KUMAGAYA, 28 Sep – A preview of the Group D match between Georgia and Uruguay, which kicks off at 14:15 on Sunday at Kumagaya Rugby Stadium.
The Big Picture
Uruguay have opted for a similar line-up to the one that surprised Fiji and will be looking to consolidate their place among Pool D’s top three, while Georgia coach Milton Haig has made a raft of changes and says it is crunch time for the Lelos.
“We are at a tipping point in our tournament,” Haig said. “The Uruguay match becomes a must-win for us. We’re under no illusions about where we are and what needs to be done.”
The New Zealander has made 12 changes to his starting line-up for Sunday’s game, with only three survivors from the team that played Wales.
Some of the team’s biggest names are either on the bench or out entirely, but there is no shortage of experience in the Lelos line-up. The team will be led by Jaba Bregvadze, with regular captain Merab Sharikadze on the bench after being cleared to play following a knee injury. It is Bregvadze’s first time leading the side, as he wins his 56th cap.
Haig said squad rotation was always on the cards given the short turnaround between the Uruguay game and the Lelos’ next outing against Fiji (on Thursday, 3 October).
“We don’t really see a lot of significance between what team went out against Wales and what team goes out here,” he said.
“We were committed as a coaching group to giving everyone a chance, and from now on it will be the best players on the field. So if (the players) turn up some form tomorrow (Sunday), (they) might get selected for the next game.”
While Uruguay will be full of confidence following their victory over Fiji, the Lelos will be aiming to bring their opponents back to earth. If they cannot, their mission of automatic qualification for RWC 2023 is likely to end in failure.
While Georgia are traditionally known for the strength of their forward pack and dogged defence, Uruguay beat Fiji at their own game in terms of flowing rugby and the effectiveness of offloads. The match may become a battle of two styles – fast and furious versus strength and aggression.
Georgia believe the depth in their squad permits such dramatic player rotation and have some impressive new young backs to show off, but a lack of consistency in leadership and starting line-ups may cost them.
The return of Georgia’s regular captain Merab Sharikadze (on the bench) after a knee injury is big news for the Lelos.
Notable Georgian absentees from the squad include four-time World Cup participant Davit Kacharava, Mikheil Nariashvili, who was stand-in captain for the Wales game, and Giorgi Tkhilaishvili. Talismanic giant Mamuka Gorgodze is on the bench, as is RWC 2019’s youngest player, Vano Karkadze, who comes into the squad for the first time in Japan. Gela Aprasidze gets the nod at scrum-half in place of Vasil Lobzhanidze.
The only survivors from Georgia’s starting XV that played Wales are 20-year-old fly-half Tedo Abzhandadze, alongside fellow back Giorgi Kveseladze and forward Konstantine Mikautadze. This time around, Kveseladze will play at outside-centre rather than on the wing.
For Uruguay, coach Esteban Meneses has made just two changes to the starting line-up that played Fiji, with Juan Rombys replacing Diego Arbelo, and Alejandro Nieto at number eight in place of Manuel Diana.
Stats and Trivia
Georgia and Uruguay will meet for the sixth time on Sunday, with Georgia winning the last three encounters, most recently a 19-10 win in Tbilisi in 2015. The teams played each other at RWC 2003 when Uruguay triumphed 24-12.
Uruguay will be aiming to win two matches at a single Rugby World Cup for the first time on Sunday, having previously won one match at both the 1999 and 2003 editions of the tournament.
The 30 points Uruguay registered against Fiji was a record for them at the World Cup, as was Felipe Berchesi’s 15 points in a single RWC match. It was only the third time in RWC history that a team won a match despite scoring two fewer tries than their opponents.
RR WORLD RANKINGS – During World Cup the RR Ranking Points are DOUBLED
GEO (on 73.29 points) at a Neutral venue -vs- URU (on 69.18 points) in a RWC match
|Possible Outcome||Rating Point
|If GEO win by 1-15 points||1.178||74.47||68.00||No|
|If GEO win by more than 15||1.767||75.06||67.41||No|
|If result is a draw||0.822||72.47||70.00||No|
|If URU win by 1-15 points||2.822||70.47||72.00||Yes|
|If URU win by more than 15||4.233||69.06||73.41||Yes|
1 Guram Gogichashvili, 2 Jaba Bregvadze (capt.), 3 Levan Chilachava, 4 Lasha Lomidze, 5 Konstantine Mikautadze, 6 Shalva Sutiashvili, 7 Beka Saginadze, 8 Otari Giorgadze, 9 Gela Aprasidze, 10 Tedo Abzhandadze, 11 Alexander Todua, 12 Lasha Malaguradze, 13 Giorgi Kveseladze, 14 Zura Dzneladze, 15 Lasha Khmaladze
Replacements: 16 Vano Karkadze, 17 Beka Gigashvili, 18 Giorgi Melikidze, 19 Mamuka Gorgodze, 20 Beka Gorgadze, 21 Vasil Lobzhanidze, 22 Merab Sharikadze, 23 Soso Matiashvili
1 Mateo Sanguinetti, 2 German Kessler, 3 Juan Pedro Rombys, 4 Ignacio Dotti, 5 Manuel Leindekar, 6 Juan Manuel Gaminara (capt.), 7 Santiago Civetta, 8 Alejandro Nieto, 9 Santiago Arata, 10 Felipe Berchesi, 11 Rodrigo Silva, 12 Andrés Vilaseca, 13 Juan Manuel Cat, 14 Nicolás Freitas, 15 Gastón Mieres
Replacements: 16 Facundo Gattas, 17 Juan Echeverría, 18 Diego Arbelo, 19 Diego Magno, 20 Juan Diego Ormaechea, 21 Manuel Ardao, 22 Agustín Ormaechea, 23 Leandro Leivas
Date: Sunday, September 29
Kick-Off: 14:15 local
Venue: Kumagaya Rugby Stadium, Saitama
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand), Alexandre Ruiz (France)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)