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Russian Rugby: Making Progress in Recent Years
November 27, 2012 21:48

by Liam Riordan  

It would be fair to say that Russia is rarely talked about in relation to sport, let alone rugby union. In fact, most people don't even realise that the Russians have a rugby team. However, while they may not be one of the strongest international outfits in the world, the Russians do play and have even managed to reach a major tournament in the last couple of years. Bearing this in mind, here's a brief look at the Russian rugby team for those people who didn't really have a clue they existed!

Russian rugby team Hong Kong tournament 2008


As you would expect, Russia haven't always been known by this name in international rugby terms and this was due to their Soviet Union connections. While a team for the Soviet Union was established all the way back in 1936, it wasn't until 1974 when the Soviet Union played their first game. Of course, the sport wasn't without its controversies and the Soviet Union actually rejected an opportunity to play in the 1987 Rugby World Cup due to political reasons.

The Russian team as we know today was formed fairly recently, in 1992 to be precise. Despite being established for such a short period of time, the country is showing real signs of progression and is regarded as one of the best teams in the second level of the Six Nations. Moreover, the situation only seems to be improving, after the IRB now included the team in the global schedule - meaning that the team will play plenty of the world's elite over the next few years.

The best Russian players of all time

In comparison to most national outfits, the Russians cannot really draw up a list of legends as they have not been playing competitively for a prolonged period of time. Undoubtedly, one of the most famous players in Russia is Alexander Khrokhin and while he happened to retire in 2011, the fact he represented his nation for nine years was impressive enough. During this time he managed sixty eight caps and when this is compared to most players, many will sneer at such a figure. However, it has to be mentioned again that up until recently the Russian schedule was very bare and it simply wasn't possible for players to string together a lot of caps.

Another popular player in Russia was Andrey Kuzin. Some regard Kuzin's achievements as much more impressive than Khrokhin, as this player was just two caps short of his teammate after managing sixty six appearances between 1997 and 2011. However, it's Kuzin's try record that most point to, with the player currently holding the record for the most amount of tries scored after managing nineteen during this period.

In the modern day, it could be said that Yury Kushnarev is approaching legendary status. Having played for the team since 2005, Kushnarev is still a key player for the Russians and the fact he has 351 points from 51 caps speaks volumes about his success.

The future for the Russians

Any person who has an interest in rugby could definitely be advised to watch a fixture involving the Russians, if it correlates with their visit. While they are still regarded as quite a deprived nation in terms of status within the game, they are certainly improving and it should be mentioned that they at least appeared in the most recent World Cup in 2011. Moreover, while some people won't take any notice of IRB World Rankings, the Russians are currently ranked in a respectable 19th spot and have shown signs of improvement. Bearing this in mind, anybody wishing to attend a game involving the Russians in the near future will undoubtedly be attending a fixture involving one of the up-and-coming teams of world rugby.

Image credit

Our sports writer today is Liam who loves rugby union and league. He writes and blogs about international rugby and the six nations in particular. Using his sports knowledge he likes to make a few quid by exploiting the odd bet bonus in domestic and international sporting events.

Author: Julia Shuvalova

Tags: Russian sport Russian rugby    

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