Zedginidze calls time

(Rugby News Service) Wednesday 19 September 2007
Zedginidze calls time
End of the road: Ilia Zedginidze

VILLEFRANCHE, 19 September - Georgia captain Ilia Zedginidze has decided the time has come to hang up his boots after suffering a broken rotula (kneecap) during his side's 14-10 loss to Ireland last weekend.

Whilst the second row has suffered serious injury in the past he does acknowledge that this one "may be one of the worst timings" though.

"I'm used to injury," Zedginidze said. "During the game you never know what moment it can happen at. It's certainly a pity, but c'est la vie."

Back in 2003, during a match with Italy in the build up to Georgia's IRB Rugby World Cup debut, Zedginidze cracked his skull and now has a metal plate as a permanent reminder of the injury four weeks before the tournament started.

Zedginidze missed Georgia's historic opening match - an 84-6 loss to eventual champions England - but played in the three remaining Pool C matches after only a five-week recovery period.

New rewards await 

Looking back on the physical side-effects that he has had to deal with throughout his career - one that began against Ireland in November 1998 and has yielded 13 tries in 48 Tests - Zedginidze's feelings are clear.

"You can't spend life being afraid. The risk on the rugby pitch is a bit higher, but the joy and pleasure gained is also really high. The emotion is higher than any injury you can have," he explained.

"Maybe even death," he added as an afterthought.

Despite the rewards that he gained from the sport, Zedginidze knows the time has now come to retire.

"I will stop my rugby career after the world cup. I want to go home. I've spent too long outside my country."

Ten years of playing outside Georgia has meant nine months per year away from family and friends. The captain has undoubtedly had enough and is ready to embrace "the world outside rugby".

Frustrated spectator 

"Of course I'll be in touch with rugby anywhere that I am for (the rest of my) life, but it's not clear yet to which degree that will be."

Although now the team must play without him against Namibia and France at RWC 2007, he is not worried about their ability to step up to the challenge.

"I think the guys are very well prepared. They'll have to play for me too now, and they're ready for this."

But not playing in the match against Namibia could be particularly hard - as it could herald Georgia's first ever IRB Rugby World Cup victory.

"It's always horrible to watch a game from the sideline. I've done it many times and I know what it's like. You spend much more emotion outside the field than in.

"The match against Namibia will be hard for both teams. The well-prepared team will win. It won't depend on the levels of ability, just on the better approach - both physically and mentally."

RNS lz/kb/sek