British & Irish Lion Graham Rowntree has joined Georgia as forwards coach in advance of Rugby World Cup 2019.
The 47-year-old toured South Africa on the legendary 1997 Tour, starting five matches and making one appearance as a substitute, and New Zealand with the Lions in 2005, featuring in six matches and winning two Test caps.
He coached the forwards on the 2013 Tour, a series win in Australia. He was also the assistant coach (scrum) in South Africa in 2009 and for the drawn series in New Zealand in 2017. He has also coached with Leicester Tigers, England and Harlequins since retiring from playing in 2007 after a 17-year career that saw Rowntree rack up 398 appearances for Leicester.
He was announced as part of the Georgia coaching set-up at a press conference last week and will join a set-up led by New Zealander Milton Haig, who has been Georgia head coach since 2011.
The Lelos have long been a powerful force at Rugby World Cups, and Rowntree is excited to take on the challenge.
He said: “I’ve been a fan of Georgian forward play for a long time, and that’s the opportunity I could not miss. The warmth that has been shown to me by Milton and everyone else in the organisation, it spurred me and further increased my excitement and I can’t wait to get stuck into the games in the Autumn.”
Georgia will face Australia, Wales, Fiji and Uruguay at RWC 2019.