For Volgograd, this is in many ways a significant event – it is not often that the Russian national rugby team comes to the south, and the city has never seen such a number of legionnaires. And, in principle, this is the first time that local rugby fans will be able to see the team’s colors play with their own eyes. Moreover, for the national team this is the first match after an 8-month break, the final one this year, and the last similar confrontation was already in 2013 in Moscow, at the Slava stadium. In general, the game will be iconic and exciting.
The press conference opened with an opening speech by the head coach of the PARI Russian Barbarians team JP Neila, who thanked the Rugby Federation for the opportunity to test their legionnaires in a serious confrontation. In the pre-match preparation, the coach made the main emphasis on team rallying, and he is quite pleased with the results. He does not expect an easy game, but the team has gathered and is ready to play. Captain of the Barbarians Karel Dupre supported the coach, adding that the players prepared with pleasure, and are ready to give everything one hundred percent.
Alexander Pervukhin, the head coach of the Russian national team, also paid tribute to the initiative of the Federation, and also thanked the legionnaires who raise the level of the Russian championship with their game. Speaking about the preparation of his team, the coach expressed confidence in both the physical and psychological form of the players. And the team captain Dmitry Gerasimov promised to instill in the hearts of new fans a love for rugby, and assured that the team would come out to play against foreign players as focused as possible, despite the fatigue after the season.
Dmitry especially noted the reception in the city given to the players: “We talked with the boys, we all really like it. Very good conditions everywhere, the field is very good. Everything is top notch, really. Nothing else is needed”
Answering journalists’ questions about the state of the Volgograd Arena, where the match will start tomorrow at 14.00, Karel Dupre said: “The stadium is excellent, the field is excellent, there will be a very good, very high quality game on this field.” At the end of his speech, Karel pleased those present by saying that he really likes Russia and that he wants the presence of as many players from South Africa as possible in Russian rugby.
Alexander Pervukhin shared his opinion on the current squad of the national team, answering the question of whether all the players were attracted and what worries them before the match: it was good, and the composition was all that you want. Of course, it is a pity that due to injuries there are no such players as Davydov, Gresev, Simplikevich, Gargalyk – about five or six players whom I represented in this team will not be. At the same time, of those that remained, and there are about 32 of them, it is difficult to choose who will take the field tomorrow – everyone has a desire, everyone has a form, and I would not say that someone has suddenly fallen out now. Therefore, a difficult coaching decision lies ahead. The problem of five or six years ago, when the choice of players in the first or second line simply hung over the national team, has been largely resolved. Now you regret that there is no way out to Europe, because the national team has an interesting composition – a fusion of experience and youth. However, I look forward to the future with optimism.”
Of course, journalists were also interested in the principle of forming the composition of the Barbarians, which was voiced by JP: “I want to immediately say thanks to Alexander Yuryevich, who without question allowed the players of the national team to play for the Barbarians. I was worried before the match that someone would not want to give their players to our team, but the club presidents were very supportive, and the players wanted to find themselves together in the same team, train and play together, and not against each other. It’s great that you managed to put them together. I would also like to thank the Federation, which helped at a difficult moment – several of our players were injured, and we were quickly able to find young promising Russian athletes. They are also eager to play on my team and I look forward to seeing how they perform.”
Of course, after the words Alexandra Pervukhina about the lack of gaming ties with Europe, the head coach was asked about the possible prospects for Russian rugby to enter the international arena. The coach called the sports director of the Federation present in the hall as a witness Sergei Markovspoke about establishing links with
South Africa, which, by the way, is the rugby world champion and has a very extensive and advanced network of training athletes. “We need to take the first steps, such as friendly matches. South Africa is a very important region for us, where we could do another very important aspect of our activity – to train young players and coaches. There is also Argentina, there is Chile, but South Africa is a priority for us now.”
After the press conference, the coaches and captains went on to prepare for tomorrow’s game – tomorrow Volgograd is waiting for a real show. See you at the Volgograd Arena, it will be hot!