It’s been a fortnight of mixed fortune for Russia’s Rugby Sevens team as they played in tournaments in both England and Scotland.
At their best, Russia were magnificent – they tied with England in Edinburgh this weekend. However, at other times, the Russian Bear seemed rather slothful, losing to teams it should have easily beaten – notably Spain and Portugal.
Edinburgh – Russia tie with England
The high point of the two tournaments had to be Russia’s epic tie with England – a match that Russia came within a whisker of winning.
Russia dominated the first half, rumbling into a 12-0 lead at the break. An Engand recovery in the second half left Russia in the unenviable position of being 17-12 down, with only added time to play. But the Bears rose to the occasion yet again, and kept the ball in play long enough to score an equalising try at the death.
Sadly, they could not convert the try, and secure a victory that would have been regarded as one of the biggest shocks of the season.
The missed kick cost Russia dearly. Had they defeated England, they would have finished second in their group, and qualified for the quarter finals.
Instead, poor points difference meant that England made it through – and eventually finished as tournament runners up.
Russia had to content themselves with a place in the Bowl (the second string) quarter final, where they were absolutey trashed (38-0) by Argentina.
Being relegated yet further, to the Shield tournament clearly did not suit the Russian team. They struggled into the shield final with a 7-0 victory over Kenya, before losing to Portugal in the final.
London Tournament – Russia underperforms
By contrast to the Russian team’s mixed fortunes in Edinburgh, their performance in London was at least consistent. Consistently poor.
Thrashed 31-7 and 33-10 by Scotland and Samoa respectively, Russia’s only respite in the pool stages came with a hard fought 17-7 victory over Kenya.
More disappointment came the next day in the knockout stages. A hard fought 17-12 loss to Canada in the quarter finals of the Bowl (B) tournament, meant Russia were demoted yet again to the semi finals of the Shield (C) tournament. A 12-7 defeat by a Spain team that Russia should really have beaten meant the Bears went home empty handed from their first tournament of the summer.
Clearly, though, the disappointment fired them up for the England game the following week…!
Next Stop – International Nations Cup
Next up for Russia is the International Nations Cup, where the 15 man team will get the opportunity to test themselves against Italy A, Romania and Uraguay. The tourament gets underway next week – expect a full report later this month.