September 23, 2019 / 2:41 PM / 24 days ago

Rugby-Gulf in class can only be fixed with more top tier games – Georgia coach

TOYOTA CITY, Japan, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Georgia coach Milton Haig said Monday’s 43-14 Rugby World Cup defeat by Wales is the perfect example of why his team needs to play Tier 1 opposition regularly if they are to be more competitive.

Georgia were blown away in the first half at the City of Toyota Stadium as they trailed 29-0 at the break, but then rallied in what was an improved second half performance in terms of intensity and ambition.

Haig has been beating the drum of Georgia’s inclusion in the Six Nations throughout his eight years in charge, and says it is “vital” if European rugby wants to see the country develop beyond their current level.

“You can’t play a team like Wales at the World Cup and produce miracles if you are not used to playing at this speed,” Haig told reporters.

“The first half today showed that if you make a mistake against these (Tier 1) teams, they will kill you. Georgia needs at least four matches a year against Tier 1 teams and until that happens, these are the results you will get.”

The New Zealander has spoken to World Rugby about the predicament, but has yet to see any real, concrete action.

“I have voiced my opinion to them a number of times, both in person and through the media. Will we get change? I’m not sure. I know after this World Cup there will be more visits from Tier 1 nations to Georgia, but whether it is enough, I don’t know,” he said.

“A competition like the Six Nations is where we need to be to compete with teams like Wales.

“When they draw up the (international) schedule it is done four years in advance and the small boys like us scramble for the scraps at the table. We fight for what we can get. Hopefully we will see some change from 2020 onwards.”

Both of Georgia’s tries came via props barging their way over the line and Haig said one of his biggest challenges is to widen the attacking options of his side, with Wales comfortable in defence whenever their opponents tried to run the ball.

“We have adapted our game over the last couple of years to be able to use the ball more and vary our attack. But we are a set-piece team, there is no doubt about that,” he added.

“Our younger players that are coming through are fantastic and understand the game a bit better.

“Coming from playing at the junior World Cup (every year), they don’t have the same psychological barrier of playing top teams.”

Georgia are next in action on Sunday against Uruguay in Kumagaya. (Reporting By Nick Said Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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