Georgia qualifies for Rugby World Cup 2023 amid Russian sanctions

The Georgian Rugby Union announced on Thursday, March 10, that Georgia’s National Rugby Team will participate in the Rugby World Cup competition for the 6th time since 2003 after the national team became the fifteenth squad to qualify for the 2023 competition that will be held in France.

Georgia has secured their place at Rugby World Cup 2023 after all remaining games involving Russia in the Rugby Europe Championship 2022 were abandoned following a decision by the Rugby World Cup Board on Wednesday.

Russia’s military operation against Ukraine on February 24 has led to sanctions across global sport, and Belarus, a key staging area for the offensive, has also been punished.

Moreover, after World Rugby suspended Russia and Belarus from its ranks on March 1, denouncing “Russia’s aggressive invasion of Ukraine and the facilitation of this action by Belarus,” the Lelos have claimed the top spot in their pool and a spot among two of the top European teams with 35 points.

Following the decision, the World Cup qualifying zone in Europe has been reassessed. The Rugby Union said it was still up in the air whether Georgia would qualify from the Europe pool’s first or second-placed teams.

Furthermore, the rugby body stated that if the Georgian team gained a point in the remaining games against Romania and Spain, they would keep their first place in their group and join Wales, Australia, Fiji, and the international playoffs’ winners.

Spain, Portugal and Romania have a chance to qualify for the World Cup from the European Qualifiers, the best teams of which will enter the World Cup competition, with the 3rd placed finisher moving to the playoffs.

According to the website of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, Georgia had achieved a “best-ever 3rd-place pool finish in England 2015 but only won one game at the last tournament in Japan.”

Zurab Kvaratskhelia

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