love all sports, and when I’m not sitting at my computer living my dream with The 1014, I am planning adventures. The last time I did this I ended up convincing my wife to cycle 26,125km across three continents, and 22 countries with me as part of the Pedalling Prescotts.