Edinburgh Rugby today welcomed a significant boost to the club’s physical dimension with the signing of Georgia number 8 Dimitri Basilaia from Valence d’Agen.
The announcement serves as the latest filip for the Murrayfield club, which booked a place in the semi-final of the Heineken Cup with an historic 19-14 win over Toulouse, lining up a clash with RaboDirect PRO12 rivals Ulster at the Aviva Stadium in three weeks' time.
An international ever-present since 2008, Basilaia played a significant role in the much-praised physicality which underpinned Georgia’s Rugby World Cup in 2011.
He started all of the nation’s World Cup matches against Romania, Scotland and England – scoring his second international try against the men in white with a trademark surge from the base of the scrum.
Subject to a working visa, the 23-time capped 26-year-old will join the club at the start of the next season (2012/13) and will form a key part of an increasingly powerful forward unit being forged at the club, which will also welcome Free State Cheetahs’ prop WP Nel this summer.
Basilaia said: “First of all I'd like to congratulate Edinburgh Rugby for their impressive victory over Toulouse in Heineken Cup.
“It’s a great honour and opportunity for me to join such a high profile club and I’m really looking forward to being part of a very exciting future and playing alongside some very talented players.
“The arrival of a new player always heightens supporters’ enthusiasm and anticipation and I will not spare any efforts to meet those expectations from the moment I arrive in the capital.
“I’m in great shape, both physically and spiritually, and can’t wait to pull on the black and red shirt of Edinburgh Rugby.”
Head coach Michael Bradley first spotted the talents of the destructive ball carrier when he served as a technical coach alongside former Scotland and current Georgia head coach Richie Dixon in the build-up to the nation’s Rugby World Cup.
Bradley was delighted to confirm the signing believing that Basilaia has the ability to join the likes Jaba Bregvadze, Akvsenti Giorgadze [Toulouse] and Davit Zirakashvili [Clermont Auvergne] as the latest Georgian export to make a big impact on the European stage.
He said: “I believe that Dimitri [Basilaia] will prove to be a very significant signing for Edinburgh Rugby.
“He’s a fantastic fit for this club and will contribute a huge amount to an increasingly aggressive and combative forward unit at Edinburgh Rugby, while his ball handling skills are such that we can maintain and strengthen our fast-paced, offloading game.
“Dima has a tremendous work ethic and attitude to the sport. He’s very excited about joining the club and I know he’ll give everything to honour the black and red jersey.”
Edinburgh Rugby new signings: Dimitri Basilaia (Valence d'Agen), WP Nel (Free State Cheetahs), Greig Tonks (Northampton Saints)
Edinburgh Rugby re-signings: Alex Black, Tom Brown, Sean Cox, Geoff Cross, Nick De Luca, David Denton, Grant Gilchrist, Robin Hislop, Gregor Hunter, Lee Jones, Greig Laidlaw, Chris Leck, Harry Leonard, Stuart McInally, Lewis Niven, Ross Rennie, Matt Scott, Steven Turnbull, Tim Visser