Russian rugby Under-21’s reach for World Junior Trophy bronze
Russia's Under-21 rugby team have made another step towards reaching the world's elite after claiming bronze at the World Junior Trophy, which took place in Moscow at the weekend.
The achievement should also help make an impact in promoting the game across the country.
The Russian team was making their debut at the tournament, considered to be the second-most prestigious youth competition.
The hosts finished second in their group, setting up a battle for third place with arch-rivals Romania.
Those games are always full of tension and the latest clash was no exception.
Russia took an early lead, but a few penalties allowed Romania to put their noses in front. They finished the first half leading by five points.
But the home side upped their game after the break and managed to tie it at 20-each with a few minutes to go, to take the match into extra-time, during which Russia were awarded a penalty kick.
Denis Kukishev made no mistake, ensuring the bronze medal went to the home side.
“I wasn't nervous before the penalty kick. I knew I had to forget about earlier misses. And I'm very happy I won this game for my team. This a great day,” he said.
A big achievement for the Russian youngsters, demonstrating the recent progress made in developing the game across the country. The senior team will make their debut at the World Cup in New Zealand next year.
Meanwhile, the Under-21’s coach was sure his side could have done even better in Moscow.
“We could've reached the final. We played well against Japan in our first game at this tournament, but missed some conversions. And before the event, we failed to get some good opponents for friendlies, and that seems to have cost us,” Andrey Cherevichny said.
Italy won the trophy, leaving no chance for Japan in the final.