After a tough loss to Six Nations side Italy at BMO Field in Toronto, Canada turn their attention to European second tier side Georgia.
Canada vs Georgia
Sat. June 23, 2012
2:00pm KO at Swangard Stadium (3883 Imperial St, Burnaby, BC, V5H 1Y4)
Purchase your tickets through ticketmaster
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The game in Burnaby, British Columbia will be the second and final game of the North American tour for Georgia, who went down to the USA Eagles 36-20 in Glendale, Colorado last weekend. It will be the last match of the summer for the Canadians after a win against the USA and the loss to Italy.
Coach Kieran Crowley was disappointed with Canada’s performance against Italy, but to most observers it was a big improvement from the win over the Eagles the previous weekend. Canada looked dangerous when they took on the Italians out wide and largely eliminated the handling errors and missed tackles that were evident against the Americans.
After a first half where Canada had the edge, Italy won the game with their dominant scrum and physicality at the breakdown. Many of the Georgian players feature in the same French leagues as the Italian players, and the Canadians can expect another tough and physical encounter.
Rugby is one of the most popular sports in Georgia and their nickname of ‘the Lelos’ comes from the traditional Georgian sport lelo burti, which translates into English as ‘field ball’. The 15th ranked Georgia is one of the fastest growing rugby nations in the world with 6,000 registered players and 41 rugby clubs.
Like Canada, Georgia had a successful 2011 Rugby World Cup, registering a win against arch rivals Romania and impressing against Scotland, Argentina and England. The Lelos led Los Pumas 7-5 at half time before succumbing to the eventual quarter-finalists 25-7.
Georgia is the current European Nations Cup (the Six Nations second division) champion and has won the competition a record five times since the current system was adopted in 2000, with an incredible winning percentage of 80 per cent.
Several of the forwards in the national squad feature in the French Top 14 competition, including hooker Akvsenti Giorgadze, and props Mikheil Nariashvili and Davit Zirakashvili, while No. 8 Dimitri Basilaia plays for Edinburgh in the RaboDirect PRO12.
This underscores the strength of Georgian rugby lying with the forwards and in set pieces, and Aaron Carpenter’s men will have to be ready to take on the Lelos up front first and then spread the ball wide to use their superior backline to score points.
Canada will be looking to consolidate 13th spot on the rankings with a win over Georgia and finish their summer on a high. The Lelos will be stronger for their run against the Eagles last weekend, and with the Canucks suffering a number of injuries against Italy, it promises to be a fascinating battle in Burnaby.
For fans who cannot make it out to Swangard Stadium in Burnaby, BC this Saturday to see the National Senior Men's Team take on the Georgian National team, the match will be available streaming online at www.sportscanada.tv/rugbycanada, kick off at 2:00 pm PST.
Streaming Live from www.sportscanada.tv/rugbycanada