Scotland host Georgia at Kilmarnock FC’s Rugby Park this weekend, in an important International test match. One of over a dozen fixtures, a spotlight is placed on this encounter due to several factors.
The home side will be looking to end a promising Autumn International series with victory. Having beaten Argentina and come ‘within a point’ of the Wallabies, things are starting to look promising for Scotland.
The Georgian side will be excited about this rare chance to test themselves against a tier one nation. They won’t just be there for the occasion though–The Lelos will be aiming for a result! Were the away team to collect a surprising win, it would pose some interesting questions for those in charge of the global game.
— Talking Rugby Union (@TalkRugbyUnion) November 23, 2016
Rise of the Tier Two Nations
Japan’s breath taking victory against the Springboks at last year’s 2015 Rugby World Cup shook the rugby world. Since then, there’s been a lot of discussion regarding the rise of the tier two nations. The Cherry Blossoms exhilarating victory in Brighton has reopened the dialogue around ‘closing gap’ between two tiers. That the Japanese came so close to getting a result against Wales last weekend speaks volumes for the continued improvement of their game.
Games like this are opening the eyes of those at the top of the Rugby hierarchy to the wealth of talent around the globe. This Saturday is Georgia’s chance to further continue this trend.
Georgia Caught in The Middle
Since 2006, Georgia have been victorious in all but one European Nations Cup – the European competition for tier two and three nations. Even in 2010 when Romania were crowned champions, the Georgians came a close second. Their dominance of this competition is generally unwavering, leading to many calls for a promotion to the premier Six Nations tournament.
The argument put forward is as follows: if the Georgians are not allowed to compete against the best on a regular basis, how are they meant to improve? One only needs to look below the Equator for proof of how this could work.
Since joining the Tri-Nations in 2012 to create The Rugby Championship, the Argentine game has gone from strength to strength. The style and quality of Los Pumas game has expanded exponentially, more overseas based players welcomed into the Jaguares Super Rugby team–making them available for the national team more often. They are now a match for the very best in the world.
Six Nations Shake Up
Given the rise of the Pumas, could something similar happen to the Georgians? If they were admitted to the Six Nations, this would aid the development of the game in that country/region. The argument being touted by some is for a ‘promotion and relegation system’ to be brought in. With discussions on the table, the recognition of Georgia is a positive move (at least).
This would also help Romania, who are not far behind Georgia. The result against Canada; winning 21-16 shows that the time is now to grow the game. The chance for countries like Georgia and Romania to test themselves against superior opposition on a regular basis will improve quality and increase interest in the sport. Part of World Rugby’s worldwide goal, to grow the sport in Eastern Europe and Asian markets.
— Rugby Europe (@rugby_europe) November 19, 2016
In reality, with Scotland and Italy having shared all but one Six Nations wooden spoon since 2004, is it not about time that other nations got a chance? Whilst this would be a radical change [and maybe part of on going planning] decisions like this would shake up the history of World Rugby, and would be massive drive for future development.
Any change does seem very far off for now. However when Scotland host Georgia, if the East European side were to beat the Scots this weekend, it could prove to be a momentous first-step.
SCOTLAND v GEORGIA
November 26, Rugby Park, Kilmarnock
“Main photo credit”