Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Milton Haig committed to Georgia


His time in charge has been far from perfect, but Kiwi coach Milton Haig has immersed himself in the Georgian culture and committed himself to helping the national team and Georgian rugby. 

Haig's time in charge has not all been easy, there has been lowpoints as well of the highs of recent wins over Samoa and the ENC Grand Slam, but one thing that he cannot be accused of is any lack of effort towards working to boost Georgian rugby.

The appointment of the former Counties Manukau coach came about during the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand. Georgia were searching for a new coach to takeover the team from Richie Dixon, who would move into a different role, and approached the NZRU for advice on any possible candidates for the job. Haig, who has also worked with the All Blacks U20 side in the past, was put for forward and jumped at the offer.

Unlike some other notable coaches of Tier 2 nations, this doesn't appear to be a career move until the next job comes along, Haig has fully committed to the role and invested into the project.

Haig has moved with his family to Georgia and worked hard to learn the language, which is especially commendable as it is a harder one that uses a different alphabet, something that many English speakers don't bother to do.

Whilst he is helped by the English speaking members of the coaching staff and squad to translate, he now told the New Zealand Herald that he speaks 70% Georgian at training sessions and only uses English for more detailed explanations. He also said that he is aiming to be soon fluent enough to do interviews, press conferences and meetings without a translator.

Appointing a foreigner in a national team coach role often has that debate about wanting the overseas expertise, but not wanting to lose an element of the national culture of the team. Haig to his credit, has immersed himself into Georgian life and learnt the history and culture of the nation. He has inherited the national team at a fascinating point of time of their rugby history, a point of time where there is potential to build into a rugby nation and leave a legacy. There is a lot of work and challenges ahead, but that Georgia have a coach dedicated to helping them face them can only be a good thing.


  1. his touch on the team can definitely be felt when watching the games, but i don't think we will see him as a head coach after RWC 2015, even in the case of a successful performance by Lelos. but he might be offered to stay an work with the Georgian Rugby Union like his predecessor Richard Dixon. but non the less his dedication to the Georgian rugby and culture is admirable!

  2. Why do you think that? If the side continues to evolve (that's a big if), and the World Cup is positive then why would he not get a contract extension?

  3. as you have mentioned in your article Haig worked with U20 all blacks, he also worked with a team outside super 15, in new zealand. so doesn't really have too much coaching experience. he has done a lot for the team, meaning that they don't drop the ball every second phase and so on, but he can't give the team much more in my opinion .
    and yes he was chosen by Georgian Rugby Union, but mainly because he was the best that they could afford with their previous budget ( around 11mil GEL over 3 year time, as i remember). now that the budget has tripled the Union can hire a better coach from year 2015, which can build on Haig's achievements and take the team to the next level

  4. Budget didn't triple Gia Nijaradze explained that in Arena. also having a more qualified coach means nothing if he's not committed and motivated, eg; Tim Lane

  5. Haig is the best coach Georgian team ever had.I'll be happy to see him in the same position after RWC 2015.

  6. as i know, correct me if i'm wrong, the funding from the government went to 33 mil GEL (over 3 years time). maybe the coach salary didn't go up but overall funding did increase. but again i might be wrong.
    i agree that just a better qualified coach doesn't mean too much without commitment and huge dedication to the team, but in my opinion the GRU will be looking for a for a coach who will match all the above mentioned criteria.

  7. Those 33 mln Gel is for domestic championship and RWC preparation. Unless sound sponsor is obtained, GRU will not be able to afford First Class coach.