13 Sep 2012

Nara’s youth team capped a good day for the Muscovite satellite town on Saturday, winning the ARLK U17 Open Championship on points difference against Moscow side Kentavr. Nara, from Naro-Fominsk, the host town of the Russia-Italy European Shield contest won by the Bears later that day, pipped their capital rivals by only four points in for-and-against. Home club Vereya came third, followed by “Nevsky gate” from St Petersburg, with rugby union entrant Monino bringing up the rear with four losses from four attempts.

In a remarkable show of dedication, the team from St Petersburg on Russia’s north coast, had travelled nine-hours by train, then a further two hours by bus to attend the tournament, before heading to Naro to support the national side.

“It was my first live viewing of Russian boys rugby league,” said RLEF General Manager Danny Kazandjian. “It was humbling to see the lads all putting in so much to their games. When you hear about the journey the boys from St Petersburg had made to get to the competition it really underlines the fact that rugby league, in small pockets, has a long tradition and is cherished in Russia and it’s the responsibility of the RLEF and the sport’s leaders in Russia to ensure the sport grows from a stable platform.”

Rugby league lost its official status in Russia in 2010. The RLEF is investigating the ways and means to recover that status.