30 Mar 2011

The Russian Association of Rugby League Clubs, the governing body of the sport in the country, has appointed Englishman Vinny Webb as coach of the national side for this year when Russia will play in the European Zone World Cup qualifiers for the 2013 tournament.

Webb, 49, the Rugby Football League’s Head of Coaching, formerly coached Georgia in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup qualifiers. “I’m delighted to be working with the Russian national team this year,” he said. “Russia is a sleeping giant of the game and I’m looking forward to seeing how they operate throughout the year and spending some time with the players and the coaches.”

Throughout a notable coaching career, Webb was first involved on the world stage when leading BARLA to victory in the Emerging Nations competition that ran alongside the 2000 World Cup, defeating an Anthony Minichiello-led Italy in the final. He has worked closely with the England Academy side over the last decade which last autumn defeated the touring Australian Schoolboys.

Interim Russia coach Eduard Ososkov welcomed Webb’s arrival. “The appointment of Vinny Webb as head coach of the Russian national team is good news for all of us as we are keen to bring something new into the coaching process while preparing for the 2013 RLWC qualifying games,” he commented. “We need to work closely with highly qualified coaches and hope that with Vinny assistance we will be a lot more confident and skilled.”

Webb will pay his first visit to Moscow in May to run a training camp, which will be attended by the elite players drawn from Russia’s first tier clubs. Russia rejoined international competition last year when they won the European Shield East, defeating Ukraine and Latvia. Now they face Italy, Serbia and Lebanon in the qualifiers which will present the re-building Bears considerably tougher opponents.

The medium-term target is preparing Russia to participate in the re-vamped European Shield, which becomes a biennial championship from 2012, with Russia, Serbia and Italy and one of Germany and Ukraine set to participate.