Mamuka Gorgodze, the best Georgian rugby player of all times and the captain, is leaving the National Team. He considered making this difficult decision after 2015 RWC and only made it official today.
‘I began to think about it when the World Cup ended in 2015, but I was asked to stay a little longer and I agreed. However, I have been thinking about it for the last year and a half. Now it’s final. I’ve said many times that I want my fans and supporters to remember me as a good player. So I feel it is time for me to go’, – Gorgodze said, ‘I am already 33 years old and by 2019 I will be more than 35. I feel that as the years go by, my energy is decreasing. They told me I could only participate in very important games but this is totally unacceptable for me. The captain must be together with his team at all times, otherwise, you are not a good captain. I still have a strong desire to play, but I feel that I cannot take the physical pressures I used to take before. I would make my choice only in favor of the National Team, but this is impossible. If I don’t play regularly, I won’t be able to play for the National Team either. I know my departure will be painful, but nobody is irreplaceable’.
‘I have decided to make it all public 2 years before the next World Cup so that the coaches don’t have any problems during the preparation process. It is a very difficult decision for me, but I think it is better to go in due time and make sure that the supporters remember you well.’
Gorgodze’s first game with the Lelos was on February 22, 2003, against Spain and from then on he has become the leader of the team.
‘I will never forget all the games I played at the packed Boris Paichadze stadium in Tbilisi and most of all, the last game against Russia. 93 thousand people attended the final game of French Cup in Camp Nous stadium in Barcelona, but the atmosphere was nothing close to that in Paichadze.’
He has participated in three World Cups – 2007, 2011, 2015 and was named the player of the match four times (against England and New Zealand in 2015). During the last world cup, Georgia managed to defeat Tonga and Namibia and took the third place in their group, only losing to All Blacks and Argentina. The result means that the Lelos will participate in the 2019 World Cup without having to pass the qualification requirements.
Gorgodze began to play rugby in 2000 when he was 16 years old and in 2004 he became the champion of Georgia. From 2005 to 2014 he played for the French side Montpellier and in 2010/2013 was named the best international player of Top-14.
In 2014 he moved to Toulon and last year he scored a try against Racing, in the final game of the championship, in front of 93 000 people. However, his team lost the game.
He has played 69 games with the Lelos and has scored 26 tries. 6-time best Georgian rugby player, he was also named the Georgian Athlete of the Year in 2011.
The last game he played with the Lelos was against Romania, which Georgia lost 7:8 and Mamuka says he does not want to leave the team defeated.
‘If we had won that game, I would not think of another one. I don’t want anything like a farewell game, because many great Georgian players have left silently, without making a fuss. So, I will play another, the last game with Georgia’.
Gorgodze says he wants to thank Georgian people for their unconditional support and love.
‘The members of the Georgian National Team and the supporters were growing up together. As we were going forward, the number of people was increasing on the stadiums and what is more important, people were becoming more and more aware of rugby rules. I can say that our supporters are real professionals and I want to thank them for their unconditional support we have always felt. There are many countries where rugby is big, but very little of them can boast with such great supporters’, – he claims.
‘During these 14 years, out team has made a great leap forward. We could not even dream of becoming this good. My dream is to see Georgian National Team play in 6 nations, as well as make it to the World Cup playoffs. I believe that the next generation of players will manage to do that’, – Gorgodze concluded.