“It has been a World Cup to remember for Georgia scrum-half Vasil Lobzhanidze. At 18 years and 340 days old, he became the tournament’s youngest ever player when he starred in his nation’s opening victory over Tonga,” writes Rob Bartlett, Assistant Editor at ESPN.
Lobzhanidze is 33 days younger than Rugby World Cup’s previous youngest player Thretton Palamo of the United States.
This has been a historical World Cup for the Georgian team in many ways indeed. Apart from our scrum-half stealing the global thunder of the youngest Rugby World Cup player, the Georgian team won two matches securing the team’s automatic qualification for Japan 2019.
After Georgia’s triumph over Tonga, the impressive game against all-star All Blacks and the tense defeat of Namibia headlines like these have become commonplace in rugby news: Open up the Six Nations and let Georgia in, Georgia’s performance against New Zealand reignites ‘Seven Nations’ debate, There is far more to savour in European rugby union than just the Six Nations.
Telegraph’s Olivier Brown wrote back in March after Georgia outscored the Italian team in ranking that the only reason Georgia was not in Rugby’s Six Nations was PR:
Their inability to supplant Italy at the Six Nations table is based solely on questions of commerce and culture. Ultimately, it is far more desirable for the average fan to be guaranteed a weekend’s drinking by the Trevi Fountain every couple of years than it is to seek out soup and dumplings in the backstreets of Tbilisi.
ESPN reporter impressed with Lobzhanidze’s performance as the youngest player in Rugby World Cup’s history draws a parallel between the young player and the overall team’s aspirations on the world stage, saying Georgia, along with Lobzhanidze, is ready for higher tier games and should be given more opportunities to play them:
If Lobzhanidze is to reach his potential then there is no doubt that he — and Georgia as a nation — needs to be exposed to top level rugby on a more regular basis. The performances of the Tier Two nations in England, led by Japan’s historic victory over South Africa, have reignited debate over how frequently. or infrequently, they get to play their Tier One counterparts.