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Georgia challenge Six Nations basement team Wales to a Test

Georgia have challenged Wales to a rugby Test in Tbilisi later this year, just days after Warren Gatland’s side finished bottom of the Six Nations.

The Lelos clinched their seventh successive second-tier Rugby Europe Championship title with a convincing 36-10 win over Portugal in a Paris final on Sunday.

Georgia’s success, which followed thumping victories over Romania (43-5) and Spain (38-3), reopened the debate about whether promotion and relegation should be introduced into the currently ‘closed shop’ of Europe’s elite Six Nations Championship.

Wales finished bottom — losing all five of their Six Nations games — for the first time since 2003 following a loss at home to Italy on Saturday.

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 Principality Stadium 16 months ago.

Wales’s 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.

Nevertheless, the Georgian Rugby Union (GRU) said they would be “equally happy” to have the Lelos, coached by former England international and assistant boss Richard Cockerill, play in Wales.

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

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

Tkemaladze added: “There is a strong connection between our two proud rugby nations, and we have had some exciting contests recently. We are rugby brothers.”

His comments came after 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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