Round-up news: March 11

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Women’s Sevens

After a long wait, Russia’s women finally took part in the second leg of the HSBC Women’s Sevens World Series (WSWS) in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Coach Pavel Baranovsky named a much-changed side from the team which finished second in the Series opener in Dubai in December, giving debuts to a number of the wider squad who had spent many of the intervening weeks at an extended camp in Spain. Pool Play results didn’t go to plan, with Russia going down 19-12 to an after-the-hooter score by the Leonas of Spain before succumbing 19-10 to USA. However, there was cause for celebration in defeat with both tries being scored by Series debutants – Arina Bystrova and Anna Gavrilyuk. Russia ended Pool Play winless with a final round 10-40 defeat at the hands of a clinical New Zealand, who were more than happy to steepen the learning curve for Baranovsky’s young side.

Day 2 opened much more promisingly with a 15-0 shutout of an increasingly dangerous-looking Irish outfit, before the side really began to gel in the Plate Final, dotting down six times in a 38-12 win over Japan. Bystrova added two further scores and another newcomer, Elena Zdrokova, also got on the scoresheet with the 19-year-old receiving press acclaim for her performance at the tournament in general. Russia drop to sixth in the Series standings after the Plate win, but for debuting players to come home with silverware and valuable experience against the world’s best players are big positives as Baranovsky works toward his stated goal of creating a bigger talent base ahead of Olympic Repecharge in Dublin.

The next round is in Atlanta at the start of April, where Russia have drawn Canada, France and Ireland. Until then, a 24-strong squad has returned to Spain to prepare.

Opponent

Result

 

Spain

19-12 L

Pool

USA

19-10L

Pool

New Zealand

40-10 L

Pool

Ireland

15-0 W

Plate SF

Japan

38-12 W

Plate Final

 

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Men’s Sevens

The men’s side were also in the Americas, in a Las Vegas in full party atmosphere for the USA7s. Alexander Yanyushkin and the team included visits to local schools in the build-up to the tournament before the teams were unveiled in front of a loud crowd on The Strip. The opener was against Kenya, who went into the game tied 9-9 against Russia all-time in the Sevens World Series (SWS). At half-time there seemed little doubt who would move into the lead in those standings, as the long-time Series contender Kenyans led 19-5. SWS try-machine Vladimir Ostroushko had other ideas though, quickly scoring after his 74th SWS five-pointer after the break and German Davydov added his second of the game from the resulting kick-off. The Bears hung on to a slender 21-19 lead until the buzzer sounded, but it was the Kenyans who ended the game with match-stealing try to take it 24-21. If there was heartbreak for the Russians, there was perspective later in Pool Play, as the Kenyans produced a rare niling of New Zealand. The All Blacks found it easier against Russia, however, winning 38-0.

The three-day format in Vegas meant captain Dmitry Perov and his players had all night to dwell on that loss. And it showed, as Russia opened up Day 2 by notching a first-ever Pool Play win as a SWS Core Team, scoring five tries in a 31-0 win over Portugal. Next up was a Bowl QF against Canada, with DHL Impact Player performance by Ostroushko securing a 19-10 win, guaranteeing a new season-high placing for his team. Up next was long-time adversary France, and Davydov might have thought they’d secured revenge for a narrow Wellington Shield Final defeat as he scored to give Russia a 14-10 lead with seconds to play. It wasn’t to be, however, as the French scored the game’s winning try four minutes after the hooter to progress by the narrowest of margins.

Russia therefore finished 11th in Vegas, and move on to this week’s Canada7s in Vancouver in 15th in the Series Standings after leapfrogging Portugal. Individually, Ostrousko finished the tournament in joint second on the DHL performance tracker, despite playing one game less than most of those around him. He enters Vancouver fifth on the Series’ combined table, where he will have the chance to add to his stats in Pool Play against Quade Cooper and Australia, hosts Canada, and a rapidly improving Wales.

Opponent

Result

 

Kenya

24-21 L

Pool

New Zealand

38-0 L

Pool

Portugal

31-0 W

Pool

Canada

19-10 W

Bowl QF

France

14-15 L

Bowl SF

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ENC1A

Russia’s men’s fifteens team meanwhile contested Round Three of the European Nations Cup (ENC1A) in the city of Iasi, where they renewed our longest-standing rivalry against Romania. The Bears won the reverse fixture in Sochi last year, but the Oaks had a Rugby World Cup more of experience since then and, after an evenly contested first-half – the only points scored came through a try against a seven-man scrum, Romania really showed it in the second. A try by man-of-the-match Florian Vlaicu seemingly stunned the Bears, who gradually lost all the shape of the first-half and grew increasingly frustrated in attack. To top matters off, Azamat Bitiev received a red card toward the end of the game after the former wrestler retaliated to a headbutt from Andrei Gorcioaia, who was also sent off. A last-minute bonus point try for the Oaks topped off a miserable afternoon in Moldavia with a final score of 30-0.

Elsewhere, the were big home wins for Georgia – 38-7 over Spain, and for Germany, who scored a half-century in their maiden ENC1A victory as they saw off Portugal. Russia close out this two-year ENC1A cycle with a home game against Georgia, before finishing in Lisbon one week later and a strong chance of a bronze finish.

Team

Pts

Georgia

36

Romania

29

Russia

22

Spain

16

Germany

6

Portugal

6

 

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Internationals

This week, the Rugby Union of Russia was proud to announce summer international fixtures featuring a return to North America. The first game will take place against Canada in the shadows of the Rockies in Calgary on June 18, with the second seeing the Bears take on the United States in growing rugby hotbed Sacramento one week later. Russia has long-standing sporting rivalries with both countries and we are massively excited to be renewing these on the rugby field this summer.

In other fixtures news, it was announced that, for the first time in nearly a decade, Moscow will host a visiting England Counties team, with the U20s set to take on Russia’s best at junior level in the Russian capital on June 5 and 8.