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Counties XV take to the mountains in Georgia

06 June 2014

  • School outreach programme visit a success
  • Players joined by RFU Player Development Officers
England Counties school visit

Photo: Tamar Kulumbegashvili

England Counties XV players discovered that rugby thrives in the most unlikely places when they took part in a coaching session for local schoolchildren on their tour of Georgia.

The players were joined by two RFU Area Player Development Officers (PDOs), Martin McTaggart and Stuart Dixon, for the session which took place on an artificial pitch cut into a mountainside 50-minutes' drive outside Tblisi, Georgia’s capital.

The players and PDOs coached the teenagers at the Iakob Gogebashvili School, which is named after a Georgian educator, children’s writer and journalist.

The school is proud of its Junkers – meaning young lord – rugby team, whose facilities at Kiketi include a clubhouse, two turf pitches and the artificial pitch.

“It was an unusual experience to coach children at altitude on an artificial pitch with alpine pastures on one side and a ski run to the other side,” said McTaggart.

“We played touch rugby and other fun games for the children and the day went extremely well.

“The players enjoyed the visit during their day off from training and preparing for their two matches out here, and, judging by the smiles on their faces, the children also enjoyed welcoming the players to their school.”

McTaggart and Dixon, who accompanied the England Counties XV on their week-long tour to Georgia, have also been involved in running coach education courses for Georgian coaches.

The England Counties XV opened their tour with a 48-23 win over Emerging Georgia in Tblisi on Wednesday and will play their second and final match against the same opponents on Sunday, June 8 (3pm BST).

Last month the Georgia Under 20s side visited England for an international against England Counties Under 20s and took part in a similar outreach programme schools coaching day at Cambridge.