SA team to compete in Georgia
A South Africa President’s XV, selected from the Currie Cup First Division provinces, will contest the new IRB Tbilisi Cup, which will take place in Georgia from June 7-16.
The details of the tournament were announced by the IRB on Tuesday as part of its ongoing strategy of increasing the competition schedule for Tier Two nations.
The competition will feature Rugby World Cup 2015 hopefuls Georgia and Uruguay as well as the South African President's XV and Emerging Ireland teams.
Back-to-back matches will be played on each of the three match days (June 7, 11 and 16) in the nation’s capital with the teams competing in a round robin format.
"This is an opportunity for developing players with Absa Currie Cup First Division provinces to experience international competition," said Jurie Roux, CEO of the South African Rugby Union (SARU).
"South African selections enjoyed success in the IRB Nations Cup, which used to fill this window in the calendar, and this is an opportunity to test the depth of South African rugby once again."
An SA Kings team won the Nations Cup title in 2011 and an SA Emerging team won the title on their two appearances in 2007 and 2008.
Rugby is now firmly established as the national sport in Georgia. The ‘Lelos’ currently top the European Nations Cup standings (an event that serves as a Rugby World Cup qualifier) and the IRB-funded Tbilisi Cup is poised to be a popular addition to the international Rugby calendar.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "This exciting addition of the IRB Tbilisi Cup to the international match schedule is great news for Georgia and Uruguay, who are both striving for Rugby World Cup 2015 qualification."
"The addition of Emerging Ireland and the South Africa President's XV ensures a high-calibre competition that will deliver compelling matches, while also fulfilling the high performance needs of our Unions.
"Georgians love Rugby and I am sure the event will be a huge success for the popularity and profile of Georgian Rugby, the participating Unions and the development of the Game worldwide."
IRB Head of Competitions and Performance Mark Egan said: "Awarding the hosting rights to Georgia for a tournament of this standing is just reward for the outstanding progress that the Union is making on both the development and high performance fronts. Significant investment by the Georgian government over the past four years has led to the construction of world-class training and match venue facilities in Tbilisi which will be available to the participating teams."
"The inclusion of the South Africa President’s XV and Emerging Ireland teams will provide valuable Tier One level opposition to Georgia and Uruguay as they both continue on the Rugby World Cup 2015 qualification pathway."
The details of the coaching staff and SA President’s XV selection will be announced in due course.