Interview: Mikhaltsova sees lots of positives, things to strive toward following Dubai silver

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The Russian National Women’s Sevens Team returned to Moscow over the weekend after securing second place in the opening leg of the 2015-16 HSBC Women’s Sevens World Series. The result equalled Russia’s best-ever finish (Langford 2014) and saw the team secure its first-ever win against New Zealand. After arriving at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport, team member Alena Mikhaltsova – named in the tournament Dream Team after scoring eight tries — gave an interview to the press service of the Rugby Union of Russia.

 — The impressions of the tournament in Dubai were largely positive, Mihaltsova said.  The team fought to the end, and we are very pleased with second place. It’s the first time we have been able to win five-straight games in the World Series, but at the same time we know there is more to strive for and things to work on. The longer we are together, the better, I think.

— For the first time our national team beat New Zealand, at the same time giving the All Blacks their biggest-ever World Series loss [33: 7]. How did the Russian team manage this result against the best team in the world?

— It was the first game and we had prepared very well for New Zealand. Perhaps they gave up a bit toward the end. But we shook them until the end and eventually won (smiles).

 — The Russian team impressed with its levels of physical preparedness. Is it a case of another tournament and you will be at full strength?

 — Yes, our team is well prepared, but we did not prepare specifically for this tournament in itself. It was general physical training from our conditioning coach Vitaly. He led us to the tournament in the right form (smiles).

— The next stage of the World Series will take place on 20-21 January. What needs to be done to maintain the current form coming into Sao Paulo?

— First, we’ll be training and preparing individually, but in January, we will get together and I am sure that all will come in the form that we have now. All of us are professionals. Of course, we will not have game practice, but I think this is it’s not a problem.

— For you personally, this tournament was probably the best in your career.  Not only in scoring eight tries, but also the quality of your game overall. Was there some feeling of what was to come coming in Dubai?

— Before the tournament in Dubai, I felt that she ready to run, with good endurance.  Everything turned out this way in practice. To everyone on the team — well done! When they gave me the chances, I was able to finish off the tries.

— Were you especially inspired to play well in front of your husband [Men’s National Sevens Team member Alexander Mikhalstov]?

— We met before the games at the general meeting and we shared positive emotions and encouragements. I think it helped me to play well. Alex watched our games, and I wanted to show him that I can play well.

— Some of the previously unfancied teams surprised in Dubai. Not least the Fijians and Ireland.

— Everyone knows that Fiji’s women’s team trains with their [reigning Sevens World Series champions] men and they play the same game as them. Six months ago, they did not have the physical form to implement this, but now they do and pulled off surprises. Fiji are now a very worthy rival, one which has the ability to beat any team.

Press Service of the Rugby Union of Russia

Photo by Stanislav Kolpakov