Sppedster Aka Tabutsadze is Georgia's answer to Louis Rees-Zammit

Aka Tabutsadze is Georgia’s answer to Louis Rees-Zammit: The speedster is out to strike down Wales at the World Cup – as he reveals how his tattoos help him run fast!

  • Georgia will face Wales at Stade de la Beaujoire in Nantes on Saturday afternoon
  • Dan Biggar says he WILL be back fit for Wales’ Rugby World Cup quarter-final 

There will be two players sporting lightning bolt tattoos on the field at Stade de la Beaujoire in Nantes on Saturday when Wales face Georgia.

Like Welsh speedster Louis Rees-Zammit, Lelos wing Aka Tabutsadze has always been used to moving at pace and has reflected that in the form of permanent ink.

‘I have a few tattoos. They help me to run fast,’ Tabutsadze tells MailSport, pointing out his artwork.’

The first one I had was my dog. His name is Vinny. I have another one called Renato. This tattoo is Octane from Apex Legends – the video game. Octane is a legend! He gets an injection in the heart and then runs so fast. It helps me! I play Apex Legends with Gela Aprasidze, our No 9.

‘I have always liked going fast. I grew up riding horses. I was five-years-old when I started – I love it so much. When I’m resting from rugby, I go to my village to ride. It’s the best thing for me.’I only have one horse now. His name is Argento.’

Eyeing an upset: Georgia wing Aka Tabutsadze

Rees-Zammit is undoubtedly one of the quickest players at the current World Cup in France and at 22, he has the world at his feet. Tabutsadze is not as fast, but his scoring statistics are better.

The 26-year-old is Georgia’s record try-scorer with 30 in just 34 games. Rees-Zammit, by contrast, has 11 tries in 30 matches.

Tabutsadze’s international mark is especially impressive given not just the country he plays for, but the fact he only took up rugby at 16.

Rees-Zammit’s professional debut came two years after Tabutsadze had first picked up a ball at 18.

‘I started rugby a little bit late. Before that I played football for five years,’ Tabutsadze says. ‘I loved it from the first training and after that it was just rugby. Now, it’s my life.

‘My secret is my team, my boys. When they see me in space, they give me the ball and then it’s easy for me to score! Without them, I couldn’t have scored half the tries I have.

‘I couldn’t have imagined 10 years ago my dream would have come true. It’s amazing for me and I’m so proud and happy.’

Tabutsadze, one of Georgia’s most exciting backs alongside his team-mate Davit Niniashvili, had what would have been a crucial 31st try ruled out in his team’s defeat by Fiji.

His effort was chalked off by referee Karl Dickson for a forward pass on the half-time whistle, meaning Georgia went to the break 9-0 ahead when it could have been 16-0. Fiji came back in the second half to win 17-12, inflicting a second World Cup loss on Georgia after an opening defeat by Australia and a draw with Portugal.

Georgia have been disappointed with their tournament to date. They remain hopeful of more games against the game’s elite and in their last match with Wales, they won 13-12 in Cardiff.

Rees-Zammit is undoubtedly one of the quickest players at the current World Cup in France and at 22, he has the world at his feet

‘I think if we get to play in the Six Nations we can do many surprises. I think year after year, we are getting better. I don’t think they will regret it if they put us in,’ Tabutsadze adds.

‘We will have more players experienced at a high level and that will be good for the national team, so hopefully we can play some good games and our level can go up.’ 

When you’re playing against teams who are better than you, you are also getting better. It’s always good.

‘It’s every player’s dream to play for their national team at a World Cup. I’ve been waiting for this moment and I’m so happy now I’m here.’

In November last year, Welsh rugby hit a new low with a first loss to Georgia – the humiliating defeat at Principality Stadium hastening the departure of former head coach Wayne Pivac.

Nearly 11 months on, Wales’ national side is, to use their own words, in a ‘completely different’ situation having already sealed qualification from the World Cup’s group stages.

If they win their rematch with Georgia, Wales will record a fourth straight tournament success, seal top spot in Pool C, and set-up a likely quarter-final with Argentina.

Only four of the Wales side which started against Georgia in Cardiff in 2022 will begin this year’s game between the same teams.Prop Gareth Thomas is one of them. Rees-Zammit, George North and Tomos Williams are the others. Wales’ side for this weekend is far stronger than the last time they faced Georgia.

‘We are a completely different team to what we were last year,’ Thomas said.’There’s been a massive improvement in the squad but we know they (Georgia) are a very good side and we have to be on top of our game to be successful this weekend.

‘We want to keep the momentum we’ve had over the last few weeks here going. We’re trying to hold on to that and push and grow as a team as we go forward to the quarter-finals.’

How Louis Rees-Zammit and Aka Tabutsadze compare

Louis Rees-Zammit

Age: 22

Position: Wing

Caps: 30

Tries: 11

Club: Gloucester

Aka Tabutsadze

Age: 26

Position: Wing

Caps: 34

Tries: 30

Club: Black Lion

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