Saturday’s rugby encounter between Russia and Georgia, which the latter won 15-9, became more politically-charged after Georgian government member accused Moscow on Friday of deliberately refusing to provide live televised broadcasting of the game from Sochi.
The encounter in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi on March 19 was part of the European Nations Cup tournament, a league below top league of Six Nations Championship in Europe.
Georgian Minister for Sport and Youth Affairs, Lado Vardzelashvili, said late on Friday evening that Russia’s state TV station, RTR, in a last-minute announcement informed the Georgian Public Broadcaster that it would no longer conduct live broadcast of the game.
He also said that the Russian side blocked the Georgian Public Broadcaster’s attempts to organize live televised broadcasting through local TV station in Sochi.
“I am sure it is a political decision,” Vardzelashvili said.
He also said that the Russian side “started creating problems from the very beginning of arrival of our team in Sochi.”
He said that one of the players, Davit Kacharava, was stopped and held for two hours by the local authorities in the airport for “unexplained reasons.”
“The Russian side’s such actions should not be left without reaction,” Vardzelashvili said and added that Georgia would inform about it International Rugby Board.
He said that Georgia tried in vain to achieve holding of the planned match on a neutral soil, like it happened a year ago, when the two teams met in Trabzon, Turkey and in which Georgia defeated Russia 36-8.
With this victory in Sochi Georgia now has total of 13 wins, one draw and one defeat against Russia. Russia’s only win came in the first meeting between the sides in 1993.
In the ongoing tournament Georgia is in top of the European Nations Cup after winning all five games. Before the Saturday’s match Russia was second in the table after two wins and two defeats.
Rugby is becoming increasing popular in Georgia, largely due to success of its national team. International Rugby Board (IRB) awarded Georgia to host this year’s Junior World Rugby Trophy.
In the IRB world ranking Georgia is 14th. Victory over Russia on Saturday did not help Georgia to improve its standing in the ranking, but in case of defeat it would have been downgraded to 15th place.