Former Wallaby Morgan Turinui has joined the chorus of admiration for two incredible stories involving the Ukrainian rugby community amid the Russian invasion.
Giorgi Dzanghirian, the former Ukraine Rugby president, has bravely joined his country’s defence force at the age of 83.
And Italian rugby club Zebre organised a bus to rescue 49 family members of players for Ukrainian club Kyiv RC Polytechnic.
Zebre said most of the 49 were women, children and the elderly while the RC Polytechnic players stayed in Ukraine “to fight, by choice and by necessity.”
The link between the clubs was established after a RC Polytechnic player watched a Zebre game in Parma several months ago.
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“Good rugby stories coming out of the terrible things we’re seeing in the Ukraine,” Turinui said on Stan Sport’s Rugby Heaven.
“Out of the danger zone and into Italy, good to see the rugby team helping out.”
Zebre said the bus passengers were “in good health” after arriving in Parma and have also launched a fundraising campaign to support the Ukrainian families.
“A frightening drama has engulfed all those kids and their families, the world has turned upside down and many of them are struggling to survive right now,” Zebre president Michele Dalai said.
“We did what we felt was right to do at a time like this.
“If we say we are a big family, it is in these situations that we have the opportunity to prove it.”
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Meanwhile, Georgia has qualified for the 2023 Rugby World Cup after organisers clarified the suspension of Russia and Belarus due to the war in Ukraine.
Russia’s remaining three matches in the Rugby Europe Championship — doubling as World Cup qualifying — were ruled abandoned by the RWC board.
Georgia, the Netherlands and Portugal were awarded four points each.
That mathematically qualified Georgia, which led the championship unbeaten with two games in hand.
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Only the top two teams automatically qualify for the World Cup, and third placed Portugal was 10 points behind Georgia with one game left.
Portugal, Spain, and Romania remain in contention for the second berth.
The third placed team will advance to the repechage tournament in November.
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Georgia has to wait to find out whether it has qualified for the World Cup in France next year as Europe 1, which would put it in a pool with Australia, Wales and Fiji, or Europe 2 with defending champion South Africa and Ireland.
Georgia has qualified for every World Cup since 2003 but has yet to get out of the pool stage.
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