13 Feb 2018 - 15:17
Georgia’s national rugby team is in the United Kingdom to train with England, in a rare opportunity for the Lelos to face top-tier competition.
Nearly 30 players of the Georgian team travelled to London on Sunday for a three-day training program pitting them against the top second team in the World Rugby ranking.
First proposed by the hosts’ head coach Eddie Jones last year, the training sessions received the green light from rugby authorities of both sides in recent months.
Jones’ initiative is aimed at testing the English team against the scrum of the Lelos, which the Australian called "the strongest scrum pack in the world” In a conversation with The Telegraph last month.
In the interview, Jones cited the physical prowess of the Georgian team as an opportunity for his squad to improve their game for the bid of winning a record-breaking third Six Nations title in a row.
On his part, Georgia’s head coach Milton Haig cited the opportunity to learn from the host team’s organisation and management, among other topics.
Haig also told reporters his coaching team wanted to benefit more from the sessions than simply help Jones’ team in their training goals.
The New Zealander said the format for the training that resulted from the talks was designed to provide both sides with opportunities.
Georgia scored seven tries to cruise past Belgium with a score 47-0 on Saturday in Kutaisi. Photo: Gogita Bukhaidze/Georgian Rugby.
One detail that changed in the talks since the interview was the place of the proposed trainings, amended from Georgia to England.
For England, the joint sessions come in the week following their 12-6 win against Wales on Saturday, while Georgia crushed Belgium in a Rugby Europe match that ended 47-0 in western Georgian city of Kutaisi the same day.
The Lelos have been looking for opportunities to play against the world’s top sides to build on their momentum of constantly improving results in recent years.
This has included pushing for a place in the Six Nations tournament in the wake of the country's recent progress on the European rugby scene.
While the elite competition remains closed for teams like Georgia and Romania, Haig and his management team have booked friendly matches and trainings with high-ranking sides.
Georgia will face Australia as well as Wales among other competitors in their 2019 Rugby World Cup pool.