They were kicked out of the early stages of the World Cup Qualifiers in 2006 (for the 2008 World Cup), IIRC it was something to do with them forfeiting a match in Russia due to claims of problems with visas only for it to emerge that the team was actually away representing Georgia at rugby union. It was a great shame TBH because the team was relatively strong, they beat Serbia and Holland easily and the match against Holland attracted over 10,000 fans. What they did was also totally unnecessary because they had already qualified for the next stage where they were due to meet Wales and Scotland for a place in the RLWC.
They weren't in a 'huff' BTW as the OP states, they were officially thrown out of the RLIF and banned from international competition. You'd think they would easily be one of the strongest nations in Europe today if they hadn't screwed up.
Not quite how it went in reality.
Only two or at the most three of the League guys where duel coded players at international level.
I checked the team list's on the union website against the RL teams that played Holland and Serbia.
Talking to a lot of the Georgian guys in Tblisi in 2006 most of them had spent time fighting in South Ossetia which was claiming independence from Georgia (backed by Russia) and which Georgia had tried to take back.
At the time there was a lot of tension between Russia and Georgia.
I would go as far as say genuine hatred from the Georgia side.
In 2004 a western(US) backed president took charge of Georgia (Saakashvili) in the Rose Revolution which did'nt go down well in the Kremlin as Saakashvili wanted to take back control of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and Georgia briefly entered South Ossetia in 2004 which upset the Russians more.
(If you remember early in 2008 (world cup year) the two countries fought a brief war over South Ossetia)
A year later in 2005 Georgia started playing League...... their first game in the Netherlands.
In 2006 the RLEF decided that the three new countries in Europe ,Serbia,Holland and Georgia would play in what would be the first European "B" Championships which was basically brought together by the three countries themselves as Holland and Serbia had also played each other in 2005.
At short notice the new European "B" tournament was changed to a World Cup qualification tournament and Russia (who at the time where a lot stronger than the new countries) where included in the group.
The original fixtures saw
Russia v Holland
Serbia v Georgia
Holland v Georgia
Russia v Serbia
Serbia v Holland
GEORGIA V RUSSIA
Russia where not happy with the programme and complained to the RLEF, the fixtures where altered so Russia traveled to Holland (opening game any where in the world for the 2008 RLWC Qualifiers) and Georgia then had to travel to Moscow.
(This also affected the Dutch who had budgeted for Moscow..Tblisi was double the cost !!)
I think this was a ploy by the Russian RL Federation to take advantage of the turmoil in the region.
I spent many hours on the phone to the guys in Tblisi and Belgrade and the RLEF.
The RLEF wouldnt budge despite Holland,Serbia and Georgia trying to get back to the original schedule.
Russia made it difficult for the Georgians to get visa's. I was told they where issued less than 24 hours before game day.
Georgia had already told the RLEF they where not happy about going to Moscow .
Tthe RLEF didn't take into account the tensions between the two nations when changing the fixtures.
I believe they bowed down to a strong Russian RL Federation at the time and Georgia threw their toys out of the pram.
Georgia never turned up but don't believe it was because they where all away playing rugby union............Maybe if the game had stayed in Tblisi the Russians might not have turned up..such was the state of affairs at the time.
The ban came about not because of their forfeiting the game but what went on between the Georgia RL and the RLEF after the no show in Moscow.
The Netherlands RL at the time also copped a ban by the RLEF so the first RL WC qualifiers saw two of the four "New " nations thrown out leaving at the time Russia and Serbia flying the flag for development.
The RLEF was a new organisation and had a lot of teething problems back then....I look back to the 2006 WC Qualifiers and believe they learned a lot through what happened and are more inclined today to listen to the guys doing the hard yards on the ground.
Great to see Georgia back on the scene because as you state they could have been a big success and when we played in Tblisi on Independence day it was an awesome experience.
Edited by yanto, 22 August 2014 - 09:59 PM.