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Wales' coy reply to Georgia's cheeky challenge

REACTION: Six Nations flops Wales gave a coy reply on Friday to a cheeky challenge from Georgia to a rugby Test later this year, saying only “we’ll be in touch”.

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Georgia clinched their seventh successive second-tier Rugby Europe Championship title with a convincing 36-10 win over Portugal in the Final on Sunday.

The Lelos’ success, which followed thumping victories over Romania and Spain, reopened the debate over introducing promotion and relegation into the ‘closed shop’ of Europe’s elite Six Nations Championship.

Wales finished bottom of this year’s Six Nations for the first time since 2003 following a defeat at home to Italy on Saturday. They lost all five of their games.

The victory helped Italy end a run of eight successive last-place finishes in the tournament.

Wales beat Georgia during last year’s World Cup but lost to them at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium 16 months ago.

“It’s my great pleasure to invite our dear friends from Wales to play Georgia in Tbilisi this autumn [November],” GRU President Ioseb Tkemaladze said in a statement issued on Friday.

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“After a thrilling Six Nations and Georgia’s seventh success in a row in the Rugby Europe Championship, it is the fixture rugby fans everywhere are crying out for, so I really hope the Welsh can take up our invitation.”

Wales’ end-of-year schedule for 2024 has yet to be announced but, given those fixtures are usually all played at home for financial reasons, a trip to Tbilisi looks unlikely.

“Of course, we would be equally happy to play them in Cardiff – where we won a famous victory in 2022,” said the GRU.

The Lelos are coached by former England international and assistant boss Richard Cockerill.

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The Welsh Rugby Union, replying to a Georgian Rugby post on X that featured footage of the Lelos celebrating their 13-12 win over Wales in Cardiff back in November 2022, said: “We’ll be in touch…”

Cockerill told AFP in Paris following the Rugby Europe Championship final that Georgia needed an enhanced diet of fixtures against major nations.

“I don’t know what competition we’re able to join, but certainly we need stronger opposition so we know where we’re at,” he said.

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