Georgia created a piece of history on Sunday by winning the World Rugby U20 Trophy 2015 final with a convincing 49-24 victory over Canada in Portugal, earning the Junior Lelos promotion the U20 Championship in 2016.
Canada went into the game at the Estadio Universitario de Lisboa with only one change from the starting XV that had beaten Tonga to reach a second Trophy final in three years, Reegan O'Gorman forced out on the morning of the match.
But the Canadians were second-best for large periods of the game against a Georgian outfit that showed no nerves given this was their first Trophy final while also demonstrating their ability to be clinical in the tight as well as the loose.
Canada’s malfunctioning lineout was a cause for concern throughout whereas Georgia excelled in this area and used the steady platform provided to create their first two tries.
Having gone close to breaching Canada’s line several times Georgia finally turned their dominance into points when second-row Mikheil Babunashvili rumbled over from a catch and drive after 15 minutes. Tight-head prop Giorgi Melikidze scored in almost identical fashion 10 minutes later and this time Rezi Jintchvelashvili made no mistake with the conversion for a 12-0 lead.
Winger Giorgi Kveseladze overcame the disappointment of having a try chalked off for offside by crossing for a legitimate score four minutes later as the one-way traffic continued. Replacement forward Tomike Zoidze was next to get in on the act and Jintchvelashvili added the conversion for a 24-0 lead.
Canada could have few complaints about the scoreline having turned in an error-strewn performance, but they managed to get a foothold in the game when they scored straight from the kick-off. A rare moment of miscommunication in the Georgian ranks allowed Canada to win possession and captain Lucas Rumball dived over in the corner for a try to make it 24-7 at half-time.
Jintchvelashvili and Dylan Horgan traded penalties at the start of he second half before Georgia added two more tries in as many minutes to effectively kill the game off as a contest.
Impressive full-back Irakli Svanidze was the first to cross after taking a pass from winger Anzor Sichinava, before Kveseladze grabbed his second of the game after the Junior Lelos returned a poor clearance kick with interest.
Canada’s Luke Bradley refused to accept defeat though and the hard-running number eight touched down twice either side of a lovely try from fly-half Jintchvelashvili to give the scoreline a more respectable look at 46-24.
But Jintchvelashvili capped a fine display with a late penalty to round off the scoring and a memorable tournament for the Junior Lelos who can now look forward to playing alongside the likes of New Zealand, England and South Africa in the elite World Rugby U20 Championship next year.
Georgia under-20 coach Ilia Maisuradze and his captain Badri Alkhazashvili couldn't wipe the smiles off their faces afterwards, knowing the significance of this achievement for rugby in their country.
“We have put in so many hours of hard work together over the last year and it is wonderful that all of that we’ve been rewarded with this win. I’d like to thank all of the boys for playing to their potential and achieving the maximum that they could achieve,” said Maisuradze.
Alkhazashvili added: “It feels wonderful, we haven't won a game like this in our history so we feel very happy, it was a really good game and I am really proud of my guys. It was very nice to have so much support here today.”
His Canadian counterpart Rumball added: “I thought we had a great first three games but we didn’t get the result we wanted in the last one. We started off slowly and only picked up our game at the end of the first half and if you do that in a tournament like this you are done for. But this puts us in a good spot for next year, for sure, there will be a lot of guys returning and we’ve just got to take it as it is and learn from our mistakes.”