Georgia Out To 'Scare A Few People,' Says Rowntree

Scotland vs Georgia Highlights

Georgia will not win the 2019 Rugby World Cup, but forwards coach Graham Rowntree believes the Lelos will leave their mark on this year's edition.

"We want to scare a few people," the 48-year-old former England star told AFP. "We want the opportunities to rise to the occasion, we want to prove ourselves at the top table.

"Georgia won two games in 2015 to ensure automatic qualification for this World Cup and we want to do the same this time.  Obviously we have Wales and Australia in the pool so it's going to be difficult against them and that means we have to look at beating Uruguay and Fiji."

The Georgians open their campaign against the Welsh in Toyota City on September 23 and then go on to face Uruguay and Fiji before facing the Wallabies in their final Pool D game on October 11.

"It won't be easy. Fiji beat the [New Zealand] Maoris in July—that is going to be a huge one for us," says Rowntree.

If an appearance in the quarterfinals seems unlikely, then the forward march of rugby in Georgia is set to take another big step forward.

The Vision

Rowntree's appointment in September last year came as something of a surprise. 

The former Leicester and England prop played in the 1995 and 1999 World Cups before missing out on the triumph of 2003. Rowntree enjoyed a successful high profile coaching career with England over a seven-year period as well with Harlequins and Leicester.

"Last September I had an inquiry to see if I might be interested and before I knew it I was sat with Milton Haig in a Richmond hotel and the rest is history."

Rowntree was struck by Haig's vision.

"He's given so much structure to the game in Georgia, systems, and structure," Rowntree explained. "And belief. He moved his family to Tblisi, he's poured his life into it.

"The program that Milton put in place seven years ago is very professional with all the science and conditioning that you will find at Tier 1 nations. I haven't sensed any drop-off in professionalism coming here."

Rowntree has remained rooted in England, enabling frequent trips to France where Georgian props are as numerous as Fijian wingers in the Top 14.   

"Rugby is their game," says Rowntree, who will join Irish province Munster as forwards coach as soon as Georgia's campaign in Japan comes to an end.  "The Georgians are built for rugby. It's a contact sport. They love wrestling as well. They love these hard, physical battles. It is easy to come in and work with them.

"And they are good people, they have great humility. It is a different environment to many I have worked in before, not that there was anything wrong with those environments. 

"They are humble, hard-working, they will do anything you ask."

Exciting Young Players

The rugby world has become used to the sight of solid slabs of Georgian prop, but Rowntree is most excited by the emergence of a young and dynamic back row. 

"Beka Gorgadze had a terrific season with Bordeaux. He is an outstanding talent at number eight," he says. "And then you have the other Beka (Saghinadze) plays for Aurillac on the flank along with Otar Giorgadze of Brive, who is another who is electric around the back of the scrum."

Gorgadze is 23 with the two flankers both just 20. 

"It is now about improving themselves on the big stage."

The younger forwards will also have the reassuring presence of Mamuka Gorgodze alongside them after the 35-year-old came out of international retirement to fill the breach.

Rowntree and Haig will be hoping that 'Gorgodzilla' will help the youngsters with the increased intensitypf the World Cup stage.

"World Cups are about pressure, about dealing with expectations and getting the best out of yourself on the field. It is also important to enjoy [it]. They don't come around very often and it is over very quickly. 

"You have to make the most of it and enjoy it."

@Agence France-Presse

RWC Almost Here As Teams Settle In

Paul Mullen: I'm Only One Of 8

The Rugby World Cup kicks off in five days with the host nation, Japan, taking on Russia.

West Coast 7s Teams Set

West Coast 7s 2018 Trop Tries

The West Coast 7s has confirmed the list of teams that will compete at Treasure Island on October 19 and 20.

WPL Round 5 Preview: Pivotal Games On Tap

After Week 4, it's clear who the top dog in the league is, but after that everyone else seems to be pretty even. 

USA Team Picked For Oktoberfest 7s

Corey Jones Fuels NAV Restarts

Phil Greening will lead a USA Men's 7s team at the Oktoberfest Sevens next weekend in Munich, Germany.

Premiership 7s Set For Friday

The Premiership 7s is set for Friday and Saturday with nine of the Gallagher Premiership teams involved.

Four Huge Stars Commit To Barbarian's End-Of-Year Tour

null

Following the intensity of this autumn's Rugby World Cup in Japan, the world's greatest social side, the Barbarians, will be touring to Brazil and Wales to enjoy some good fun and some good footy. 

Leicester Tigers Name Premiership 7s Squad

The Leicester Tigers have named their 12 men for the Premiership 7s this weekend, looking to improve upon their lousy 0-3 performance a year ago. 

Breakout Stars Ready To Build On Premiership 7s Success

Sleightholme Burns Around The Edge

The Premiership 7s is where you'll see next year's starters in action, as players such as Harry Mallinder and Lewis Ludlam become first-team regulars, and the likes of 19-year-old Ollie Sleightholme aren't far away.

Looking Back At WPL Round 4 Action

In Week 4 of the 2019 WPL season, we saw Life West officially establish itself as the juggernaut of the league, Glendale come from behind late, Beantown pull out a defensive struggle, and Twin Cities bounce back in a big way. 

Seven Players To Watch In The Rugby World Cup

Joe Taufete'e Gets A Kiss From The Coach

From a Test match point-scoring stalwart to a World Cup winner, from an Olympic champion to an emblematic leader who transcends sport as well as a fresh-faced rookie, take a look at seven players who could turn out to be the headline-grabbing names of the Rugby World Cup starting in Japan on September 20.