New Zealand transplant brings knowledge of the game to Georgia
Author: By Inga Popovaite
Our series of interviews dedicated to Georgia Today’s 12th Anniversary continue. In this issue, Milton Haig, from New Zealand and Head Coach of the Georgian National Rugby Team shares his impressions and challenges.
I met Milton Haig, Head Coach of the Georgian National Rugby Team, in the compounds of Rugby Union in southeast Tbilisi. He greeted me with a broad smile that did not disappear from his face the whole time we talked about his decision to come and train the Georgian team. We spoke about his future vision for this national sport, the differences between the two countries and daily life in Georgia.
Q: How did you decided to come and coach the Georgian Rugby team?
A: There are only three countries in the world where rugby is the national sport: New Zealand, Wales and Georgia. So I come from one of them to another and hopefully one day we’ll get to play the third.
It was an easy decision to make because the Georgians love the game… they are so passionate about it.
Even when it comes to not having the best resources in the world; if people have the enthusiasm and the passion, you get the things done. It was certainty what I thought before taking this job.
The Georgian National Rugby Union approached the New Zealand Rugby Union during the World Cup about possible candidates of coaching the Georgians. Luckily I’ve done a little bit of work for the New Zealand Rugby Union and they asked me if I’d be interested in this job and certainly I was! I was coaching in New Zealand– but actually coaching a national team? I haven’t done that! So it was a massive honor to be offered the job.
Q: Before coming here, did you know where you were going?
A: I knew where Georgia was, I knew a little about Georgian history and I sort of knew that it was in the south of Russia. What I didn’t quite realize until I looked on the map was that it was on the Black Sea. I am absolutely stunned about the history of this place – it is very interesting for me coming from the country that is only 240 years old and has no history whatsoever. For me, to find out more about the country, its culture and traditions, is a part of a loony experience.