Georgia On My Mind

Max Boyce used to delight us with tales of a Welsh fly half factory in the valleys which sadly closed many years ago, but in Georgia business is booming as one particularly rugby factory is taking productivity through the roof.

Georgia’s main export is copper ore, but there is one other major commodity in which it has global dominance.

I am of course referring to the Top 14 Prop assembly plant that makes front row forwards, purely for export, and has a France as its major importer.

In the current national squad all six props ply their trade in France, as incidentally do two hookers and three locks.

Asieshvili, Bekoshvili, Chilachava, Kubriashvili, Naaiashvili and Zhvania all play their rugby at top French clubs.

The legend of French props having been hewn from rocks in Pyrenees, has now been replaced with the modern-day hard as nails versions from the caucuses, with, as dear old Bill McLaren used to say, faces like a bag of chisels.

Every time Georgia turn out in a sporting capacity the headlines referring to “Rainy Nights in” and “Midnight Trains to” plus my guilty as charged “Georgia on my mind” are trotted out repeatedly.

Last Saturday, in a country where rainy nights, and days for that matter, are a fact of life, the Georgian national rugby team played an international match against Wales for the very first time.

There are some striking similarities between the two countries, Wales and Georgia both have a population of around three million, and both countries have a historical tradition of a vibrant coal mining industry, now sadly defunct.

Ironically the rain stayed away, thanks to a roof, and as the chances of getting a mid day train with Arriva are slim, let alone a midnight one, the traditional puns have had to be put in cold storage.

55,310 spectators turned up to witness the occasion, the visitors national anthem, which speaks of “Our icon is our motherland” followed by the gender opposite “Land of my fathers” were probably the most entertaining aspects of the day.

A young Welsh side almost snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, as the factory products totally dominated scrum time, against a Welsh side that wanted to run everything.

Those who live by the scrum shall perish by the scrum, and ultimately the situation resulting in the uncontested scrum furore probably cost Georgia a draw, that would have meant that factory near Tbilisi would have been shut for a national holiday on Monday.

The Georgian forwards were magnificent, but their backs were so-so, quite literally as Soso  Matiashvili, one of their more talented runners, plays at full back.

The next time the two teams are scheduled to meet is in Japan on 23 September 2019, at the Toyota stadium in a Rugby World Cup pool game.

So to go back to the lyrics of the song, written by Hoagy Carmichael, that have spawned a host of headlines this past week

🎼 “Just an old sweet song scrum keeps Georgia on my mind” 🎼


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