Home Sports Georgia seal a SEVENTH successive Rugby Europe title with 36-10 win over Portugal to once again show off their credentials for Six Nations inclusion

Georgia seal a SEVENTH successive Rugby Europe title with 36-10 win over Portugal to once again show off their credentials for Six Nations inclusion

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Georgia dominated Portugal to win a seventh successive Rugby Europe title and keep knocking on the door of the Six Nations
  • Georgia’s victory was the highlight of a rugby festival at Stade Jean Bouin
  • Portugal were World Cup darlings but failed to replicate that form
  • Rugby Europe takes place below the most prestigious Six Nations Tournament.

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Georgia have once again raised their hand for inclusion in the Six Nations after continuing their dominance of Rugby Europe by beating Portugal to win a seventh consecutive title.

In their first campaign under former England assistant and ex-Leicester, Edinburgh and Montpellier head coach Richard Cockerill, the Lelos recorded a convincing 36-10 victory in Paris.

This represented a good start to Cockerill’s tenure. Georgia are used to dominating Rugby Europe – the tournament below the Six Nations.

Their success in 2024 means they have now won it 16 times in total and have emerged victorious in 12 of the last 13 competitions. Portugal, last year’s World Cup darlings, were second here.

The Six Nations remains a closed workshop for the moment. Georgia hope to one day reach the Championship and will play teams like England and Wales at under-18 level this summer.

Georgia dominated Portugal to win a seventh successive Rugby Europe title and keep knocking on the door of the Six Nations

Georgia dominated Portugal to win a seventh successive Rugby Europe title and keep knocking on the door of the Six Nations

Behind a dominant pack, Luka Matkava (left) thrived for Georgia and scored four penalties and a couple of conversions.

Behind a dominant pack, Luka Matkava (left) thrived for Georgia and scored four penalties and a couple of conversions.

Behind a dominant pack, Luka Matkava (left) thrived for Georgia and scored four penalties and a couple of conversions.

Portugal received plenty at the World Cup but struggled to replicate that form in Paris

Portugal received plenty at the World Cup but struggled to replicate that form in Paris

Portugal received plenty at the World Cup but struggled to replicate that form in Paris

They disappointed at last year’s World Cup but will have another chance to showcase their talent when they take on Fiji, Edie Jones’ Japan and Australia this summer.

MATCH FACTS

Georgia

Try: Tabutsadze (2), Karkadze, Alania

The inconvenients: Matkava (2)

Pens: Matkava (4)

Portugal

To try: Marta

Scam: Aubry

Pen: Camacho

They disappointed at last year’s World Cup but will have another chance to showcase their talent when they take on Fiji, Edie Jones’ Japan and Australia this summer. MATHEMATICS

Portugal played some hugely entertaining rugby in France in 2023, scoring a famous victory over Fiji at the highest level of the game. They also drew 18-18 against Georgia in that tournament. Portugal’s so-called A team – in reality it was more of a B or C team – were beaten 91-5 by England A last month.

Unfortunately, this isn’t quite the same team that performed well at the World Cup under former head coach Patrice Lagisquet. Daniel Hourcade is now acting as interim manager for the team.

Georgia’s victory against Portugal was the highlight of a rugby festival at Stade Jean Bouin, home of TOP14 leaders Stade Français.

Earlier in the day, Belgium beat Poland 34-8, the Netherlands beat Germany 45-0 and Spain beat Romania 40-33 to claim third place .

Spain were kicked out of last year’s World Cup for fielding an ineligible player during the qualifying process and were replaced by Romania at the tournament in France.

A crowd of 8,200 watched finals day, demonstrating that there is life in international rugby in Europe other than the Six Nations.

Finals day was watched by 8,200 people, demonstrating that there is life in international rugby in Europe outside of the Six Nations

Finals day was watched by 8,200 people, demonstrating that there is life in international rugby in Europe outside of the Six Nations

Finals day was watched by 8,200 people, demonstrating that there is life in international rugby in Europe outside of the Six Nations

Georgian scrum-half Vasil Lobzhanidze kicks with his team under pressure near their try line

Georgian scrum-half Vasil Lobzhanidze kicks with his team under pressure near their try line

Georgian scrum-half Vasil Lobzhanidze kicks with his team under pressure near their try line

Georgia dominated in a disjointed first quarter, but only had two penalties from Luka Matkava to show for their efforts. As a former hooker, Cockerill would have appreciated his team’s scrum work.

Matkava scored a third penalty to make it 9-0 in the 29th minute. Georgia dominated from the set piece and although the scrum wasn’t perfect – both teams lost a prop to a yellow card – Georgia used that platform to their advantage. A huge scrum push allowed Matkava to launch his fourth shot.

A monster penalty from Hugo Camacho put Portugal on the scoreboard with the last kick of the first half. Georgia finally got over the line early in the second half, with Matkava kicking a cross to winger Aka Tabutsadze who was in oceans of space to score his 36th Test try.

Tabutsadze is Georgia’s top try scorer. Hooker Vano Karkadze was denied by a strong push from the Georgia forward for his second and Matkava’s conversion made it 24-3. Portugal would never come back.

Behind a dominant pack, Georgian halfbacks Vasil Lobzhanidze – who plays club rugby with Toulon – and Matkava controlled the match.

Portugal finished second in the tournament after winning Group B and beating Spain in the play-offs in an Iberian derby.

Portugal finished second in the tournament after winning Group B and beating Spain in the play-offs in an Iberian derby.

Portugal finished second in the tournament after winning Group B and beating Spain in the play-offs in an Iberian derby.

Georgia's victory against Portugal was the highlight of a rugby festival at the Stade Jean Bouin

Georgia's victory against Portugal was the highlight of a rugby festival at the Stade Jean Bouin

Georgia’s victory against Portugal was the highlight of a rugby festival at the Stade Jean Bouin

Both teams were well supported and came to blows with a skirmish of nearly 30 men per hour.

Georgian captain Merab Sharikadze and Portuguese lock Jose Madeira were both sent to the bin.

Tabutsadze raced into the corner for his second, Mikheil Alania also reached the line, and even another yellow card for Luka Ivanishvili couldn’t spoil a comfortable Georgian victory.

Rodrigo Marta got a late Portuguese consolation but his side were well beaten.

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