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Letter 2 from Tbilisi

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Johan Greeff, a TMO at World Rugby's Under-20 Championship is telling us what he and Mark Lawrence and Jaco van Heerden have been up to.

Week 2 started with Match Day 2 on Sunday, 4 June. I am in Kutaisi for this round of matches and as previously explained we travelled yesterday.

The stadium is small but beautiful. The facilities are great. We saw two good matches played and had to head home (Tbilisi) after the matches. The trip back is always longer and we just had to break it up in two, firstly because we were hungry and secondly to take a break. Below a photo of Team Kutaisi for this trip.

It was at this stop that we had our first Georgian feast. The Georgian referee, Shota, did the ordering and wow, what a surprise. More than enough for everyone, too much actually and very cheap. Below is the beautiful view from the restaurant in the middle of nowhere next to the road.

Well-fed we again hit the road and arrived in Tbilisi at about 23:30. The referees who did the late local games were still having dinner, but for us a good time to go to bed.

Monday is review day and we all review our games with referees and performance reviewers. For me, it is a reflection of how well I managed with the new (to me) Hawk-eye system and where I can make improvements. Also whether the referees on the day was happy with the support they got from me and whether something should be changed or adjusted.

Below is a photo of the Hawk-eye system, set up and ready for action. The water and the coke is my normal match “stash”. Watching a TV screen makes you thirsty!

Just to explain it a little. Bottom right screen is the real-time broadcast screen with a 3 second delayed screen top right. These are the 2 screens I use.

On the left, you have the screens used by the Hawkeye operator. Bottom left is the one where he can see all the different cameras and when we look at an incident, he can select the footage of any of the cameras. Top left is the live feed from camera 1. On this, we can see if play has restarted while highlights are being aired by the broadcaster.

Very interesting is that when reviewing an incident, the hawk-eye operator might offer the broadcaster the footage used to review, which make it much quicker as I have already seen most footage and decided which angle is the best to use. This saves a lot of time in most instances.

On Tuesday we had our workshop in which we discussed some interesting events from the different games to align ourselves for the tournament. Some interesting discussions were raised and it was also good to see that some referees were willing to put themselves up for criticism from the team regarding decisions they made during their games. Great discussions.

We also received the appointments for match day 3 and guess who the lucky one is to do a second trip to Kutaisi? None other than myself. This time I was the “senior” traveller and could make some suggestions on the departure times, places to eat, etc.

Wednesday was a rest day for all and most of us took the day at a slow pace. Team Kutaisi had to depart from Tbilisi at 16:00 and after a late breakfast it was packing and resting before we hit the road.

After about 2 hours’ drive, it was time to take a break and we stopped at a place that looked as if no-one was there. It was actually a restaurant and this time Nika (Georgian referee) ordered the Georgian feast and he did not disappoint. We once again had a good feeding with a beautiful view.

On arrival in Kutaisi, it was straight to our rooms to get some rest. Tomorrow is match day 3. 

Thursday and match day 3 and today’s games will determine who plays who on semi-finals day.

Today is also the day that everyone involved supported the “KEEP RUGBY CLEAN” campaign in support of WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency). So we all dress up in pink shirts provided clearly stating our stance against doping.

Being involved in both games it is an early start for me. With the matches kicking off at 13:00, we can take it easy in the morning as the drive to the field is only about 15 minutes.

At breakfast, we had our pre-match discussion and we were ready to go. The games went OK, with an incident in game 1 we could have handled differently.

After match 2 it was time to get on the road again and head back for Tbilisi. Once again the planning is to stop for dinner half way and so it was done.

Again Nika took control of the ordering process and with everybody expressing their levels of hunger during the ride to the restaurant he let rip with another Georgian feast with some extras. 

Needless to say, we had a good go at this feast to such point where some of us just gave up. And all Nika is doing is smiling, because he knows his mission was accomplished.

On arrival in Tbilisi, we said hello to the rest of the team and headed off to bed after the long travel.

The next two days, Friday and Saturday, were review and workshop days. Diligently everyone got their reviews done and prepared what to present the next day at the workshop, which again raised some interesting discussions with eventual outcomes of what we wanted to achieve in future should similar incidents arise.

The appointments for the next matches was announced and then we had time off until next match day.

Saturday evening and another highlight. The Bokkies invited us to come and watch SA play France at their hotel. It was great to be in a room with the youngsters and experience their passion for the game and the national team. Absolutely fantastic.

Jaco, Mark and I celebrated the win with a McFlurry (really) and that was Week 2 done and dusted.

Johan Greeff
From Tbilisi, till next time.

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