Oxford University rugby beaten by Russian rivals
The host’s pressure in the moll resulted in Nikita Medkov’s first try for the hosts, which occurred in the opening minute of the match.
Slava were 19-12 ahead of the break and never let Oxford threaten their lead in the rest of the match, coming out as 22-19 winners.
“No, it didn’t. We knew they were going to be a very strong team, a professional team over here. Russian rugby has been on the up for a couple of years and they are obviously going to the world cup next year. We knew it was going to be tough and that’s exactly what we got,” Nick Haydon, Oxford Team Captain, said.
Russia has just proudly announced its entrance into the 2011 Rugby World Cup, and now it is scouring the nation for the biggest, the best and the brightest.
“This is a really extraordinary event for Russian rugby players, and perhaps not just for them. We all know how our rugby players and supporters were dreaming that our team would get to the World Cup,” Vyacheslav Kopiev, President of Russian Rugby League Federation, said.
Both teams planned and strategized heavily for the game, although for this rugby size does matter because Slava is big, but Oxford weight trainer Alex “Cheese” Cheesman defended his regimen.
“Oh, well I think the fact that we were a lot smaller but we weren’t bullied probably says a lot,” he said.
Slava’s coach says his men wanted a rugby lesson from England and got an A plus on this test.
“Every game with foreign teams of such level is a lesson for us. We wanted to show that we too can play rugby here. We were anxious before the game with the team from England where this game was born. Unfortunately it’s been underdeveloped in our country so far,” Sergey Lysko, Senior coach, Slava Rugby Club, commented.
His players say Oxford’s finesse didn’t go unnoticed, nor did their love of a laugh.
“We didn’t know those guys, therefore we didn’t really know what to expect. So we were anxious at first, it was fun though. Those guys had a joking approach in rucks and mauls, and we tried responding in the same way. I hope games like this will enable further development of rugby in Russia,” Sergey Dakalov, Slava Rugby Club fly half, said.
Oxford’s team manager – Veteran player John Carter Christ – even got pulled in to the match.
“We didn’t know what we were going to get, whether they were going to be stronger or weaker than us. But what we wanted was a hard game; they never gave up, we never gave up. And we got the hard game we were looking for. They had a lot of character. I’m looking forward to having a couple of vodkas with them afterwards,” John-Henry “JC” Carter said.
The Englishmen next travel to Russia’s Republic of Tatarstan, where they are scheduled to face the team of the Kazan Agricultural University on September 19.
The Oxford University Rugby Football Club has been in existence since 1869, having prepared hundreds of high-class players for the English national team.
Rugby, which was not played in Russia in Soviet times, is rapidly gaining popularity in the country in recent years.
In September 2011, the Russia’s national team will play in their Rugby Word Cup for the first time in their history. The rivals in Russia’s group will be the US, Italy, Ireland and Australia.