On 23 November the Russian rugby team played the USA at the home of London Saracens. Despite a 7 – 28 loss, Russia’s status in world rugby is growing.
Russian rugby fans in London
The Bears qualified for the last World Cup in 2011, where they scored three tries in a defeat to Australia, and another against Ireland. Since 2006 they have been ever-present in the top 20 of the IRB world rankings. The 2013 Rugby Sevens World Cup was held in Moscow, where both the men’s and women’s teams won games. Russia now has national and regional competitions for rugby union, league and sevens.
The country’s best players are on the books of professional clubs in Britain, and when a player leaves a Russian team, his replacement is often brought in from New Zealand. Surprisingly, Russia’s rugby capital is not Georgian-heavy Moscow, or even French-styled St. Petersburg, but the southern Siberian outpost of Krasnoyarsk – a nondescript industrial town where the country’s two most successful clubs, Yenisey-STM and Krasniy Yar, play their games. The Russian championship, whose 18-game season runs from April to October, also has squads from Moscow, its satellite town of Monino, Kazan in Tatarstan, and Krasnodar in the North Caucasus.
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