Rugby: Lelos to face world champions All Blacks

Georgia's national rugby team are the 2014 European Nations Cup champions; Photo by N. Alavidze, 17 Mar 2014 - 20:00, Tbilisi,Georgia

World champions New Zealand are going to go head to head with Georgia at the 2015 Rugby World Cup after the Lelos beat Romania in Tbilisi on Saturday and won the European Nations Cup.

The Georgians’ Saturday’s performance in front of 27,000 fans was assessed as "titanic” on the All Blacks’ website, which stated "October 2, 2015 has suddenly become a big day in Georgia’s sporting calendar as they will face the All Blacks in the famous Millennium Stadium in Cardiff for what will surely be one of the great Rugby World Cup occasions.”

In addition to New Zealand, Georgia will play Tonga on September 19, Argentina six days later and the Africa 1 qualifier – yet to be determined – on October 7.

The website quoted Georgian captain Irakli Machkhaneli, who said it would be "huge” for the Lelos to play the best team in the world, especially one with great history and quality.

"We don’t have any illusions of how difficult it will be to play them [the All Blacks] and I am not going to predict the result but I think with this one match Georgian Rugby will grow. It will be a great boost for Rugby in our country.”

Coach of the Georgian national rugby team Milton Haig, who is a New Zealander, looked forward to facing his countrymen, the website said.

For Georgia and the guys to play against the All Blacks – something we’ve never done before – will be a special occasion. Of course, as a coach and a Kiwi, it will be something I have never dreamed of before and it will be massive”.

"But there is a lot of water to go under the bridge before we get to that stage. We will enjoy this victory and then prepare well for the Rugby World Cup.”

Haig said his team would target winning two games in their pool, at least.

"It is a realistic goal for us,” Haig said."We proved in Argentina that we can be competitive against Argentina and our first goal in England will be two wins thus qualifying automatically for Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.”

The website also mentioned words by International Rugby Board Council Member, President of the Association of European Rugby and International Olympic Committee Member Octavian Morariu, who attended Saturday’s match.

After the tense match between Georgia and Romania, he said: "These countries are closing the gap very quickly on the Six Nations and it is clear to me that the standard of teams like Georgia and Romania is improving all the time."