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They're Playing Our Song: Rugby World Cup Day Twelve

01st October 2019

National pride is often intertwined with national anthems. All the more reason to get them right


When we see competitors crying at the sound of their national anthem before an international match or during a medal ceremony their patriotism is intertwined with excitement, elation and relief, but there’s no mistaking the impact of the music of their homeland. 

Georgia’s excellent win over Uruguay on Sunday was something to celebrate, but the World Cup organisers dropped the ball when paying tribute to the victors by playing a Russian song. Russia and Georgia have a complicated history, and their war of 2008 opened wounds that haven’t healed.

The Georgia team’s anger was understandable. Their culture and national identity is distinct from Russia’s, and Georgian language dates back to the 5th century AD. In fairness to the tournament organisers this is the first major mistake they’ve made during an event that will be remembered for the hospitality and enthusiasm of its hosts. And if they want to feel better about themselves they should think of the mistake made by the hosts of the 2012 World Shooting Championship in Kuwait. Kazakhstani gold medallist Maria Dmitrienko was left bemused and offended when, instead of her country’s national anthem, the organisers played a parody song from the movie Borat, which poked fun at every aspect of life in her homeland and is banned from cinemas there.


After the six-nations participants, Georgia are widely regarded as the next best European team. Their record against neighbours Russia bears that out. Georgia have won 21 of their 23 matches against Russia, drawing one and losing one.   


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