Preview: Scotland v Georgia
Scotland will get their Autumn schedule underway with a warm-up fixture against Georgia at BT Murrayfield this Friday (23 October) - the first international rugby fixture in the UK since the COVID-19 lockdown in March.
Long viewed as a rugby nation with the potential to explode onto the global scene, Los Lelos have yet to enjoy that breakthrough win over a Tier 1 nation that many believe is inevitable.
They have notched up successes against the likes of Samoa, Fiji and USA, and have featured in each of the past five instalments of the Rugby World Cup since first qualifying in 2003.
Last year’s tournament represented the end of an eight-year stay as Head Coach for Milton Haig, who was at the helm for more than 80 internationals and under whom Georgia enjoyed no fewer than seven Rugby Europe Championship titles.
New boss Levan Maisashvili took charge of four games before the recent break in global sport and boasts a 100% win rate following victories over Romania, Spain, Belgium and Portugal in the as yet incomplete 2020 Rugby Europe Championship. That competition is due for completion on the weekend of 1 November with Georgia to host perennial rivals Russia in Tbilisi.
Scotland and Georgia have met four times since a first encounter at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. That Pool B fixture was one for the purists, with the Scots labouring to a 15-6 win with four penalties and a drop goal from Dan Parks in a group which saw a side captained by Rory Lawson narrowly miss out on a quarter-final berth.
In 2016, the sides met at Rugby Park in Kilmarnock as part of the Autumn Test schedule, Stuart Hogg scoring two of the hosts’ six tries, five of which came before half-time in an ultimately serene victory.
The two other meetings came by way of World Cup warm-up games ahead of last year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan. At the Dinamo Arena in Tbilisi, Scotland ran out 44-10 winners with debutant Rory Hutchinson crossing for two tries, to add to scores from Ben Toolis, Darcy Graham and Scott Cummings.
The reverse fixture resulted in another comfortable Scotland win a week later with six players scoring a try apiece in a 36-9 success at BT Murrayfield.
In total, Scotland have scored 138 points to Georgia’s 41 over the course of their four encounters.
Ali Price says
"It has been a long seven months. As players, international rugby is a brilliant occasion and it's great to finally have that back on Friday, everyone is looking forward to it.
"There is pretty strong competition at scrum-half. There are four or five guys who all want to start, all want to be in the squads and that is driving us all to be better.
"There are three of us in the squad now and Sam [Hidalgo-Clyne]down at Exeter is settled now and he is part of a team which could potentially finish the season with two trophies, and that can only be good. Whether you are in the squad or on the fringes, you know you're not far away. It's not only at scrum-half, but there is competition at fly-half, centre and back-row now.
"We're expecting a physical challenge from Georgia. They're big men with a strong scrummaging unit. But they also have some young half-backs, who are exciting and are not afraid to throw it around.
"For us it's all about focussing on ourselves. Like any Georgian side over the last couple of years we know their strengths, they'll be trying to go through the middle of us with their big men."
Download our Official Matchday Guide below for full team details.