Round-up news: February 5

On the eve of the opening fixture of the Rugby Europe European Nations Cup 2016 (ENC1A) and the World Rugby Sevens World Series’ (SWS) fourth leg in Sydney, we look back at the last two weeks in Russian rugby …

Teams warn up in the HKRFU Cup of Nations at HKFC

ENC1A

Russia enters the first ENC1A of the new Rugby World Cup (RWC) cycle on the back of a three-week long training camp in Sochi. As part of the Rugby Union of Russia’s goal to create a deeper player pool at elite level, and borne of Enisei-STM’s participation in the European Challenge Cup (ECC) and Russia’s new status as a core team on the SWS, Coach Alexander Pervukhin was able to take a look at a wide range of players with little or no experience of the city’s world-class sports training facilities. He was aided by former Ulster and Saracens hooker Andy Kyriacou, brought in to pass on his top-level expertise and experience to the Russian front row, an area identified for improvement under the Union’s ‘project prop’ (more on that in a post later in the year …). Kyriacou worked with Russia’s front row units on line-outs, the scrum and a host of other skills. Among his students were Kirill Gotovtsev and Azamat Bitiev, two converts from Greco-Roman wrestling, a sport which offers Russia huge future crossover potential.

Following the completion of Enisei-STM’s ECC’s fixtures, a large number of national team stalwarts returned to Sochi (the scene of their famous win over Newcastle Falcons) to join up with the rest of the squad as several of the original group returned to their club sides for pre-season duties. Aside from the obvious benefits of raised competition and increased visibility for Russian rugby, Enisei’s European adventure has had one extra advantage — for the first time, Russian national team players have been playing competitive rugby throughout the winter.

Russia opens the 2016 edition of the tournament against Spain. Although having won all but three of the 25 previous encounters with the Leones, Russia suffered a 43-20 drubbing in Madrid in last year’s opening fixture. Russia’s home fixture’s will again be played in the temperate climes of Sochi, where we will host Spain, Germany and Georgia. Russia enter tournament ranked 18 th in the World the Rugby rankings, and with the the announcement all matches not involving Argentina in the concurrent inaugural edition of the Americas Rugby Championship (the ARC) will count for rankings points, there is a lot to aim for this spring.

Fixtures:

Opponent

Date

Venue

2015

Spain

6 Feb

Sochi

20-43 L

Germany

13 Feb

Sochi

22-46 W

Romania

27 Feb

Iasi

16-13 W

Georgia

12 Mar

Sochi

0-33 L

Portugal

19 Mar

Lisbon

21-8 W

Rugby Europe are premiering their new live-streaming service for this year’s ENC1A and fans around the world will be able to follow Russia’s progress at rugbyeurope.tv

ENC1A squad: Antonov’s Artemyev Babaev Butenko Elgin Gadzhiev Gaisin Galinovsky Garbuzov Gasanov Gotovtsev Krotov Kurashov Kushnarev Matveev Podrezov Pronenko Rudenko Rudoy Sekisov Selsky Shcherban Sidorov Simplikevich Temnov Uzunov Volkov Yagudin Yanyushkin Zykov 

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Men’s Sevens

After wrapping up a training camp in Portugal , Russia’s men’s sevens national team underwent an odyssey of journey to the third leg of the SWS in Wellington, New Zealand. There were welcome reunions with some of the New Zealanders who helped make our participation at RWC 11 such an experience. The business end of things was soon upon the team, however, and being paired with both the eventual finalists — hosts New Zealand, and South Africa — meant a tough start to the tournament, with two heavy losses. The results were not unexpected, Russia travelled to the round with by-far the lowest cap-count of any team — just Yury Gostyuzhev and on-field leaders Vladimir Ostroushko and Dmitry Perov had played in more than six events prior to kick-off, but there were promising signs in one-score losses to Scotland and to France, the latter in a second consecutive Shield Final. There was also reason to celebrate as Ostroushko bagged his 70 th SWS try.

Results:

Opponent

Result

 

New Zealand

38-7 L

Pool

South Africa

54-0 L

Pool

Scotland

19-17 L

Pool

Canada

35-12 L

Bowl QF

Wales

17-0 W

Shield

France

14-7 L

Shield Final

The side has now travelled on to Sydney Australia, meeting more RWC11 colleagues along the way and seeing Viktor Kononov give Quade Cooper some Russian lessons in the hotel lift. Another tough pool awaits, with South Africa and Scotland the Bears’ opponents for a third tournament out of four and Kenya, the only side that Russia holds a winning SWS record against at present.

Russia head into Sydney 15 th of the 16 teams on five points, two ahead of Portugal, two behind Japan.

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Women

Russia’s women’s sevens team meanwhile left the confines of the Novogorsk training centre and travelled to Villajoyosa in Spain for the next stage of their preparations for the second leg of the Women’s Sevens World Series (WSWS) in Sao Paolo, Brazil, later this month. Coach Pavel Baranovsky has been enjoying a helping hand in coaching the team, with RWC11 player and the Rugby Bears most-capped player of all-time, Andrey Kuzin, joining him on the coaching staff. Kuzin, who won 78 caps and played numerous times for the men’s sevens, has also been named head coach of Moscow region’s multi-Russian women’s sevens title-winners RGUTiS. He joins numerous RWC11 alumni in progressing up the coaching ranks and Alexander Yanyushkin in making national team assistant coach.

In other women’s rugby news, World Rugby this week unveiled its first (and retroactive) women’s world rankings for the XVs game. Russia, current Rugby Europe bronze medallists, enter at 19 th .

Ньюкасл-Енисей

Europe

As mentioned above, Enisei’s European bow came to an end two weeks ago, with the Krasnoyarsk side and 2014 Russian champions enduring a 47-5 defeat to Connacht in Ireland. Enisei finished the ECC with two wins, eight points and many heads held very high after a debut which brought with it many good points, not least huge lessons and highlighting where needs to be improved for the next Russian representative.

Kids

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(Credit: Penza Rugby)

A little snow and some sub-zero temperatures might halt the pros for the winter, but trying telling the kids they should not be out with a ball in their hands! A number of teams from across the Volga Federal District from the U12 and U19 age groups were in Kazan this week for a tournament. Teams from the Republics of Tatarstan, Mari-El and Udmurtia, as well as the Penza and Samara regions. Kazan’s Dynamo won the elder bracket, with Penza defeating Penza region in the final of the younger age-group.