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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 September, 2003, 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK
Players beg for aid
Ilia Zedguinidze
Ilia Zedguinidze wants further support for Georgian rugby
Georgia's leading players have called on the country's government to improve its backing of rugby in a bid to book a place in the world's top eight.

The Georgians sealed their spot at the World Cup for the first time in their history after defeating Russia over two legs.

But the team, currently 18th in the world rankings, are expected to be overwhelmed in Pool C when the tournament gets underway.

Former captain Levan Tsabadze, who misses the tournament because of injury, is adamant more structured financial backing is the answer.

He told the BBC Sport website: "The main problem now is money.

"If the Georgian government starts paying attention to rugby and starts pumping in money, the level of the game will improve significantly.

We don't even have a decent rugby stadium in Georgia
Captain Ilia Zedguinidze

"I can assure you that, given the support of the authorities, we can easily become the eighth team in the world's rankings."

That would leapfrog the Georgians above their group opponents Samoa, presently at number nine in the rankings.

According to captain Ilia Zedguinidze his country does not even have a "decent rugby stadium".

He said he and the rest of the team had been forced to look abroad for their playing careers due to a lack of basic facilities and training.

And he backed Tsabadze's criticism of the government's present stance.

Zedgunidze said: "The government support still leaves a lot to be desired. Until recently the authorities appeared not to recognise the public interest in rugby.

"When we all moved abroad - it was the only way to play rugby. We needed a place to stay and train. We don't even have a decent rugby stadium in Georgia."





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