Georgia get warm welcome in cold south
QUEENSTOWN, 5 Sept. - Georgia's Rugby World Cup 2011 squad received a warm welcome as they arrived at Queenstown Airport on Monday.
They were greeted by an enthusiastic flag-waving crowd, including two local junior rugby teams sporting Georgia-style face painting.
The players then received Maori karanga and a powhiri (a welcome haka).
Georgia's Australian defence coach John Muggleton is convinced the welcome and the locals taking the team under their wing would have a positive effect on the squad.
"It'll make them feel at home," he said. "They're a long way from home and to be welcomed like this will set us off on a good foot, because they'll start to feel like they're accepted, which is great."
Queenstown Lakes District Council mayor Vanessa van Uden officially welcomed the Georgia squad and was pleased to see the reception they received.
"It was fantastic, I think the guys from Georgia were blown away," she said. "I think it makes you feel really proud to be from New Zealand and really proud to be from Queenstown."
After having already welcomed Ireland, who arrived on 1 September, mayor Van Uden said she was happy to have RWC teams in the town and recognised the positive aspects of hosting overseas visitors.
"We're absolutely delighted to have these guys here," she said.
"It's a huge opportunity for our guys to see some top-class world players and actually see them as people doing things we take for granted."
Georgia begin their RWC 2011 campaign with a match against Scotland in Invercargill on 14 September.
- South Africa
- New Zealand