A moustache and an Irish accent: Russia’s Artemyev wins hearts at World Cup | Daily News


A moustache and an Irish accent: Russia’s Artemyev wins hearts at World Cup

Russian captain Vasily Artemyev
Russian captain Vasily Artemyev

TOKYO, Friday - With his bushy moustache and enthusiastic interviews delivered in an incongruous Dublin brogue, Russian captain Vasily Artemyev is quickly becoming a darling of the Rugby World Cup.

One of the lowest ranked teams in the competition, Russia haven’t come close to winning a match at the tournament so far, losing 30-10 to hosts Japan, 34-9 to Samoa and 35-0 to Ireland.

But this hasn’t stopped Artemyev grinning from ear-to-ear at every post-match press conference and gushing with the excitement of a schoolboy that belies his 32 years.

After a punishing game with Samoa, during which he was smashed with two high tackles that saw two Samoans ultimately receive suspensions, Artemyev showed no hard feelings.

“To our Samoan brothers from the big island of Russia to the rather smaller island of Samoa, we say thank you very much for the game,” said the captain, sticking firmly to the spirit of rugby.

After getting shut out by Ireland 35-0, he was equally upbeat.

“We are very emotional to play here. We are losing the games but we are not broken,” he beamed. Artemyev’s antics have endeared him to Japanese media, with the Mainichi Shimbun describing him as “refreshing” and “cheerful”.

“One after another people become fans of Artmeyev. You can feel his love for rugby, that’s great isn’t it,” tweeted one Japanese supporter.

The Ireland game was a meeting with old friends for Artemyev, who moved to Dublin when he was 15 -- explaining the accent -- and played junior rugby for the powerhouse Leinster club.

He describes Ireland as his “step-motherland” and was educated at Blackrock College, a private boarding school and rugby hotbed that counts Brian O’Driscoll among its alumni.

Before that, he learned his rugby in his home town of Zelenograd, a suburb of Moscow, where his father was an engineer.

“When I started, rugby was going through a difficult patch. It was only kept going by the love and enthusiasm of the coaches. They built a team out of street boys, not at all well-trained. In a word: thugs,” he told sport.ru.

“My first pitch was on an air raid shelter. I could see it from my window. Actually, it wasn’t really a pitch, just a piece of grass. I spent my childhood training there.” – AFP 

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