Georgia's record-breaking boy Lobzhanidze is now a man seizing his moment

Through marriage, fatherhood and relocation, the youngest player to feature at a World Cup has grown up quickly in four years.

NAGOYA, 20 Sep - Georgia's Vasil Lobzhanidze became the youngest player to feature at a Rugby World Cup when he took to the field against Tonga at RWC 2015, at the age of 18 years and 340 days.

The scrum-half is still young in years and looks, but life on and off the pitch is very different. He got married, had a child, and left Georgia in 2016 to play club rugby in France.

"My life changed a lot after the 2015 World Cup," Lobzhanidze said.

"Everybody in Georgia knew our names afterwards, especially me because I was the youngest ever to play at a World Cup.

"My personal life also changed. I got married and had a son, Nicoloz. He was born while I was in Japan last year (with Georgia on their 2018 tour) so I didn't see him until he was four days old when I returned to Georgia."

After meeting his new son, Lobzhanidze, pictured above with his son, returned to France for club duties with Brive, and within a few months his wife and baby were able to join him, where they now live together as a family.

"Having a child gives me more motivation to play rugby, and of course, I hope he will play rugby like his father."

'Vaska', as he is known to his team-mates, comes from a typically large Georgian family. He has a twin sister 10 minutes younger than him, as well as two older sisters and an older brother.

His older siblings all have children – seven, to be exact – meaning little Nicoloz has plenty of cousins ready to throw a ball around when he returns home to Georgia during holidays.

But despite his affinity for the lifestyle in France and its famously fine food, Lobzhanidze does miss one Georgian specialty – khachapuri, a cheese-filled bread he often prepares for his fellow countrymen at Brive.

The club was promoted to France's top flight in 2019, which Lobzhanidze describes as his proudest moment in club rugby, and will feature eight Georgians in 2019/20 – including RWC 2019 squad members Otari Giorgadze, Tedo Abzhandadze and Vano Karkadze.

"The Georgian players in Brive like to get together and I cook khachapuri for them, which is like Georgian pizza. In Georgia we make the bread ourselves, but in France I just buy some pizza bread and add in the mozzarella, feta and other ingredients.

"We are now eight Georgian players at Brive, and we are together every day. We are very close, just like a family."

With 45 test caps to his name, Lobzhanidze has experience beyond his years, but remains as humble and unassuming as the record-breaking youngster at RWC 2015.

"I am around the same age as the other younger players in the team, and I don't really feel like I am superior or more senior to them," he said.

"I try to use my experience to act like a senior player, but I think we are all on an equal level. We all train together and do the hard work together. Sometimes they help me, and sometimes I help them. There is no hierarchy."

RNS amh/pr/icr/ajr