Most members of the Russian rugby team play in Russia’s domestic leagues so few names will be familiar to world cup audiences. Here’s a quick guide to some of the key Russian players to watch in this year’s Rugby World Cup.
Melbourne Rebels, Lock, Age 30, Uncapped
Byrnes is probably the best known of Russia’s players, despite having not yet played for Russia in an international match. Australian by birth, Byrnes qualifies for Russia through his maternal grandparents.
Probably best described as a solid professional player, Byrnes has played for a number of clubs in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, including Leinster, Sydney Reds and, most recently, the Melbourne Rebels.
A lock, he will be bring much needed experience to the Russian pack, which is likely to struggle against some of its more experienced opponents.
Northampton Saints, Wing, Age 24, 25 Caps
Artemiev is one of the brightest young talents in the Russian team. A flashing winger, he is able to both score tries and create chances. In his 25 matches for the Russian team so far, he has scored an impressive 9 tries, so Russia will depend heavily on him to get on the scoreboard.
Artemiev learned the game while a student at the Blackrock College in Ireland, and went on to play for the Irish Under 19s side. On returning to Moscow in 2008, he joined VVA Pdomoskovye, Russia’s leading club side and began to play for the Russian national team. His performances since then have attracted the attention of a number of professional clubs, and in March 2011, he became the first Russian player to sign for an English Premiership team – he will start his English rugby career with Northampton Saints when he returns from RWC 2011.
VVA Podmoskovye, Hooker, Age 28, 54 caps
Since making his test debut against the Netherlands in 2002, Korshunov has played 54 matches for the Bears, and has rumbled over the line for an impressive five tries. Only two players in the Russian squad have more caps than Korshunov, and his substantial captaincy experience (at both domestic and national level) will be tested to the limit during this campaign.
Other Players to watch
As well as the players highlighted above, keep an eye out for:
Igor Galinovsky – a centre from Krasny Yar, Galinovsky’s impressive sevens performances have earned him a well deserved world cup spot. He will relish the opportunity to play Australia – he scored a hat trick of tries as Russia routed the Aussie sevens team 21-5 earlier this year.
Viacheslav Grachev – Aged 38, Russia’s grizzled vice captain will become the second oldest player ever to take part in a Rugby World Cup tournament. Playing at number 8, his experience in French rugby (he currently plays for Bizanos) will come in vital.
Denis Simplikevich – An uncapped fullback, the 20 year old Simplikevich’s impressive performances for Russia’s sevens team this year have earned him a ticket to New Zealand. He’ll struggle to earn a starting spot ahead of the experienced Igor Klyuchnikov, but if he does make it on to the field, he’ll be one to watch for the future.
You can find out more about the Russian squad in our full Russian players list, and more about Russia’s campaign at our Russian Rugby World Cup Homepage.
Russia will give Australia a few shocks quite likely in the match this weekend.Keep in mind, the USA “B” (with only 1 player who played against Russia), held this Australian team to 10-5 until 28 minutes into the first half.That is a long time.They were given some special and unexpected motivation for this game just shortly before the game.Pre-Game TV showed American players with bright, confident, excited faces just one minute before the match.At the same time,the Australian players had faces of boys who looked like they were going to their death.
Russia can do the same with a stronger team than that one from USA.The looks of impending death on the faces of the Australian( Wallabies) players was like prophecy.At half time, the score was still only 22-5 and likely some decisions by the referee were not great.By the end of this game, no less than 5 Aust players had left the field with injuries form hard, fierce, yet legal and fair play by those USA players.
Monday headlines read ” Mauled Wallabies Worried “, Battered Wallabies!”, and the Australian coach whom curiously is a New Zealander who has never before lived in Australia to be able to understand the psyche and culture of the players said ” There are no easy games in this world cup.You can think some might be, but you only have to look at the carnage (pointing to 5 wallaby players being treated for injury) to see that.The point is that USA players like Russian players come mostly from Club Rugby and they play and train for Club Rugby.This writer is a double PhD candidate in Sports Science and also in Sports Engineering and has over a four year period worked for the coach of the 1991 Wallabies that won the 1991 World Cup.This Australian team the USA men played are not the same standard as the 1991 Australian Team.They were bred in tough Brisbane and Sydney Club competitions where this writer was at times on the field and such matches would commonly have up to six or seven Wallabies in one side and eight or ten Wallabies in the other side.So, that is more National Players than what are often on the field in the Sanzar Super 15 Competition made from 5 teams each from South Africa, Australian and New Zealand.
The scientific point this writer saw proven in the USA V Australia match, just as this writer was predicting was that, players taken often from high school graduation and into National Teams or after just one or two years of club Rugby…….really are Athletes playing Rugby.They are like prime beef fed on grain and housed in barns so they do not get wet or cold at night.So, they train with weights, sprints and fancy things and with each other a bit, yet at $ 3,000 to $15,000 a week cost, no one wants to risk injury to them.Club Rugby players do not have such fancy training that is based on some scientific principles yet neglecting many that are characteristic to Club Rugby Players.So, this supposedly B USA team, whilst in the end defeated in score by 67-5, yet not in spirit, proved physically tougher than their larger, faster highly paid opponents, whilst these Rugby Playing Men from USA nearly all play for the love of their game of Rugby, just as do the Russian Men.
This writer has proved some interesting Rugby Principles in this area in the past.For example, this writer was requested to assist a Team of Native People (black people) from one end of a small island called New Britain in Papua,Their request was, “Greg, can you give us some tips against Qld Reds Academy team (Adam Byrnes City Semi Professional players in training to make the Qld Super XV team for which Adam played).This writer replied, ” I will be delighted, and we will do better than that.I will show you how to beat them.” I speak their language as i lived on that Island for 12 years as a child before returning to Australia.They were ony about 75% of the size of the Qld boys. What happened? I gave their coach special tuition for small players from Club Rugby to play against larger, faster stronger semi-professional players all from the best Rugby Schools in Qld, and some special tactics. I wish i could have time with the Coach of Russia this week.What happened…..? This was sevens Rugby, Qld went to a 12 Nil lead , The Kimbe Rebels caught up at 12-12 and to the astonishment of QLD, then defeated them by 19-12 for the first win ever at that level.
So, take heart Russia……..look at your match against Ireland.With consistency of Referee decisions, it could easily have been 12-5 at half time. Example, early in the game, Russia attacked and gained a Lineout on the Ireland 5metre line.The referee stopped play saying the Russian throw to the Lineout was not down the middle.Maybe so, yet there have been very few of this decision in this World Cup,Assume he was correct……Ireland had choice of another Lineout or a scrum, chose the scrum, put the ball terribly into the scrum towards their own side to Russia could not compete for it in this difficult position for Ireland on their own goal line.That was a Fee Kick for Russia and a chance for Russia to score.Did the Referee award that Free Kick to Russia……no, hye did not! ;Later in the game, Ireland was attacking the Russian Goal Line and an Irish player dragged a Russian player out of the back of an Irish Ruck…the he dragged that player some 5 metres more across the filed so he could not defend.That was two times illegal…di the Referee award a penalty to Russia? No, he ignored this and awarded a try to Ireland from that same Ruck.
So,……later Russian attacked and did very very well.So……no stage fright is necessary for this Game against Australia.Just get stuck into them,This is Rugby and new Nations at the World Cup deserve a fair chance and also a lot of support. So this is Rugby! The spectators at this game are largely going to see ……yes….Russia….they can Australia any time as New Zealand plays them generally three to four times every year.There will be crowd support for the Russian Bears and one might think a Bear can have a Wallaby for Dinner anytime, just as happened recently when Russia gave Australia a hiding in the Seven a Side Rugby Sport that has all the same elements of the 15 man game.
Adam Byrnes knows all the opponents, and Adam Brynes is a better player than many might think.In my estimation, he was Wallaby material a few years ago when he was playing in Qld, where this writer developed the new Science that is known as The Systems Engineering Analysis Method of Skill Creation for Ball Sports ( With special applications to Rugby where it was developed initially) The other item this writer has developed is known as Optimal Game Theory for Body Contact Ball Sports( Again, developed in Rugby) and it was some of that which enables small men to defeat much larger men.
Good Luck Russia.There are only 15 opponents just as you are 15 players and when you tackle their legs, they fall on the ground and have to let the ball go ju8st like anyone else in Rugby.Then that ball is there for you to pick up and score tries as you know you can!