VIDEO. XV of France – autumn tour: what is lelo, this extreme sport at the origin of the nickname of XV of Georgia?

the essential This nickname finds its origins in the deep roots of the country. A discipline sometimes the scene of violence, injuries, even death of the participants.

It is a tradition, which refers to the ancestral customs of a country. In Georgia, it is called the lelo. Both associated with the roots of this land and the national rugby team, opponent of the Blues on Sunday in Bordeaux (14 h) in the second match of the autumn tour, made it its nickname: the Lelos.

The lelo is not really a “sport”, rather an annual meeting, which has been held at Easter for at least 3 centuries. He could be called the distant Georgian cousin of rugby union. The parties are argued mainly in the villages.

The principle: on a vaguely delimited space (often by a natural element such as a river) which acts as a field, a leather ball is thrown after having sometimes been blessed by a priest. A ball, filled with sand, grass or fur, weighing between 15 and 20 kilos.

The two teams are made up of a variable number of players depending on the village. A dozen players, initially, the number is not decisive and can sometimes go up to several hundred players.

The goal is to recover the ball and take it to the opposing camp, beyond a limit determined in advance. Sometimes even, the inhabitants of a village aim, during the game, to bring the ball within the opposing village.

The parties can thus sometimes turn into a fist fight, and be the scene of injury or even death.

This tradition is inscribed in the Georgian intangible cultural heritage, and still remains anchored in the villages. Georgians’ skills for rugby union certainly have their origins in the lelo. Moreover, we sometimes hear falling from the spans, in the Georgian stadiums: “Lelo, Lelo, Sakartvelo!”, Translate: “Test, Test, Georgia!”

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