Today´s match in Tbilisi confirmed Georgia as the European Nations Cup champions and a place in Pool C of Rugby World Cup 2015. In defeating Romania 22-9 Georgia secured the fourth spot of the group which wll also include Argentina, New Zealand, Tonga and the winner of this years Asian Five Nations, likely Japan. Romania will compete in Pool D which is to feature three members of the Six Nations and Canada.
A full house was on hand at the Mikheil Meskhi Stadium in Tbilisi to see Georgia crowned champions of the European Nations Cup and to win a favorable draw in the World Cup. The Lelos have avoided the tougher draw that will see Romania begin the World Cup by facing France and Ireland with only a three day turn-around.
The task awaiting Romania is far from celebratory. The Oaks are to not only face two elite opponents early on but are also to have a tough ending to the campaign as Romania will face Canada on October 6 and Italy on October 11. The four day gap will require to rotate players for what are to be the two matches that the team will be targeting in the tournament. Romania would have preferred these matches spread to have a different opponent between them.
Georgia has therefore won more than just a friendlier set of opponents at Rugby World Cup 2015. It has won a far more negotiable match schedule. Indeed not only is facing Tonga better than facing Italy but doing so on the opening weekend of the tournament and then facing Argentina six days later will enable Georgia to put everything into the opening match, a game that Georgia is more than capable of winning.
The match allocation is far from ideal for Georgia though as the Eastern European nation will also have four days recovery time between playing for the third and fourth times. Georgia will face New Zealand on October 2 and Africa 1, possibly Namibia, on October 7. All of Argentina, New Zealand and Tonga will finish their pool matches later and, as such, have more days for their four pool matches. Indeed it is Georgia and Africa 1 whom will have the least number of days.
The controversy is set to be a significant factor during the pool stages and will again decrease the chances of an upset result in pool play. Georgia, though, will now be one of the most likely to alter the script as the Lelos can prepare and aim for two pool victories in their matches against Tonga and Africa 1 and also look to give Argentina a real challenge.
In facing Argentina Georgia will meet the South Americans for third time in as many Rugby World Cups. The match against New Zealand, on the other hand, will be the first ever test match between the nations. Georgia has faced Tonga twice previously with the sides winning once each in 1999. Romania has previously faced Canada, France and Ireland at two Rugby World Cups and Italy once.